Title: The Taking of Jake Livingston
Author: Ryan Douglass
Genre: Young Adult, Horror, Fantasy, LGBT
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Release Date: July 13, 2021
Get Out meets Danielle Vega in this YA horror where survival is not a guarantee.
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.
Jake Livingston feels like an outsider because he’s one of the only Black kids at St. Clair Prep and he’s not as popular as his older brother. Jake can also see dead people. He sees the way people died on a loop in the place where they died. Teens start dying in mysterious ways, and they were all connected to a school shooting in a different high school. Jake meets Sawyer, the ghost of the school shooter who is taking revenge on the survivors of the shooting. Jake has to figure out a way to stop Sawyer before he takes over Jake’s life next.
At first glance, this was a horror story with gruesome deaths. However, Jake’s story had a lot of layers. Jake felt like an outsider at school because of his race and his ability to see ghosts. At home he also felt like an outsider because he didn’t think his family would accept that he was gay. After a while, I realized that Jake and Sawyer had a lot in common. They had both been abused by their family, and were headed on a similar path. It was up to Jake to decide if he had the same ending as Sawyer or not.
There were quite a few disturbing scenes in this book. Jake witnessed many deaths on a loop. There was a school shooting as well as a suicide. There was also an attempted rape and child abuse. These are potentially triggering scenes but they were brief.
The Taking of Jake Livingston is a creepy horror story!
Thank you Penguin Teen for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
What to read next:
Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas
Love and Other Curses by Michael Thomas Ford
Have you read The Taking of Jake Livingston? What did you think of it?