REVIEW: The Taker (Taker #1) by Alma Katsu

ADULT CONTENT. NOT FOR CHILDREN OR YOUNG ADULTS.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars, Genre: Fiction, Pages: 438, Level: Intermediate

Book Description from Barnes & Noble:

True love can last an eternity . . .  but immortality comes at a price..

On the midnight shift at a hospital in rural St. Andrew, Maine, Dr. Luke Findley is expecting a quiet evening. Until a mysterious woman arrives in his ER, escorted by police- Lanore McIlvrae is a murder suspect- and Luke is inexplicably drawn to her. As Lanny tells him her story, an impassioned account of love and betrayal that transcends time and mortality, she changes his life forever…  At the turn of the nineteenth century, Lanny was consumed as a child by her love for the son of St. Andrew’s founder, and she will do anything to be with him forever. But the price she pays is steep-  an immortal bond that chains her to a terrible fate.

A doctor is on duty at the hospital in St. Andrew when a young woman is brought in. The police tell Luke that when he is done checking her, she is to be arrested for murder. But the young woman, Lanny, convinces Luke to help her escape and then proceeds to tell him the tragic story of her life, including how it came to be that she cannot die.

This is absolutely NOT a young adult book. I don’t think it is classified as YA but I just want to make that clear.

This is sort of a love story, except that the recipient of Lanny’s undying love, Jonathan, does not return her love the way she wants: “One partner doesn’t love the other enough to stop drinking, or gambling, or running around with other women. One is the giver and one is the taker.” Hence the title.

The book jumps back and forth between different time periods as three different characters’ stories are told. Lanny’s story is so intriguing that I was a little disappointed when it switched back to present time, although Lanny’s story is the majority of the book. The writing is good; there is not a lot of awkward syntax and the vocabulary is not dumbed down.

I read other reviews and one of the big criticisms by those who did not enjoy the book is that Lanny was so desperate for Jonathan. Jonathan is a womanizer who would never commit to her, although he would frequently use her for sex, companionship or advise when it suited him. However, when she needed him most, he would abandon her. Despite Lanny’s full knowledge of Jonathan’s character, and other relationships she had, Jonathan always remained her one love that over which she always obsessed. She was too weak to demand more for herself and constantly made excuses for her love of Jonathan.

I should also warn you that there are few truly admirable characters in the book; it is filled with depraved, petty and broken individuals. Ironically, one of the most admirable characters in the book is a prostitute. While other novels have used this technique as a mirror of society, I think the book is for entertainment only and there are no higher messages in it. I’ll be able to speak on that more after reading the entire series.

Warning: There is a lot of sex in the book although most of it is not overly explicit. And there is kinky sex, an implied scene of sex and torture as a punishment, rape, rape while partiers watch, implied gang rape and the implied rape of possibly minors after they have been drugged. There are many depraved characters and quite a bit of combining so-called love and manipulation. There are unwanted pregnancies, a suicide, attempted suicide, self-mutilation and beatings. And then there is a marriage to a 14-year old girl. None of this is glorified.

You might wonder why I enjoyed this book after everything I have stated above. Unfortunately, I can’t really answer that. The story is quite gripping and I wanted so badly for Jonathan to come to his senses and fall in love with Lanny. I wanted Lanny to come to her senses, forget about Jonathan and save the single most depraved character in the book, Adair. I don’t know; I wanted something! I will not tell you if I received what I was looking for. The book ended in a fashion that it could have been a standalone book, so I am curious as to how Katsu continues the story in books 2 and 3. Will the story in its entirety be one of salvation and true love? We’ll see.

Finally, this is another book that I will refrain from recommending and suggest that you read other reviews as well and decide for yourself.

Reviewed by Christina

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