Review: The Girl Who Was Taken by Charlie Donlea

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

Charlie Donlea, one of the most original new voices in suspense, returns with a haunting novel, laden with twists and high tension, about two abducted girls one who returns, one who doesn t and the forensics expert searching for answers.

Nicole Cutty and Megan McDonald are both high school seniors in the small town of Emerson Bay, North Carolina. When they disappear from a beach party one warm summer night, police launch a massive search. No clues are found, and hope is almost lost until Megan miraculously surfaces after escaping from a bunker deep in the woods.

A year later, 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, a fellow in forensic pathology, expects that one day soon Nicole’s body will be found, and it will be up to someone like Livia to analyze the evidence and finally determine her sister’s fate. Instead, the first clue to Nicole’s disappearance comes from another body that shows up in Livia’s morgue that of a young man connected to Nicole’s past. Livia reaches out to Megan for help, hoping to learn more about the night the two were taken. Other girls have gone missing too, and Livia is increasingly certain the cases are connected.

But 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.

I am usually very stingy when it comes to buying books – especially when it’s by an author I’ve never read before. However, I have seen several really great review for The Girl Who Was Taken, so when I saw the ebook was on sale it seemed like a no brainer to snatch it up. Unfortunately, I wish I would’ve waited for it to come to the library. It wasn’t a bad book, but it definitely didn’t live up to my expectations.

It took quite awhile for me to really get into the story. While the POV shifted between several characters, the main character was Medical-Examiner-in-training Livia. So much of Livia’s POV was taken up by really clinical details about autopsies and other medical things. While I appreciate the author’s very thorough research, it was just way too much for me. I felt kind of ambivalent towards her as a character. I felt like she had no personality. She had some obvious empathy, but often times she came off as kind of robotic. I also thought it was too convenient in how easy her investigation went. Everything just kind of worked out and led her to the next clue.

In addition to the shifting POV, the timeline shifted as well. I think that the flashback chapters to what led up to the night Megan and Nicole went missing is where the book really shined. The characters seemed a lot more developed and that’s where a lot of the creepy factor came in, which I enjoyed. I was always a little disappointed when the chapters shifted back to the present.

Overall, The Girl Who Was Taken was just ok for me. I thought the overall mystery was pretty well done. I had several suspects and while the culprit ended up being one of them, it wasn’t one of my top suspects. I really enjoyed the flashback chapters, as well. However the lack of personality of the main character, the overly clinical descriptions, and the somewhat open ending left me feeling underwhelmed and a little disappointed that I spent money on this.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3.5 Stars

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