The Taker by Alma Katsu – Book Review

The Taker by Alma Katsu
Published by Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster

It is a cold, dark night in Maine when a murder suspect shows up in Dr. Luke Findley’s ER and shakes up his life. Lanore McIlvrae is beautiful, but there’s something more to it than that. Lanny swears to Luke that Jonathan, the man she killed, died at her hands only because he requested it, because it was the only possible way that he could die. From there, Lanny begins relating to Luke the incredible – and apparently true – story of how both she and Jonathan became immortal, some 200 years ago.

There is not just one story in The Taker, but actually three, all of which are nestled inside one another like matryoshka dolls. The reader not only sees Luke and Lanny in the future and learns how Lanny came to be immortal, but the story of Adair, the man who made Lanny what she is, is told as well. Katsu does this surprisingly well, it is always clear which time period the reader is in, both with place names and dates at the beginning of every chapter that switches, and by switching tenses and points of view when the story changes. In this way, Katsu seamlessly weaves together the strands of her story.

What did not work as well for me was the story itself, particularly the relationships. I have no idea why Luke is so taken with Lanny that he would essentially abandon his life for her, nor why Lanny is so obsessed with Jonathan. I wish Lanny’s early declarations to Jonathan that they were destined to be together were explored more fully. In some ways she is obviously right, but it is unclear how at a young age she would be granted this sort of insight into her future. These infatuations were stated, but never seemed fully developed to me. Equally weak was Lanny’s revelation about Adair that brings about the climax of the story. It was too sudden, too out of nowhere.

The Taker is a book with very real strengths, strengths which bode well for Katsu’s continued success. I simply wasn’t able to connect with the characters enough to understand their motivations, but this was likely a very personal and subjective reaction, and others might feel very differently (and others whose opinions I respect have, in fact, felt very differently), so I certainly do not intend to warn any readers away from The Taker, but just to offer a different perspective. Prospective readers may, however, want to be aware of the repeated sexual abuse and sadism, which will likely turn some off.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: Publisher.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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11 comments to The Taker by Alma Katsu – Book Review

  • Yeah, I’m not sure this book is going to be for me, but I met Alma at SIBA and I just adore her. I have to admit that I’m a little nervous about reading the book.

  • I was one of the people completely swept away by the book, but not everyone agreed. I was so consumed by the character of Adair, so totally creeped out, I had nightmares. I cannot wait for the second book. And it is impossible not to love Alma.

    • She really is great, and has a lot of strengths as a writer. It sounds like the next book goes in a slightly different direction, so even though I wasn’t totally in love with The Taker I may still have to read it.

  • Whoa, I HAVE to read this book. Sounds creepy and moody and a lot of other things that are perfect for these winter evenings…

  • well, I was sold when I saw it was set in Maine..tell until I read the rest of the review. We will see…

  • I picked up a copy at BEA and read it very soon thereafter. At first, I was a little confused my the PR material on the cover which made it sound like a YA vampire tale; but I was quickly set to rights by some tweeps… and then I came across the sex scenes and understood! But really, that little misunderstanding became very indicative of the book as a whole to me. Despite the adult material, the writing seemed very YA-ish, creating a question in my mind who this book was being written for. The characters seemed very immature for being adults *and* the overall vocabulary level was not particularly high. I met Alma Taksi very briefly and she seems like a nice and fun person to get to know; but this book wasn’t for me either.

    • I think part of the YA-ish feel comes from the fact that the characters were fairly young, even the most poignant part of Adair’s story came when he was little more than a child. Lanore always seemed to me as if she was closer to 16, rather than in her 20s.

  • I really loved this book. This was one of my favorites from the past year, the other was Those across the River.

  • I couldn’t finish this book. I tried…and I tried. I actually got 3/4th’s of the way through when I realized that I didn’t care for any of the characters and that I just didn’t care for the story either. I’ve seen so many good reviews for it that I thought that I was the only one who didn’t care for it. And I even considered going back and trying to finish but I just don’t think that this is the book for me. Thanks for the honest review!