Rating: 4 / 5
After seeing several great reviews from trusted sources, I jumped at the chance to join in on a buddy read for THE TAKING OF JAKE LIVINGSTON on bookstagram!
THE TAKING OF JAKE LIVINGSTON centers on two young men. Jake is the only Black kid in his class at St. Claire Prep and he’s always felt out of place. Add onto that he’s gay and he can see ghosts. Most of the time the ghosts are fairly harmless, possibly even a bit humorous, stuck in their out of date fashions, living their death moments in a loop time after time.
The second focus of the book is Sawyer, a teen from another school who shot and killed six students before killing himself. Jake quickly learns that Sawyer is far from harmless when he kills a neighbor boy, one of the survivors of Sawyer’s original assault on the high school. Sawyer is fueled by darkness and his bloodthirst is soon pointed Jake’s direction as well.
Trigger warnings also: gun violence, school shootings, homophobia, racism, suicide and mental health issues to name a few.
This is a fairly short book at only about 240 pages, but it packs a lot in. While it is a spooky read and the author does a fantastic job of building up the dark atmosphere of the spirit world Jake sees, the truly scary parts aren’t so fantastical at all. Jake’s struggles with being different and the pain of dealing with bullies at his school come strongly through the page. We get Sawyer’s perspective from before the school shooting in the form of journal entries. He’s a struggling boy who doesn’t know how to handle everything that is going on inside him and the things that are happening to him. Though we know his ending is not good, his story is heartbreaking as well.
In terms of the horror aspect, I sometimes wanted a little bit more about Jake’s backstory and how he came to discover what he could do and how to control it, etc. but that was relatively minor in the grand scheme of the story. Overall this was a great ghost story with a lot of hard hitting topics well mixed in.
(My cupcake started out as a cute ghost until he took a few tumbles around on the drive home from the bakery, but I thought the banged up ghost was still kinda fitting for this dark ghostly read!)