by Norah McClintock
Orca Book Publishers, 2009
$12.95, pp 165, ages 12+
Abduction of our children by an unknown person is the number one concern of modern parents. It is the reason streets are empty of kids playing outside and why the Kiss and Ride drop-off at school is backed up with parent drivers every beautiful, sunny morning.
Norah McClintock uses this fear as the theme and storyline of her new book Taken. Stephanie is still mourning the loss of her dad in a car crash when her mom meets and falls for Gregg, who is the complete opposite of her cultured, hard-working father. Needless to say, conflict arises between the new boyfriend and Stephanie whenever they meet, even over such trivialities as how to drink out of the orange juice container. That story is layered over the disappearance and subsequent killings of two girls, roughly the same ages and shape as Stephanie, living in their quiet, rural area.
One of the more interesting themes is how Stephanie’s relationship with her mother shifts throughout the book. Her mother’s choice of companion is a complete mystery to Stephanie as her mother plans to give her dad’s insurance money to the boyfriend to start a mysterious, unnamed business. She is unsure about her mother’s affection and wonders instead if her mother has transferred her affection and loyalty to Gregg. This shift is only touched upon by the author and the reader is left unsatisfied by the absence of some resolution.
For reluctant readers, this book is simple, easy to follow and the outcome is clear early on in the story; it ensures success immediately. For avid readers who have strayed away from formulaic writing to something more original, this is a quick page turner and not really worth the effort.
This review is from Canadian Teacher Magazine’s May 2010 issue.