Taken by Erin Bowman

The basics

Title: Taken


Series: Taken #1

- Taken (2013)
- Frozen (2014)
- Forged (2015)

Add it: Goodreads

Goodreads Summary:

There are no men in Claysoot. There are boys—but every one of them vanishes at midnight on his eighteenth birthday. The ground shakes, the wind howls, a blinding light descends…and he’s gone.

They call it the Heist.

Gray Weathersby’s eighteenth birthday is mere months away, and he’s prepared to meet his fate–until he finds a strange note from his mother and starts to question everything he’s been raised to accept: the Council leaders and their obvious secrets. The Heist itself. And what lies beyond the Wall that surrounds Claysoot–a structure that no one can cross and survive.

Climbing the Wall is suicide, but what comes after the Heist could be worse. Should he sit back and wait to be taken–or risk everything on the hope of the other side?

Read a full summary of Taken by Erin Bowman below. If you can’t remember what happened in Taken and you need a refresher, then you’re in the right place.

in short

A guy called Gray lives in a walled settlement called Claysoot. No one can get out. Boys are taken away on their eighteenth birthday – aka Heisted – and sent to Taem, although no one inside Claysoot knows about this. One day, a short while after Gray’s twin brother is Heisted, Gray and Emma climb over the Wall. They’re taken to Taem, meet Frank, and then Gray goes to find the Rebels because Frank is an ass.

what happened in Taken?

  • The book opens up on the day of Gray’s brother’s – Blaine’s – Heist. Gray is worried, and beats up Chalice, a girl he went to school with, because she was mocking Blaine. Luckily Blaine stops Gray before he seriously injures her. Gray goes to the Clinic to get his jaw looked at – Chalice got a punch in – and almost misses Blaine’s Heist ceremony because Emma, a childhood friend, gives him drugs to relieve the pain.
  • Blaine has his Heist. The ground shakes, and light breaks through the sky and envelopes Blaine. And then he’s gone.
  • Whilst grieving, Gray comes across a letter from his deceased mother that is addressed to Blaine. It tells him to “discover the truth” since she can’t (she was dying at this point) and to not tell Gray. The letter has a page missing, and cuts off abruptly. “Gray is, in fact -” Gray checks Blaine’s journal but it doesn’t give him any information.
  • Gray goes to see Maude, who sent Chalice to find him. Since it’s been three weeks since Blaine’s Heist, Gray is now back to being slated. He is slated to Emma.
  • Gray goes to tell Emma that he’s been slated to her, but also says that he has no interest in sexy times. Emma agrees that they should pretend to spend together because neither of them wants sexy times or a baby.
  • Emma takes Gray to a lake and they have a lovely chat before going for a swim. Emma asks Gray to teach her to shoot arrows. After some training (weeks later), Emma tells Gray that she thinks the information in the town’s scrolls are weird. Why did the original children forget people’s names, but not how to hunt or build? Emma thinks there is something beyond the Wall.
  • A boy named Mohassit is meant to have his Heist, but instead he tries to escape over the Wall, and his body comes back charred. The ceremony turns into a funeral, after which Emma and Gray go back to Sasha and Kale’s house for drinks.
  • Emma shows Gray his mother’s medical records. Nothing seems out of the ordinary, so Gray checks Blaine’s and his own. Again, nothing. Emma looks at her mother’s personal records – which she uses on house calls and later copies into the official scrolls – and they say that Gray’s mother gave birth to twin boys – Blaine and Gray – in Year 29. If this is true, then Gray should have been Heisted. Gray asks Carter, Emma’s mother, about it but she denies it.
  • Gray goes to Maude’s house and overhears her talking with a man using a screen in her wall. He confronts her, but she tells him nothing. He tells her that he’s going over the Wall, and that he knows he’s a twin.
  • Gray packs his bags and goes over the Wall. Emma follows him. They come across a building, and two military men – Marco and Pete – find them. They ask Gray and Emma to go with them because it’s not safe (whatever it is that burns people is out there), and so they go.
  • Gray and Emma are driven to a city called Taem to supposedly see a guy called Frank, who has answers. Gray tells Marco about him being a twin and missing his Heist, and Marco throws him in a cell with a guy named Bozo.
  • Gray is taken to see Frank, the guy in charge. Frank tells Gray about Harvey Maldoon, who apparently set up Claysoot as a science experiment, to look into human behaviour and the building of societies. This was called the Laicos Project. He also explains that he rules AmEast, where Taem is, and it’s at war with AmWest, who started the Second Civil War. Harvey is apparently helping AmWest.
  • The Heisted boys end up in Taem. Frank takes Gray to find Blaine, and they’re reunited. All the other guys are there, and are being used as scouts in the fight against the Rebels – Harvey’s followers. Gray asks Blaine about the twin thing, and Blaine gives him the second half of the letter. It confirms that Gray is Blaine’s twin, and their mother kept it a secret as an experiment to see if the Heist really was a way of life, or if it could be prevented.
  • It is revealed that if the military save someone who climbs over the Wall, they send a charred body of a prisoner back to Claysoot in its place.
  • Gray gets cleaned up and his head is shaved. He also gets an Order uniform. Emma tells Gray that she doesn’t trust Frank and his men. After some rest, Gray overhears Frank and Evan talking about how Frank is worried about Gray not going through the Heist.
  • Gray and Emma witness a guy get shot for stealing water in the city. Before he dies, the guy calls Frank ‘corrupt’, which plants a seed in Gray’s mind. Gray goes to see Frank, who tells Gray that the guy deserved to die for what he did. He also says that Gray isn’t allowed to wander around freely.
  • Graham and Emma go in search of a library for answers. They come across a map in an office that shows there is a possible Rebel camp in the mountains beyond the forest. Documents show that a guy called Elijah seems to have started the Rebellion, not Harvey. They also show that a lot of people have been executed for minor things. One folder is titled Operation Ferret. Gray and Emma plan to find Blaine and Harvey, but Marco overhears them. Emma is taken away, and Gray is taken to Frank’s office.
  • Frank isn’t there, but he gives the order to execute Gray. Gray escapes while Rebels attack the city. Emma is left behind. Gray stows away in a truck that goes to the forest, and then he gets out and goes towards Mount Martyr, where the Rebel encampment is.
  • On the way, Gray comes across an Order encampment. They talk about Operation Ferret, and how they’re going to find the Rebels in the mountains. Blaine is on the mission, as is Evan. They see Gray, and question him. Evan is about to shoot Gray for lying when the Rebels attack the camp. Blaine is shot in the leg, and he and Gray flee.
  • Gray drags his injured brother through the forest in search of water. He finally finds a pond that leads to a river. But one of the Rebels – Bree – is already there. He teases her and she knocks him out.
  • When Gray wakes up, a boy called Clipper removes the tracking device from his neck. Then he’s taken to a guy called Owen, who turns out to be his father. Bree takes Gray to the Rebel HQ in Mount Martyr (Blaine is already there), and a group of people vote on whether or not Gray should be killed. Obviously they let him live.
  • Gray and his dad have a chat. It turns out that Frank was the one to start the Laicos Project, not Harvey. Frank created Claysoot in order to breed soldiers that he could replicate to create Forgeries for an army in order to defeat AmWest. It’s revealed that Harvey was the one to invent the Forgeries.
  • Gray begins his training. Bree tells him that there are five other towns like Claysoot, and she is from one of the towns that Heist girls. Each of the five towns have different levels of challenges that Frank wanted them to overcome. This was also useful to experiment as to which town produced the best soldiers.
  • It’s revealed that the Heist was actually the Order sending in helicopters and releasing drugs on the townsfolk.
  • Gray is about to go on a mission with the Rebels when they discover that the Order have engineered a virus, and they plan to unleash it on Rebel HQ.
  • Gray comes up with a plan to take Harvey back to Taem so that he can locate the virus while Gray creates a diversion. Gray impersonates Blaine and, along with Bree, takes Harvey back to the city as a fake hostage. He is taken to see Frank, who doesn’t seem to believe his escape story. Frank knows he’s not Blaine.
  • Gray finds Emma in bed with Craw. He punches Craw, and storms out. Emma begs him to forgive her, but he says he needs time to decide whether or not she deserves another chance.
  • Bree starts some music, which sends everyone into a panic and they announce a Code Red. Marco comes across Harvey and Gray as they’re trying to get the virus info. They get locked up. Harvey admits that he knew he was probably going to die when he took the mission.

