"Lately, I think you've forgotten which side you're on," he says to me. Instead of responding, I smile. I know exactly which side I'm on. Whichever one gets me the hell out of this place.
* * * *
All Jackson Smith wanted to do was take his little sister Aubrey to a county fair, but they ended up in the town of Wicker Farm, a place that doesn't even exist on Earth as he knows it. Run by the ambitious and diabolical Governor Richards, Wicker Farm is in the process of rebuilding following a disease that wiped out most of of the population of the state. Anyone who ends up there is expected to stay forever.
With the governor's forces everywhere, escape seems impossible-- not that Jackson can even begin to figure out how to escape. That is, until he forms an uneasy alliance with Russell Tremell, the young leader of The Resistance, the rebel group that oppose the governor.
If Jackson can lead two lives, moving up the ranks as the perfect Wicker Farm resident while working for The Resistance, he may be the key to getting everyone out. This means bringing the danger even closer, from Richards' security officers and from the temptations that Wicker Farm offers: the type of life he never would have had access to in his world.
But after finding himself torn between Charlie, the Resistance wild child, and Sasha, Governor Richards' daughter, the real danger could come from the unlikeliest source-- from falling in love.
First book in trilogy. (From GoodReads)
When I started Taken, I wasn't quite sure what I was diving into. Yes, I read the synopsis. But, I just wasn't sure what the book was. YA? YA Science Fiction? Psychological Thriller? Love Story? The answer. Yes, to all the above. Taken is a YA novel with some sci-fi, a lot of psychological thrills and a whole lot of love.
Taken opens in Wynn, USA, with Jackson and Aubrey. Jackson is a teenage boy who is more of a parent to little sister Aubrey than his needy, neglectful mom can ever be. When Jackson and Aubrey end up in Wicker Farm due to a portal to another dimension (hence, the sci-fi twist), the psychological aspect of the story begins. Children are being brought into Wicker Farm to repopulate after disease decimates most of the population. Imagine, just try to imagine, being taken away from your life. Not only your life, your Earth. The terror Jackson experiences at that realization is petrifying. And although he remains calm on the outside,the panic inside is chilling.
Once inside Wicker Farm, Jackson is torn by Russell, a Resistance leader, and Sasha, daughter of the head of Wicker Farm. Russell wants to bring down Wicker Farm, and enlists Jackson's help. Jackson is also drawn to Sasha, whom he wants to hate but can't help admiring because of her kindness to his sister. Once he gets to know her, Sasha becomes someone he can't resist. How can he be with her while trying to bring down her father behind her back? Will he use her for his own gain?
Although I initially had reservations about him, Jackson became a character I adore. The narrative, entirely from his perspective, almost seemed like that of a detached observer. But, and I might be reading entirely too much into this, I felt as if the seeming aloofness was a smart move by the author. I thought that she used that to make Jackson seem as if he were trying to spare himself from the pain of being too close to the events unfolding. The moments where Jackson seems to feel what he's relaying are more striking because of the detachment he has shown at other times. Because as the story moves along, and Jackson opens himself to Sasha, and when you see the love he feels for Aubrey, the rawness of his emotions is beautiful. And if this was the strategy, it was brilliant. Like I said, maybe I delved too deep into this thought...
The ironic thing about Taken is, Jackson and Aubrey's lives are much better at Wicker Farm than on Earth. The have a guardian who seems to genuinely care for them. Jackson has a career he would never have otherwise. Aubrey is a happier, more well-adjusted girl. And they have Sasha. But can you be truly happy with a life you didn't choose? Will he give up his true home for true love?
I won't answer that question. What I will say, the ending was a fantastic. I didn't see the twist coming. At all.I can't wait to read the next book in the series, Lost.
You can find Taken at GoodReads.
You can find author Zia Marie at her blog.
*I was given a copy of Taken by the author, in exchange for an honest review.*