The Taker isn’t a bad book; it is an offensive book. It is riddled with rape/torture scenes, and that is not something to be taken lightly. If you are uncomfortable (as we all should be), with sexual violence, you should probably stay away from this book. There are some entertaining parts to the story and Katsu’s prose is fairly good, but I don’t think that I could in good conscience recommend this book.
My first problem with The Taker is that it seems to confuse love for obsession. Nearly the first 100 pages describe how the main character, Lanny, was in love with Jonathan St. Andrew from the time she was a little girl and how she would do anything to be with him, including causing a pregnant girl to commit suicide. It is fairly obvious that somehow Jonathan is enthralling Lanny and every other woman in town, but it isn’t obvious how, exactly, it is that he is doing it.
This also seems to be the case with Lanny and Dr. Luke Findlay to whom Lanny is telling her story. From the moment Luke meets Lanny, he is willing to do anything for her–even helping her escape police custody and head into Canada to escape a murder charge!
Another problem that I have with The Taker is that it is extremely illogical. Ms. Katsu doesn’t really explain her world building and as other reviewers have mentioned she seems to be relying on the vampire myth and the current obsession with anything vampire related. She doesn’t come straight out and say that Lanny is a vampire, and she isn’t, but she obviously wants you to associate whatever Lanny is with vampirism.
A third problem was the fact that the narration jumps from character to character, and at first this isn’t a bad thing. However, when we suddenly jumped from Lanny’s POV to another ancillary character’s POV it was really jarring, and at times it felt like a completely different book. (It doesn’t help that Lanny’s portion is in first person and this other character’s is in third person.)
Finally, while all of the history seems to be really well researched, there is a part of the narrative that had me raising my eyebrow, and wondering if Ms. Katsu was sitting with her copy of Harry Potter (I’m not sure which one–maybe The Chamber of Secrets) because the scene in which the alchemist is explaining mandrake roots to Adair, the thing that made Lanny the way she is, smacks of the scene from Harry Potter where Harry and his friends learn of mandrake roots and their deadly screams. If I were J.K. Rowling, I would look into this and think of suing Ms. Katsu for plagiarism.
In the end, I wasn’t able to finish the book, despite the Ms. Katsu’s decent writing style. The rape/torture scenes were more than a little upsetting, and I think that if there weren’t a part of the story (or maybe if they weren’t described in such detail, especially the scene in which Lanny finds out that she is leaking blood and feces because of a gang rape it would have been a much better book–or at least a book I would have been able to finish it.