The Taking of Jake Livingston by Ryan Douglass

Disclaimer: I received an e-arc and an arc of this book. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: The Taking of Jake Livingston

Author: Ryan Douglass

Book Series: Standalone

Diversity: Black MC male, Gay side character and MC, M/M romance

Rating: 5/5

Recommended For…: Horror, young adult readers, paranormal, ghosts, mediums

Genre: YA Horror

Publication Date: July 13, 2021

Publisher: Putnam

Pages: 244

Recommended Age: 16+ (Death, TW School shootings, TW Animal torture, Language, TW Child abuse, Violence, Gore, Bullying, Racism, TW Suicide, Underage alcohol consumption, Drug reference, Sexual content, TW Child Sexual abuse, TW Slight religious abuse, TW Domestic violence mention)

Explanation of CWs: School shootings are mentioned, is focal to the story, and scenes of it are described and played out in the book. Insects are tortured by a villain character. Child abuse is mentioned and shown, experienced by the main character. Racism plays a side role in this story and there are racist remarks made to the main character. Suicide is shown in the story. Alcohol is consumed by minors and a reference to crack is made. There are two sex scenes in this book and some references to this. There is child sexual assault shown by a family member towards the back of the book. There is a scene where the main character is slightly abused religiously as a ploy by the father to get the main character to not be gay anymore. There is also a small mention of domestic violence.

Synopsis: Jake Livingston is one of the only Black kids at St. Clair Prep, one of the others being his infinitely more popular older brother. It’s hard enough fitting in but to make matters worse and definitely more complicated, Jake can see the dead. In fact he sees the dead around him all the time. Most are harmless. Stuck in their death loops as they relive their deaths over and over again, they don’t interact often with people. But then Jake meets Sawyer. A troubled teen who shot and killed six kids at a local high school last year before taking his own life. Now a powerful, vengeful ghost, he has plans for his afterlife–plans that include Jake. Suddenly, everything Jake knows about ghosts and the rules to life itself go out the window as Sawyer begins haunting him and bodies turn up in his neighborhood. High school soon becomes a survival game–one Jake is not sure he’s going to win.

Review: I really liked this book! At first I thought it was just going to be a paranormal book, but it quickly turned into one of my favorite horror stories of this year. I loved the plot and was instantly hooked. I loved the character development of the book as well. I also really liked how the author walked a really tight line between making the reader feel bad for Sawyer but yet remembering that he was a demon who you were ultimately hating.

However, I did think that the book had some things it could have improved on. The pacing was a bit wonky in spots. The world building wasn’t the best at explaining Jake’s medium powers and how the paranormal world worked in general in this story. The book had some really quick action scenes that should have been slowed down in my opinion, and I feel like the book had the material to go another 100-150 pages. I also felt like Allister was a bit too 1 dimensional.

Verdict: It’s honestly a really good and spooky read. Highly recommend!

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