The Girl Who Was Taken by Charlie Donlea

Bibliographic Citation:
Donlea, Charlie. (2017). The Girl Who Was Taken. New York, NY: Kensington. 978-1496701008.

thegirlwhowastakenSynopsis:
Dr. Livia Cutty, a medical examiner fellow, is on a search for answers about her sister, Nicole, who disappeared one summer. The same day Nicole went missing, so did another girl, Megan. However, after two weeks she returned, but Nicole never did. Together, Livia and Megan begin to piece together what really happened the night the two went missing.

Critical Analysis & Personal Opinion:
I really enjoyed this book. I like how it alternated timelines and voices. We see the present mainly through the point of view of Livia, a medical examiner. We see the past mainly through Nicole’s eyes, Livia’s missing sister. Nicole’s chapters really feel like a YA novel, but it was a nice way to break up Livia’s narration, which at times is very scientific and technical.

I do feel like this book was slightly predictable. I love it when I don’t see things coming, but that wasn’t the case with this book. I had it mostly figured out, except for the the identity of who kept Megan. It was a good read, a quick one too. If you like suspense, consider reading this book. There was this really awful typo at the end, and it bugged me (they said Livia Jennings instead of Elizabeth Jennings). I just couldn’t imagine how they missed that in editing, but oh well.

I liked both Megan and Livia’s characters. For many readers, it is important to feel like characters are easy to identify with or relate to in some way. Nicole felt like an authentic teenage girl on a rebellious streak, to the point where I was surprised to realize the author was male and not female. I particularly enjoyed the forensics aspect of the story. At times it was gruesome, but it felt original. In novels you are often introduced to the detective side of things, so the medical examiner part was a fresh and intriguing. I generally read YA novels, and like children’s fiction, they are typically packaged all nice and neat at the end. Literature for youth needs a sense of happiness and closure, I guess. This wasn’t like that and I was glad . Once I got to the point where Megan knew who her captor was, when she knew the sound, I couldn’t stop reading.

Overall I would give this book 4/5 stars.

Check it out.

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Silent Child by Sarah A. Denzil

Bibliographic Citation:
Denzil, Sarah A. (2017). Silent Child.  978-1542722827.

silent childSynopsis:
Emma Price lost her six-year-old son, Aiden, during a record breaking flood in their small town, and her world falls apart. Fast forward ten years and she is finally moving on with her life. She’s happily married and expecting a baby. The suddenly, Aiden returns. But now he is mute and won’t tell anyone where he’s been.

Critical Analysis & Personal Opinion:
So I’m just going to come right out and say it, this is my favorite adult fiction book that I have ever read. Friday of last week my coworker told me to download it on Audible because she was really into it. She was on Chapter 7, and gave me a bit of a rundown of it. I was hooked. On my lunch break I listened to a sample, and then I downloaded it. By the end of the day I was past Chapter 7 and itching for more. This book consumed my weekend. I listened to it while I cooked, while I ironed my hair, while I played on my computer, while I laid in bed, while I drove. Monday morning on my way to school I finished the 45 chapters, and I was speechless. I felt myself needing to call everyone I knew and tell them to get this book. I think I ended up only telling 3 or 4 people, but seriously, READ THIS BOOK. Or listen to it, whatever.

The story takes place in England so the narrator has that wonderful accent, if you go the audiobook route, like I did. I was never really a huge audiobook fan, but this book may have changed that. Or at least this narrator. I could honestly listen to her say anything. The entire time I am imagining these characters in my head. How would they really look? Who would play them if there were to be a movie adaptation? (Please let there be one eventually!) It is suspenseful and enthralling. It is beautifully written and the story it tells draws you in, breaks your heart, boils your blood, and makes you want to hug your children a little tighter.

Read this book.
You must.

I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

Bibliographic Citation:
Lyga, Barry. (2012). I Hunt Killers. New York, NY: Little, Brown. ISBN 9780316125840.

Image from Amazon.com (Click to redirect to site)

Image from Amazon.com
(Click to redirect to site)

Plot Summary:
Jasper “Jazz” Dent is the son of the world’s most prolific serial killer, Billy Dent. Four years after his father’s arrest another sequence of killings begins in his hometown by someone called The Impressionist. Jazz tries to stay a step ahead of the murderer while convincing himself that he isn’t a killer too — no matter who is dad is or what he knows. Jazz works with the police and tries to battle his own demons before they have another Billy Dent on their hands.

Critical Analysis:
I Hunt Killers is unlike many YA books in that it isn’t written from the point of view of the protagonist, but rather from a narrator’s perspective. As you read you’ll go back and forth between what is happening to and around Jazz to what is happening to and around The Impressionist. By not writing this book in first person, Lyga allows the reader to have some insight into the killer’s mind and plans. Even though the narrator guides you through what The Impressionist is doing at times, you do not lose any thrill or suspense. At times you are even more surprised than the characters themselves who didn’t have your knowledge. Jazz is, as one reviewer put it, chillingly charming (Clare). He has seen some bad things, he may have even done some bad things, but you can’t help but like him. Jazz knows he is a master manipulator, Jazz knows that he can work people and a situation to his advantage but you cheer for him anyway. You want Jazz to conquer his inner demons and come out on top, a confident young man who won’t become like his Dear Old Dad despite Billy’s best efforts.

I Hunt Killer is fantastic from start to finish. It isn’t formulaic in the slightest, I found myself pleasantly surprised with every mysterious twist because I thought I had it all figured out, but I didn’t. I wasn’t even close and I’m so glad. This novel closely follows most of the basic rules for mysteries, with one big exception. The actual murderer is never thought to be a suspect until the moment when you find out he is actually the killer. If Jazz or the police had suspected him from the beginning it would’ve seemed disingenuous. But no one suspected him and that is what made the ending so, so good.

The only weakness in this book is the lack of realism, and it isn’t really a weakness at all because without it there wouldn’t be a story. Jazz is a high school student whose father is a notorious murderer with kills into the triple-digits. The desperate local law enforcement actually allows him to assist in the solving of the crimes. They bring him to fresh crime scenes and he gets official copies of reports. This would never happen in a real life high profile serial killer case, but if it didn’t happen there wouldn’t really be a story here so you happily play along. Unrealistic elements are commonplace in mysteries, “they have almost nothing to do with real-life detection by police or private agents” (Nilsen, 2012, p. 245). In order to enjoy this book you have to suspend most of our disbelief and of course you will because you’ll love it and you’ll love Jazz.

 

References

Clare, C. (n.d.). Amazon.com: I hunt killers by barry lyga. Retrieved from http://www.amazon.com

Nilsen, A., Blasingame, J., Donelson, K., & Nilsen, D. (2012). Literature for today’s young adults. (9th ed.). Upper Saddle River: Pearson.