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I Belong

Review: Taken by David Massey

Title: Taken

Author: David Massey

Genre: YA Survival

Series: N/A

Publication Date: August 26, 2014

Format: Hardcover, 304 Pages

ISBN-10: 0545661285 (Chicken House)

ISBN-13: 978-0545661287 (Chicken House)

Reviewed by: Tara


The trip of a lifetime turns into a fight to the death when six extreme athletes are TAKEN hostage by pirates off the coast of Africa. By the author of TORN.

Six crew members are toughing it out, trying to come together as a team to sail around the world on a grueling challenge for charity. Four are teen military veterans disabled in combat: They’re used to being pushed to the limit. But nothing could have prepared them for being kidnapped by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Suddenly, the trip of a lifetime turns into a dark journey into the African jungle. Taken hostage by a notorious warlord and his band of child soldiers, how will Rio, Ash, Marcus, Jen, Charis, and Izzy survive?

Quick & Dirty: A high octane survival and action book that deals with some very dark parts of history.

Opening Sentence: My rucksack thuds onto the wooden pontoon and all the stress of getting here falls away with it.

Excerpt: No

The Review:

When I first started reading Taken, I had no idea of the wild journey I was about to begin. This book begins with Rio joining the support crew for a group of disabled military veterans who want to sail around the world for a charity challenge. Soon after, the sailboat is hijacked by a warlord and his child soldiers, who take the crew captive. As they are taken deeper and deeper into the jungle, the crew fight for survival at every turn.

The plot was relatively straight forward but I could’t put the book down. David Massey did an excellent job of keeping the suspense level high, even during quieter moments. I was never quite sure what the warlord would do next or how the crew would survive until the next day. There were a few plot twists that, even though I saw them coming, still packed quite an emotional punch. The environment was beautifully described and easy to imagine. I liked that the author had the dangers coming both from their captors and their surroundings. It made the book feel more realistic, particularly in light of the author’s obvious knowledge about the area.

I was impressed by how much research the author had done for this book. The military veterans had a variety of medical issues and they were all portrayed very realistically. The author would mention how each character was suffering in a different way at different times due to the combination of their circumstances and medical problems. I also really liked that he portrayed each of their disabilities as a strength at some point in the novel. Additionally, the author brought depth to his portrayal of child soldiers that did justice to the complexity and injustice regarding them.

Rio and the other members of the crew weren’t quite as developed as I would have liked. There didn’t seem to be a lot of depth to them, although that may have been a by-product of the survivalist tone of the narrative. However, I think there could have been more character development, particularly in regards to the relationships between them, in the beginning that would have improved the later scenes. I was also a little confused about the ages of the military veterans and Jen but that wasn’t a big deal. My favorite character was introduced about halfway through and she stole the show. I don’t want to say too much because of the risk of spoilers but I loved watching her character development.

Taken was a wonderful surprise. It was a high octane survival story that dealt with subjects I hadn’t expected to see in young adult fiction. Definitely worth the read if you’re interested in the genre.

Notable Scene:

“Pirates,” Ash growls, “probably Somalis, but how the hell they’ve got this far south . . .”

“You’re sure?” I ask him.

“We’re miles from anywhere. Those four launches you saw, Rio, they aren’t on a pleasure cruise — they’re heading this way at full speed. There’s no way they’d have enough fuel to get this far from land, so my guess is that there’s a mother ship just over the horizon.”

Izzy looks like she does when she’s going hypo. She’s fiddling with her bracelet and her voice is barely a whisper. “Without the engine we’re dead in the water.”

I’m cold as ice — scared — and suddenly we’re all thinking the same thing: The radio has been acting up.


FTC Advisory: Chicken House provided me with a copy of Taken. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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