Book Review: Untaken by J.E. Anckorn

When the aliens invade earth, 14-year-old Gracie and 15-year-old Brandon both end up alone and make a snap decision to join together in order to survive. Brandon has a plan to go to his uncle's cabin in Maine, but along the way they find Jake, a little boy with a secret that complicates everything. Gracie and Brandon will have to learn to get along and figure out who to trust if they want to keep surviving and start a new life.

Book Review: Untaken by J.E. Anckorn | reading, books, book reviews, science fiction, post-apocalyptic, young adult, aliens
Title: Untaken
Pages: 262
My Rating: 3.5 Stars
More Info: Goodreads, Amazon, Publisher


So this had been sitting on my kindle for a while, and I finally decided to read it one day because I was really in the mood for a really specific type of post-apocalyptic read, and it seemed like this would satisfy my craving.

(Plus it has a gorgeous cover. That always helps.)

It actually didn’t end up being quite what I was looking for at that moment, which might’ve affected my rating, but what it did end up being was incredibly character-driven with complex characters who showed real growth throughout the story. The character development was really the crowning feature of this book, especially for Brandon’s character. And the funny thing is, I related a lot more to Gracie’s character, but Brandon’s POV was so well-written that it genuinely made me understand a perspective completely different from my own, see things differently, and understand things I never would have understood otherwise.

I also loved the realism in the book. Yeah there was an alien apocalypse, but the characters’ reactions, the situations, the plot—those were the realistic things. And I’m also always annoyed when characters’ injuries just disappear, so I was really happy that the injuries seemed realistic too. For example, when Brandon got a concussion at one point, he actually felt awful for days, had to let Gracie drive because he could hardly keep his eyes open without getting dizzy, etc. And nothing ever felt forced into the plot or out of character, so all of that was great.

The book also had some adorable, touching moments, as post-apocalyptic books often do, once the characters start bonding. The way both Gracie and Brandon came to care about Jake and to care about each other was sweet. Also, “Holy crap! Why wouldn’t it be?” was the best response in the history of ever when Gracie asked Brandon *SPOILER ALERT* if it was ok that she kissed him. *END SPOILER ALERT*

My main issues with the book though were 1) it felt a little too slow-paced, but mostly 2) it took too long to really get started. To me, the good part in these types of books is when the world has already been destroyed and the characters have come together to start all the great bonding and growth, but a large chunk of the beginning of this one was about Gracie and Brandon’s individual lives before they actually started making their way together. However, I will say the beginning still had that great character development and realism that I mentioned above.

Also, a note, there was a lot of cursing in this book. It wasn’t something that bothered me, and it felt authentic to the characters, but I know it could possibly bother other readers, especially since this is a YA book.

So overall, even though I felt it had a slow start, this was still a great character-driven post-apocalyptic book that was both realistic and touching.


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18 thoughts on “Book Review: Untaken by J.E. Anckorn

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  1. Bookworm Brandee

    Despite your issues with this one, I think I may read it purely for the character development and growth, Kristen. AND I think it says a lot about said development that Anckorn was able to have you understand someone you didn’t necessarily identify with and be able to see things from a new perspective. That’s incredible. I’m sorry it wasn’t exactly what you were thinking it was but I don’t think it was time lost. 😀

    1. Kristen Burns

      Oh, no, it wasn’t a bad book by any means, definitely not time wasted. It was just, like I said, not exactly what I was looking for at the time and I would’ve liked things to kind of start happening more sooner. I was definitely impressed with how well the characters were written though!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Seriously, this has to be one of my favorite covers ever! But it was also a good book, so you should definitely check it out if you like this type 🙂

  2. Christy LoveOfBooks

    Yeah, I get in moods for something specific too. I usually turns into such a dilemma if I don’t already have a book in mind. This sounds good, though. I can’t remember the last time I read a book in this genre.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Oh yeah, I’m a mood reader, and the worst is when I’m in the mood for something but just can’t figure out what. I’ve literally spent entire days just staring at my books, unable to make a decision lol. This was good though! Just had the kinda slow beginning.

  3. Greg

    Awesome cover on this one, love the sense of total disaster. I agree about post apocs, like The walking Dead for example. I could care less about the zombies, it’s the relationships between the survivors and the choices they make that are the draw. At least for me. So character driven here sounds good. And by the same token I don’t think I’d like the whole drawn out beginning either. Call me impatient but I’d be like get on with it!

    lol about the spoiler, that’s funny.

    The blurb kinda makes me wonder too what changes vis a vis their hoped for “rescue.”

    1. Kristen Burns

      The cover is so good! One of my faves. And yeah, character relationships and choices are definitely the reason I read post-apoc, not the monsters or zombies or aliens or whatever. But yeah, that’s why I just wanted to get to that part already and see how the two would work together.

      Hahaha I love that response so much. I read this book months ago, and I’m still laughing about it.

  4. Barb (boxermommyreads)

    I have had some good luck with books from this publisher in the past. However, for some reason, I have a real problem with alien books – I tend to not like them. I don’t know what it is exactly. I go in starting to like them and wanting to like them but I just can’t get into them. I do like the cover of this book and I tend to enjoy character driven books so it might be worth checking it out. I used to not like Fae books either but that has changed some recently so who knows what might happen!

    1. Kristen Burns

      I do like a lot of Curiosity Quills books, one of my 5 star reads even. But is it alien apocalypse books you don’t like, or the ones with, like, alien love interests? I just like character-focused post-apoc books, so I guess I don’t much mind whether it’s zombies or aliens or whatever lol. But yeah, who knows, maybe you’ll end up liking alien books afterall!

  5. Molly @ Molly's Book Nook

    So, this book sounded familiar to me……….and then I realized I’ve read it hahahahahah. I checked my review for it on goodreads and I gave it three stars. >.< I was like "oh another post-apocalyptic type book!" when I clicked your review and then was like "wait a minute…"

    1. Kristen Burns

      Lol that’s pretty funny. That’s too bad you didn’t like it more, but I suppose I only rated it half a star higher. I thought it was good, I was really impressed by the characters, but I guess it just didn’t blow me away.

  6. Lola

    It does has a great cover. Too bad it wasn’t exactly what you were in the mood for, but it still sounds like you managed to enjoy this one. It’s great this one was so character driven and had great character growth as I know how much you value that in books. And how the reactions of the characters were so realistic is great. And it’s nice to see things like a concussion written realistically. It does sound interesting with how the aliens cause the apocalypse in this one. Great review!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Seriously the cover is gorgeous. And yeah, it wasn’t quite what I wanted, but I did still think it was good. The characters were superb, and I do value that in books. And yes, I love realism! Thanks 🙂

  7. AngelErin

    I’m glad you enjoyed this one, even though it wasn’t perfectly what you were looking for and there were a few issues. I’m not sure if this one would be for me, but wonderful review! Also, I love the cover also! 😀