cbr14bingo Minds Level 2
At first The Taking of Jake Livingston was enjoyable. There was enough familiar to make it comfortable, but new enough to not be the same-old-same-old. Even a couple of clichés could be forgiven for they did move the story along. Then there were the clichés that bogged it down. Then the ending (SPOILER) where our narrator walks away free of any consequences from his actions. What could have been something different turned into the same old thing.
I was rooting for Ryan Douglass to grab me. To make a mind-screw in a way that would blow me away. And it was there. How would we prove Jake was being haunted? That the ghouls are more powerful than they thought and that a dead school shooter was behind the current murders in town? But it never panned out.
Jake tries to “fit in” and “be good” so he could “go to heaven” (as we learn later) when something happens to him. Not if, but when due to his being a medium who is not the most adapt at dealing with the ghouls, ghosts, and the consequences of that. Jake is trying to be the “good boy” and let “them” not get him down. But Jake could have been any teen from any of the books I read “back in the day.” Their “cross to bear” was being the poor-boy/girl-in-a-rich-town/school/situation.” Jake’s is that he is a not so closeted gay teen and is one of the two black students in his school (the other his brother). Douglass fills the story with stereotypical redneck teachers and students. They filled it with Jake’s brother and mother being “not there” for him. And the supernatural aspect could have had more punch. There seemed to be no one learning a lesson.
What could have been a thriller that would capture the mind, that could have been a psychological thriller as the ghost Sawyer really gets inside the mind of Jake was never quite there. Douglass could have explored how Jake could be having a breakdown and Sawyer is a manifestation of that. Or the concept of but for the grace of God go thee could have been used/explored, and yet (SPOILER) Jake does become Sawyer and does not pay for that.
I wanted to love this book, but only can say the experience was not what I had hopped and will tell you borrow from your library, or find a paper edition, the hardcover is not worth the results. And while I am sure most teens have seen worse in movies and tv, I am not recommending this for under 14. Book has triggers of racism, violence, torture, rape, gun violence.