Hardcover, 368 pages.
Release date: April 29th 2014.
Rating: 3 out of 5.
Source: Received from publisher for review.
A flash of white light . . . and then . . . nothing.
When sixteen-year-old Kyra Agnew wakes up behind a Dumpster at the Gas ’n’ Sip, she has no memory of how she got there. With a terrible headache and a major case of déjà vu, she heads home only to discover that five years have passed . . . yet she hasn’t aged a day.
Everything else about Kyra’s old life is different. Her parents are divorced, her boyfriend, Austin, is in college and dating her best friend, and her dad has changed from an uptight neat-freak to a drunken conspiracy theorist who blames her five-year disappearance on little green men.
Confused and lost, Kyra isn’t sure how to move forward unless she uncovers the truth. With Austin gone, she turns to Tyler, Austin’s annoying kid brother, who is now seventeen and who she has a sudden undeniable attraction to. As Tyler and Kyra retrace her steps from the fateful night of her disappearance, they discover strange phenomena that no one can explain, and they begin to wonder if Kyra’s father is not as crazy as he seems. There are others like her who have been taken . . . and returned. Kyra races to find an explanation and reclaim the life she once had, but what if the life she wants back is not her own?
For sixteen year old Kyra Agnew, life is good. The star softball player at her school, it looks like Kyra has a bright future ahead of her, and as for her love life, well, that couldn’t be better. Kyra and Austin have been together forever, first as friends, and then as a whole lot more. Kyra knows that Austin will be in her life for a long time, and despite her dad’s protests, she’s determined to stick to her plans of attending the same college as Austin. Why be apart when you can be together, right? Kyra’s dad thinks she needs to live a little before she settles on ‘The One’ but Kyra’s having none of it. Kyra is hot-headed, she’s stubborn and she’s a fighter. One fateful night her dad pushes Kyra too far on the ‘Austin issue’ and she flips, insisting that her dad stops the car and lets her make her own way home.
And Kyra does make her way home. Five years later…
I am the biggest fan of The Body Finder series, and as such Kimberly Derting is on my auto-buy list. I fully admit, though, that apart from The X-Files, I’ve never been a huge fan of Sci-Fi or anything involving alien abduction. With that in mind, I confess that The Taking isn’t a new favourite of mine. I can’t fault this book in terms of page-turning quality; Derting’s zipping writing definitely kept me interested throughout, but overall The Taking didn’t leave a huge impression on me. Also, The Taking is very much a ‘first in a series’ book – throwing up all sorts of questions and not giving very many answers at all. I had decided towards the end of The Taking that I probably wouldn’t continue with this series and with that in mind (and the lack of explanation for just about anything!) I feel a teensy bit cheated. I mean, give me something, you know?
Anyway, back to the book.
The Taking is split into two distinct sections. The first sees Kyra wake up behind a dumpster the morning after (or so she thinks) that fight with her dad. Kyra’s phone won’t work, so she can’t call Austin to come pick her up, and when she gets to her house, she discovers that not only are her mom and dad not home, but there are strangers living in her house! Turns out that the rude guy who answers the door and pretty much turfs Kyra out on the street is her mom’s new husband. Now, maybe it’s just me, but I had a pretty hard time believing that Kyra’s mom’s new husband wouldn’t recognize his own wife’s missing-for-five-years daughter. I mean, it was a stretch to buy his reaction to Kyra. Wasn’t there at least a photo of her lying around the house? I dunno…Anyway, Kyra, very much freaked out by the fact that her family is AWOL, runs across the street and straight into the arms of Austin. At last – a familiar face! But wait, that’s not Austin, it’s his brother Tyler. Uh, but the last time Kyra saw Tyler he was an annoying twelve year old, and now, well now, he’s all kinds of hot. He’s also obviously not twelve years old anymore. The bomb finally drops that Kyra has been missing for five years. It also turns out that while everyone else has moved on -Her mom has a new husband and kid and her dad is a drunken conspiracy theorist who is convinced Kyra was abducted by aliens! -Kyra hasn’t aged a day. Oh, and while Kyra has been away, Austin has been at play – and is now entirely enamored with Kyra’s best friend (ouch!). Maybe Kyra’s dad was right about Austin after all…
That’s OK though, Kyra’s not one to dwell on a broken heart. After all, she’s got a ready replacement in the boy-next-door, Tyler. Yeah, Austin’s brother. Kyra and Tyler’s romance is sweet and cute, but, boy oh boy is it fast-moving. Kyra’s barely back a week and this guy is telling her he loves her. Yeah. We’re dealing with love of the INSTA variety; strange enough in its own right, and made stranger by the fact that Kyra is not exactly easy to love. Short version: Kyra is pretty bratty, and she pretty much hates everyone in her life. Except Tyler.
Moving quickly on to part two of the book which picks up the pace and introduces the shady stalker-like Agent Truman and a boy called Simon, who is also shady and stalker-like and has strange eyes. Turns out that like Kyra, Simon is one of ‘The Returned’ and Agent Truman is the bad guy. It also looks like Kyra’s dad was right again, and crazy abductions are taking place, although whether this has to do with aliens or fireflies is yet to be decided. The final part of the book is told at breakneck speed as Kyra flees from agent Truman with Tyler by her side, but there are things about her abduction that Kyra doesn’t yet know, things that put everyone in Kyra’s life in very grave danger (things that Simon, despite knowing all the answers, annoyingly and inexplicably fails to tell her until it’s too late).
While The Taking certainly had its moments, it fell a little short for me on a number of counts. First of all, the pacing is uneven. Part one of the book is really slow: whole days where Kyra hangs out at home texting Tyler and obsessively checking the time (I don’t know why, it’s kind of her thing), while part two is told at absolute breakneck speed. The final chapters of the book, although thrilling, throw up more questions than answers, while solutions to certain problems just seem far too convenient to be plausible. I was hoping for more from The Taking, and while it is exciting in places, overall I found it a tad predictable. This, combined with a rushed romance and a heroine I never did warm to, means that overall The Taking was a miss for me.