Taken – Book Review

“I drop the letter like it’s on fire, tears fall freely across my face. He’s coming for me.”

Stories of this genre always pull me in – I love anything creepy and out of the ordinary, though if it happened to me in real life, I would not love it at all… This book had many positives but also a few things I would change to make it even better. I’m happy to share my review with you all!

Taken by Sarah Jayne Harry follows the terrifying story of Tayla, who, after being followed for some time, finds herself kidnapped and thrown into a cell. After overcoming this traumatic experience and continuing with her life, she finds herself reliving her past once more. Will she ever find a way to escape, or is her life simply being written for her?

The beginning.

Another book in first person! Hooray! We’re instantly thrown into a strong prologue, and even though it’s short and sweet, it really gets us ready for what’s to come. I found myself asking a number of questions straight away; who is Tayla? Who are the dark figures? How did she get her injuries and who is she running from?

Sarah Jayne Harry writes as a typical teen in this book. Her words almost sound like a present tense diary, and she’s captured the voice of her MC really well. It took me back to being a teen myself, planning outings with my friends, having a laugh and trying not to get into too much mischief. Our main character here doesn’t seem to have a care in the world, and lives for having a great time with her friends. Just how life should be lived!

The story flows quickly, and I’m assuming this is because we’re leading up to something much bigger. There are a few minor details that are covered, some of which weren’t really necessary to get the point across, but saying this, I think it does add to the tone of voice Sarah is going for. There is a consistent tone and writing style and I think the opening of the story was really well put across.

Tayla doesn’t hear from her boyfriend Josh, which set those alarm bells ringing in my mind. I think knowing the genre of the book before I started to read kept me on edge a bit too much! Already, I didn’t want anything to happen to Josh, especially because he means so much to Tayla. I was still questioning who was going to be the one ‘taken’ – would it be someone close to Tayla, or Tayla herself?

“My mind conjures up an image of the mysterious man from last night. It’s him again, I know it.”

It’s not long before Tayla witnesses something else strange, more strange than Josh being unusually quiet. There is a man, a dark figure following her on her way home. I’m always a bit of a scaredy cat in the dark and any noises creep me out, so I really understand Tayla’s worry here! Who was this man and why was he following her? I couldn’t help but think we’d hear more about this dark figure further on in the story…

The middle.

It turns out that Tayla is indeed the one to be taken. She goes through such a scary ordeal, the one thing that many of us fear; being kidnapped. She doesn’t know why she has been taken or where she is going. She only feels fear and a desperate desire to escape and go home. As much as the plot was there, I felt as though something was missing throughout the kidnapping scenes.

I would have personally included more detail and more of a build up here, as things moved much more quickly than I’d have liked. In my eyes, this is a crucial part of the story! I feel like it could have been written to spark more fear in the reader, and I was left still wanting more. However, in Tayla’s eyes, I feel she wouldn’t really have known what to do or what is happening to her, so this part of the story does work in that sense.

Again, throughout the middle of the book, I felt as though I need more detail about the bigger events, and less about the insignificant ones. We go through each day quickly, and in some parts, I wished I could slow things down and really experience what Tayla is going through in much more detail. I wanted to feel sorry for her more than I did, because what she’s going through is obviously an awful experience. I really loved the plot however, and was eager to see if Tayla and the other girls who were being held hostage would ever find a way to escape.

There are some very sensitive topics covered in this book, including abuse and sexual abuse – there is a warning to notify readers of this. However, it educates us about human trafficking, awful experiences some girls have to go through and helps us to understand the fear and horror Tayla is experiencing. Very real and saddening, and an extremely brave move for the author.

“A horrible feeling settles into my stomach. Where are we?”

The middle of the book wasn’t as I expected, but the fact that things go back to normal so quickly after being taken is a big part of the plot. Just as we begin to get used to the fact that Tayla is home safe and her old friends slowly begin to fizzle out, something creepy starts to happen once again. Tayla has a stalker and will not leave her alone! Will she ever find out who this person is? Could this have anything to do with being taken all that time ago? I was curious to find out!

The end.

Tayla experiences a lot of what happened when she was first taken again, as a familiar face comes back to take her away once more. No matter how many times she tries to escape, this person is always there, keeping her hostage and making her life a misery. I was doubtful she’d ever be fully free while this person was alive. Is there really anything she can do to escape now?

Tayla’s kidnapper starts to become even more delusional. He begins to do things out of the ordinary and makes Tayla wonder if he really is losing his mind. She needs a plan to escape once and for all and to stop him from coming back for her, and even stop him from killing her family.

I enjoyed the last few chapters of the story most of all, and I thought the detail was much better here than it was throughout the middle of the book. I felt much more involved and finally started to warm to Tayla as a character. However, the unexpected happens and I was genuinely shocked by some of the decisions Tayla makes. No matter how disturbing the story is in parts, I feel like the main characters grow a lot and over time, things change. Whether it’s for the best or not, that’s something to be left to the imagination.

“Depression slowly sinks into my core and wears me down. My spirit is slowly being crushed.”

I had mixed thoughts about the end of the book – it was so different to what I imagined, but I guess that’s kind of a good thing too! Tayla goes through so much in her life that she learns to deal with things and live with it. A strong character, who, in the end, does what’s right for her, and no one else.

Overall thoughts.

The plot of this books was great – something creepy, scary and downright terrifying for anyone to go through. I did feel like some of the important details and scenes could have been explored further, as some of it seemed to be a little rushed. It worried me how little the events of Tayla’s life scarred her, and I began to question how realistic this was. If it was me, I would have certainly reacted much differently!

We watch our main character grow up quickly, and even though she is forced to do so, the story does end without there being any unanswered questions. I found it an educating read, but also something that would worry me if it was based on a real life story. If anyone likes a disturbing read, this is definitely the one for you!

A big thanks to Sarah Jayne Harry for submitting her book for me to read and review! You can get your own copy of Taken from Amazon, available on Kindle and paperback. 📚 You can also follow Sarah over on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for more updates!

Want a review? Just ask!

If you’re in need of a review for your own novel, get in touch! I cover most genres and I’m always looking for the next best thing. Email me at emilyquinn92@outlook.com with your request and I’ll put you on my review list. If you need a review quickly, visit my book review page for more details.

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