Monday, May 26, 2008

The Taker by JM Steele

If Aella Siofra were to read the back of a novel entitled The Taker at the library and find it interesting, then take it home for the process of reading, would she find said novel:

(a) interesting and funny
(b) overblown and depressing
(c) clever and fast-paced, while including the attributes of (a)
(d) dull and unconvincing
Answer: (c)

Carly Biels is a legacy. At least she will be if she makes it into Princeton, the college of her dreams. And why wouldn't she? Her grades are excellent, her father has influence, and her social life is blooming. But all that comes crashing down when her mental block towards test-taking catches up with her in the most important exam of her high-school career. The SAT. After having tanked the most highly regarded college entrance assessment in the United States, Carly is desperate and will do almost anything to restore her position on the fast-track to Princeton. So when she receives a mysterious message signed by a shady figure known only as "The Taker", she agrees to his terms. He'll get her within 150 points of perfect on the exam... if she does exactly what he tells her.

One part of the agreement is that Carly continue to study. That way, it will look less suspicious when her score climbs 500 points in a few short weeks. It seems the only way to carry on is to hire a tutor. EVEN if it's the school geek, Ronald Gross (rhymes with "floss"). EVEN if said school geek is completely in love with her. EVEN if that might call forth complications with her boyfriend, the captain of the school lacrosse team. But through the weeks of interactive learning, Carly discovers there is more to Ron/Ronnie/Ronald than meets the eye. With his help, she is rapidly and visibly improving. But when there is no need for The Taker any longer, getting out of the pact is harder than she had expected. Even impossible. And as the search for The Taker is stepped up, Carly begins to wonder- will the desperation of her past keep her from having any future at all?

I really enjoyed this novel. The plot moved along quickly and in a perfectly plausible fashion. And if you've been through high school (or are still in it), you can completely relate to the emotions and stresses of Carly's every day life. JM Steele encompassed every element of life, including (but not limited to): friends, boy/girlfriends, stress, tests, road blocks, expectations, failure, and secrets. Carly dealt with her problems through humor and quick thinking, although she sometimes found herself saying or doing things she didn't mean to. This was a surprisingly human and excellent part of her character. I really cared about how she would end up, and was crossing my fingers that the repercussions of The Taker (the character) wouldn't be too horrible.

Not to mention the continuous plot twists. The ending was one big firework of ????WHAT???? And that's really all I can say to keep from ruining the story. My one complaint is that Carly stayed with her imbecilic, Neanderthal boyfriend for as long as she did. It made me lose a little bit of respect for her, if it was ever so small an amount. All the same, I would recommend this book as a great beach read, anytime read, or fast paced in-the-car/on-the-bus on the way to school/work read (might take a few of those to finish it - and please don't read and drive at the same time).

6.5 out of 7
for an intriguing and clever YA novel that should be more popular than it is.

Looking for Other JM Steele books and Still in Ending-Shock,


Anonymous said...

hey, i think i've read that one.

Reader Rabbit said...

Sounds really good. I added it to my tbr list!

Em said...

Didn't J.M. Steele write The Market? Have you read that one? It's a really interesting and incredibly good read. And I think that J.M. Steele is a pen name for two authors, possibly girls. I'm not positive though.

Aislinn Ai said...

Great review! I liked this book too-- it reminded me of Crunch Time, which was also good.


PS em-- yep, J.M. Steele is a pseudonym for two authors. They both work in the entertainment industry, though I've no idea what gender they are.

Medeia said...

Sounds intriguing. I'll have to steal-- I mean, you'll have to let me borrow that one.

Anonymous said...

I have this book- it's not mine though! I still have to return it to a middle school teacher. I really enjoyed it as an easy read.

Dominique said...

This book sounds good! Did you read JM Steele's other book, The Market? I actually just finished it & posted my review for it :) It was a pretty good read--quite creative!

& thanks for all the support you've given me for my 1st giveaways :) I really appreciate it!