Thursday, May 29, 2008

A Mixed Reaction


The thriller aspects of Edward Bloor's most recent book, Taken, really are thrilling. Teenage Charity Meyers has been abducted for ransom--or so she believes. As a child of a wealthy family in 2035, she is a target for kidnapping and has been trained to deal with being "taken" should it happen to her. In order to keep herself calm, she forces herself to recall better days, which is how we come to learn of the culture she's living in. It's a neat device, and we're whipped back and forth between Charity's every day life and the very grim situation she is presently confronted with. You've got some nice narrative drive here.

But then I began to get the feeling that I had stumbled into some kind of instructive allegory. The wealthy people in Taken are trapped by their wealth and not very pleasant. The poor, who are all Hispanic in this book set in Florida, are both noble and violent, which was a little confusing. The culture is totally polarized and simplistic. A recurring storyline involves reality TV. It's clever, but, come on, reality TV is too easy.

In the climax and denouement the end seems to justify the means, and the means involve fraud and twisted, nasty behavior toward the protagonist and another young character. The protagonist is named Charity, and in an allegory that probably means something. I guess she forgives all. I don't know if many teens would.

I don't know if many adults would.

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