how did it end?

Gray is told to execute Harvey in front of the citizens. He aims his gun, and then Bree shoots him from a rooftop with a rubber bullet. Bozo, from the jail cell, comes to help him. It’s revealed that Bozo is actually Bo Chilton, from Claysoot. Gray finds Emma, who thanks him for giving her a second chance, and takes her with him.

The group reach the control room where all the video feeds are. Bo sees Maude. They’re found, and Bree gets shot. They escape into the forest. Gray realises they’ve left Harvey behind, but there’s nothing they can do. Emma stitches Bree up, and then Gray kisses Bree. After that, a projection of Harvey dead is shown in the sky.

They get back to Mount Martyr and Clipper administers the vaccine. Gray spends some time with Bree.

Bo declares that he wants to go to Group A, the town that had all the fighting. He thinks people might still be there, and hiding from the cameras. A small team is going: Gray, Emma, Owen, Bo, Xavier, Clipper, and Bree. They set off, and fin.

anything else

Heist – Boys get taken from Claysoot on their eighteenth birthdays, and no one knows why. At least, until it’s revealed that Frank, the leader of the Order, is behind it. He wants to use these boys to make clones, and he wants to use the clones as soldiers.
Slating – Hook ups assigned by the Council of Claysoot for the purpose of reproducing.
Claysoot – Where Gray is from. The people of Claysoot are told that the original children woke up 47 years ago in the town without any memory of each other, unless they were siblings. Maude Chilton was one of them, along with her brother. Her brother led the town before she did, up until he had his Heist. He was the first.
Taem – A huge domed city near Claysoot.
AmEast – Where Taem and Claysoot are.
AmWest – Supposedly started the Second Civil War. They’re fighting against AmEast.
Forgeries – Clones of the Heisted boys/girls, who are made to follow orders and to fight on the warfront.
Laicos Project – Five settlements – Group A to E – were set up as an experiment to see which environment creates the best soldiers. Frank is in charge of this, although he initially blamed Harvey.

This is a full plot summary of what happened in Taken by Erin Bowman. Check out our recap list for more recaps. If you can’t find what you need, you can request a recap from us!


  • Yikes, it must have taken you ages to write down all that! Thanks so much!
    It all sounds a bit nuts when I read it back like that ☺

  • LORD says:

    Was kinda helpful for a book discussion in my school you know.

  • LORD says:

    Do not know how you typed all of this but gg’s.

  • Sammy Eddingree says:

    Nice and detailed summary! Was very helpful for my school book discussion!

  • Jimmy says:

    Thank you for this recap! Worked wonders for my book report.

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