The Taking of Jake Livingston

The Taking of Jake Livingston
Age Range
Release Date
July 13, 2021
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Sixteen-year-old Jake Livingston sees dead people everywhere. But he can't decide what's worse: being a medium forced to watch the dead play out their last moments on a loop or being at the mercy of racist teachers as one of the few Black students at St. Clair Prep. Both are a living nightmare he wishes he could wake up from. But things at St. Clair start looking up with the arrival of another Black student—the handsome Allister—and for the first time, romance is on the horizon for Jake. Unfortunately, life as a medium is getting worse. Though most ghosts are harmless and Jake is always happy to help them move on to the next place, Sawyer Doon wants much more from Jake. In life, Sawyer was a troubled teen who shot and killed six kids at a local high school before taking his own life. Now he's a powerful, vengeful ghost and he has plans for Jake. Suddenly, everything Jake knows about dead world goes out the window as Sawyer begins to haunt him. High school soon becomes a different kind of survival game—one Jake is not sure he can win.

Editor review

1 review
Book and Audio Review: The Taking of Jake Livingston
(Updated: July 12, 2021)
Overall rating
Writing Style
I really enjoyed this story. I’ve been looking forward to this book since last year and was so excited to finally read it. Horror is one of my favorite genres, even if I don’t read it too much. It’s hard to find a book that really scares me or gives me that specific atmosphere I am looking for. Douglass did a great job creating this lonely atmosphere that Jake pretty much lives in since he constantly sees ghosts and ghouls. I really appreciated the difference between the two and how they were described in their actions. The story had a good plot and kicked off right away. The two point of views were perfect for this book, as the more Sawyer’s story unfolded, it became clear how if affected Jake. This isn’t a basic ghost story, but rather a possession story, which is cleverly indicated from the title. It was interesting to see how overtime Jake’s personality had started to change. Not only was Jake having to deal with the consequences of what Sawyer was doing to Jake’s life but Jake had other personal issues he was trying to address also. The whole story was definitely Jake developing his character through different means. One of the only aspects that I really didn’t like and it kept me from fully enjoying the story was Sawyer himself. It was briefly stated on why he was doing what he was and it didn’t really feel like enough. I just wish there was little more to the why this was all happening. However, it was interesting on how Sawyer was gaining power.

Jake was such a great character to follow. He starts off meek and quiet, just keeping to himself. But as the story goes on and Sawyer influences seem to be driving Jake’s character a little, he definitely goes on a different path than he expected. Even though the actions that Sawyer has Jake do are not good, if they would have never happened then most likely Jake wouldn’t have ended up the way he did at the end. Jake would have most likely stayed a quiet boy who just let things slide. Instead, he started to learn how to stand up for himself and not be afraid to take the things he wanted. I really enjoyed this developmental stage for Jake and it really showed what an awesome character he is.

Overall, The Taking of Jake Livingston by Ryan Douglass was a great YA horror book. The atmosphere created was perfect for this setting and I really enjoyed the way everything was set up. Along with a great environment for our main character to develop in, the pacing of the book was really well done. It wasn’t a long book and there were just a couple of extra details I would have really enjoyed but the book did what it set out to do. Give us a fantastic possession story and taught our main character that there is more to life than to just sit by and let things pass him by. I really enjoyed Jake and his development throughout the story. The ending really showed how much Jake had developed through all this experience and I do believe it made him better. I highly recommend this book if you enjoy spooky and ghost stories with a hero that begins quiet but in end, truly finds himself.

NOTE: The narration does not affect my rating of the book
What a fantastic audio this was. I really enjoyed the narration done by both Kevin R. Free and Michael Crouch. I’ve only listened to Kevin Free once before but I’ve listened to several books narrated by Michael Crouch. Each one did a fantastic job bringing their character, and story, to life. They both worked well together to give the voices and really set the atmosphere as well. If you like audio, this is one I highly recommend and wouldn’t skip.
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