Book Review: The Girl Who Was Taken (Charlie Donlea) @KensingtonBooks @CharlieDonlea

The Girl Who Was Taken.pngFollowing two high school seniors, Megan and Nicole, in a small town who go missing at a beach party one summer evening. With no clues or leads, police are shocked when one of the teens, Megan, miraculously escapes and finds her way back home. A year later, Megan has written a book about her experiences and Nicole’s sister, Livia, has never given up hope that her sister could be alive. The Girl Who Was Taken, by Charlie Donlea, follows these women as their paths collide, connections are made and truths are revealed.

Sounds crazy right?

When #cjsreads decided to read this as a May pick, I was ecstatic.

As mentioned, the novel opens a year after Nicole and Megan disappeared. Megan is on a book tour. Nicole’s sister is finishing her residency as a pathologist. The beginning of this book was slow.   As Nicole’s sister is a pathologist, most of her narration was technical and heavily medical. This was hard for me to follow.

However, about halfway through the novel, the switch was flipped and the pace began to pick up. I was hooked.  Donlea gives a whole new meaning to slow burn.

This novel lured me in and, before I knew it, I was out of breath, racing to the finish line.

Told in many different narratives styles, I loved how the plot unfolded. Megan’s chapters surround her psychiatrist visits in which she is undergoing hypnosis to reveal the events of her two weeks in captivity. Livia’s chapters speak to her desperate attempts to make connections to her sister’s disappearance. With flashbacks to the past, the summer leading up to the abductions and Nicole’s shady behaviour, Donlea manages to blend all of these story lines together effortlessly. The abductor even gets a few chapters to explain his sick fantasies.

There were more than a few moments where this novel went into YA territory for me, but, surprisingly, this didn’t bother me one bit. Perhaps it was the intellect of Donlea’s prose that kept me hooked, but my eyes didn’t leave the pages once I was hooked!

I also made many any attempt to guess the resolution of this one and, I am pleased to report, I was wrong on all fronts!

If you want a slow burning mystery that will leave you guessing, I believe you have just found your next read!

5/5 stars!

 Thanks to the author (Charlie Donlea) and the publisher (Kensington Publishing) for the copy of this novel; it was my pleasure to provide an honest review!

Keep reading to see what Chandra and Jessica thought of this pick for May!

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What Chandra Thought:

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5/5 twisty stars!

I’m not going to even bother going over the synopsis of this book for you – I’m just going to tell you to read it. Go now. Pick up this book, make sure you have a few hours to spare, sit your ass down and READ THIS. Love twisty mysteries? Love crime and suspense? Love thinking you know where the book is going and then having the end slap you in the face so hard your jaw not only drops, it falls off your face entirely? I would be beyond surprised if you did NOT like this, that’s how strongly I feel about it.
I was even talking about this to my non-bookish friends… one of which, before I could even get past the title, says “Taken? Like as in Liam Neeson Taken?” Haha. Well, no. Though had he been on this case, I’m sure it would have made for a MUCH different read.What’s compelling to me is seeing an abduction survivor’s story AFTER the escape and in the present – not just in flashbacks, know what I mean? I don’t believe I’ve read (m)any that went in this direction. While we see through a few POVs, the main characters are easy to gain empathy for and the author does a fantastic job of building their story lines. Staying mostly in the present, with snippets of the past leading up to the abduction(s), Charlie Donlea weaves this story in a way that methodically brings the conclusion to light.

What you may not like about this book (because let’s face it, reviews are just opinions right?):
1. Admittedly, it did take me a few chapters to really get into the nitty gritty of the storyline. There’s a lot of medical/pathology terminology thrown in that made me wonder for a short stint if it was going to be over saturated to the point of making me yawn (even though I am utterly enthralled about this type of work)… But right about a quarter of the way in, it took off for me and that was it. Screw the rest of the world, my priority is now set to figuring out what the hell is happening.
2. You may notice a few things that feel a bit haphazardly thrown in, hinting at the prospect of where the narrative is supposedly going, but then it just kind of falls off and while some might wonder about it, the rest of the story line worked well enough and pulled me in so hard, that meh – who cares?

But to these two points above, let me put it in New York terms, fuggedaboutit!

 

What Jessica Thought:

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The Girl Who Was Taken was my intro to Charlie Donlea and I absolutely loved it! I didn’t know too much about the book going into it (which I think helps with the reading experience – no hype associated with it), but I was not disappointed. The characters, twists, and story. All were awesome!    Nicole Cutty and Megan McDonald are both high school seniors in a small North Carolina town. One night, at a summer beach party, they both go missing and a massive police search begins. When no clues are found, and hope is almost gone, Megan miraculously resurfaces after escaping from a bunker deep in the woods.     Fast forward a year, the bestselling account of her ordeal has turned Megan from local hero to national celebrity. It’s a triumphant, inspiring story, except for one inconvenient detail: Nicole is still missing. Nicole’s older sister Livia, an expert in forensic pathology, is hoping that one day soon, they’ll find Nicole’s body and it’ll be up to her to examine her sister’s body to learn what really happened. Other girls have gone missing too, and Livia is convinced the cases are connected. Livia seeks out the help of Megan to find her missing sister.

Megan knows more than she revealed in her blockbuster book. Flashes of memory are coming together, pointing to something darker and more monstrous than her chilling memoir describes. And the deeper she and Livia dig, the more they realize that sometimes true terror lies in finding exactly what you’ve been looking for.

This was creepy and thrilling. I couldn’t put it down! The characters were well developed and you felt a connection with the girls. Livia in her search for her sister, Megan in her struggle of recalling memories of what really happened that night, and then the ever present question – where is Nicole? I enjoyed the forensics and the autopsies – they were a nice change from the constant police procedural thrillers. Everything was incredibly descriptive and gripping.
I give this 5/5 stars!

 

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