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Monday, September 12, 2011

The Taker by Alma Katsu

The Taker (Book 1) by Alma Katsu

Grade: 4.5 stars out of 5
Surgeon Luke Findley is working the night shift at the hospital in a small town in Maine when a young woman accused of murder is brought in for an evaluation. The girl, Lanny, admits her guilt to Luke but also begs him to help her escape. However, he doesn’t give it a second thought until Lanny cuts herself and heals miraculously. Suddenly, play-it-safe Luke turns to his subconscious to let his impulses out in order to help Lanny escape across the border, all the while telling her story of love, beauty, sex, and immortality.
Yan gave me this book to read. “Start with it first,” she said. I never heard of it and it’s not even young adult (what I usually read). The Taker would never appeal to me, especially with the synopsis that is given. The Taker is close to a “bosom-heaving romance” (Yan’s words) [ETA by Yan: LOL, I was implying "bosom-heaving romances" to another book which I stuck in the bag for you], but without the descriptiveness, which I was grateful for. And it is well-written, with an even flow and classic 19th century air of politeness (similar to Jane Austen). I found that I really enjoyed it. The plot only dragged on in a few places, but everything Lanny told Luke was important. Even the things she omitted only enhanced the magic (I admit it; I stayed up for an extra ten minutes wondering what terrible thing happened to Lanny that she didn’t tell Luke). I really like the whole story-telling bit. I even liked the story-within-a-story, how it was Lanny telling Adair’s background. It just seemed more real, or at least as real as you can get with a character that’s immortal.

On the point of immortality, I loved that magical realism element: we don’t know why, but we are, and we’re just doing to live with it. How very Kafka (^_~). One of my favorite things about high school English class was reading magical realism, and The Metamorphosis was one of the few stories I completely finished in high school. (Spoiler alert?)The best part of this immortality business was at the very end where Luke sorta-kinda wants it, and Lanny just wants to be done with it. Honestly, while I didn’t like the ending compared to the rest of the novel, it was the only way to finish it.

Most of the book was about Lanny, but Katsu didn’t write about Lanny; she wrote about Lanny and Luke. So this was as much Luke’s journey as Lanny’s which moved me. Lanny helped Luke break out of his shell, his daily routine of *blah blah I-need-to-leave-but-I-won’t-blah*. Luke was the first person Lanny met after her arrest that Lanny felt she could trust, which was why she told him the truth, which would be the first step to breaking the spell, and everything just comes together.

I didn’t like the ending. I wanted ACTION. But like I said, it was appropriate. I also didn’t like the fact that the story didn’t return to Luke’s mother’s death. I thought it would somehow be important to the plot, but it wasn’t (though as I’m writing this I think I understand why she died that way *cough cough* more magical realism).

One last comment, my late grandfather once told me that it’s a mitzvah (~human kindness) to “die on your own”. My grandfather said this in Russian, so I’m roughly translating. What he meant, I think, is that it’s a mitzvah to not expire on someone else’s command, whether it’s a doctor or someone else. I thought about this a lot, since my grandfather died ~2 months ago on his own, and I just thought that this fit rather well with the theme of the novel. Once you read The Taker, I think you’ll understand. *wink*

All in all, The Taker was a great read, and it decidedly answers the question "Who Wants to Live Forever?".


Source: I borrowed this book from Yan. And she didn’t give me the cover, though I would LOVE to see it.

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