The Taking of Jake Livingston
Author: Ryan Douglass
To Be Published: July 13, 2021
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: June 10-17, 2021
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars
Sixteen-year-old Jake Livingston sees dead people everywhere. But he can’t decide what’s worse: being a medium forced to watch the dead play out their last moments on a loop or being at the mercy of racist teachers as one of the few Black students at St. Clair Prep. Both are a living nightmare he wishes he could wake up from. But things at St. Clair start looking up with the arrival of another Black student—the handsome Allister—and for the first time, romance is on the horizon for Jake.
Unfortunately, life as a medium is getting worse. Though most ghosts are harmless and Jake is always happy to help them move on to the next place, Sawyer Doon wants much more from Jake. In life, Sawyer was a troubled teen who shot and killed six kids at a local high school before taking his own life. Now he’s a powerful, vengeful ghost and he has plans for Jake. Suddenly, everything Jake knows about dead world goes out the window as Sawyer begins to haunt him. High school soon becomes a different kind of survival game—one Jake is not sure he can win
As a part of June’s prompt for #Diverseathon2021I read The Taking of Jake Livingston which features a main character that is LQBTQ+. My copy was also an arc copy, the book will be released on July 13, 2021. This is a YA novel but more so of a horror novel. We have a main character that is gay and I read this novel for #Diverseathon for the month of June as the prompt is a main character who is LQBTQ. I also liked that the novel takes place in Georgia and the author is from the state. Places are mentioned that I know of which made the novel more enjoyable for me.
Our main character Jake is different in several ways: He is one of just a few black students at his private school, one of those students being his brother. Jake is also gay and in the closet. Jake also has a unique ability that he does not enjoy: He sees ghosts and they constantly replay their last moments before death. Eventually these ghosts do completely disappear. Eventually these ghosts do completely disappear, until Jake comes across one particular ghost named Sawyer who was a school shooter. And this ghost has plans for Jake.
This is a short novel, just over 250 pages and it packs quite the punch in those few pages. The last third of the novel really picks up the pace and I could not put it down: I had to know what was going to happen to Jake! There is a horror element that was a bit intense as Sawyer is a frightening and evil ghost! Sawyer is a Michael Myers type of ghost. Both Jake and Sawyer are our narrators (Sawyer through his diary). We learn about Sawyer’s difficult life and in some ways have a little bit of empathy for him.
There is a little bit of a romance that tries to develop when Allister arrives to the school, but Jake fears for Allister’s safety.
I enjoyed this novel and will be on the lookout for what comes next from Ryan Douglass. After all, he’s from Georgia too!
I received an arc copy from the publisher via Bookish First.
June’s host is Danyel at dany.alvey over at Instagram. She is having a giveaway of $15 to Book Depository (or Amazon for a US winner) for your choice of a book. This is an international giveaway! Be sure to check out her Instagram for full details on that giveaway.