Get Out meets Danielle Vega in this YA horror where survival is not a guarantee.
Jake Livingston is one of the only Black kids at St. Clair Prep, one of the others being his infinitely more popular older brother. It’s hard enough fitting in but to make matters worse and definitely more complicated, Jake can see the dead. In fact he sees the dead around him all the time. Most are harmless. Stuck in their death loops as they relive their deaths over and over again, they don’t interact often with people. But then Jake meets Sawyer. A troubled teen who shot and killed six kids at a local high school last year before taking his own life. Now a powerful, vengeful ghost, he has plans for his afterlife–plans that include Jake. Suddenly, everything Jake knows about ghosts and the rules to life itself go out the window as Sawyer begins haunting him and bodies turn up in his neighborhood. High school soon becomes a survival game–one Jake is not sure he’s going to win.
This debut horror novel definitely needs more readers. I was immediately pulled into this story and I couldn’t wait to see how the protagonist dealt with conflict that was thrust upon him. I am somewhat new to horror novels, one of my more recent horror reads being Mexican Gothic. This is definitely my first YA horror read though.
Douglass did not disappoint at all. The atmosphere and pacing of the book very much felt like a movie and something that I could fully immerse myself in. For this debut to be a shorter novel, I felt it was very important to nail the tone and atmosphere in the book within the first 50 pages and the author did exactly that. I could feel the fog in the room and the cold against my skin.
I also thought the character of Jake was very well developed. The juxtaposition of Jake and the rest of his classmates at St. Clair Prep and even his own brother really drives home how isolated our MC can feel over the course of his story. He’s one of the only black students at his high school and experiences racism and microaggression very frequently. And Jake’s brother is also super outspoken and more built than Jake is. Jake constantly wonders what his life would be like if he resembled his brother more. So on top of dealing with everything going on in his daily life, he also has to deal with the ghost of a murderer!
I thought that the romance in this story was very short and sweet! I do wish we would’ve gotten more of Jake and his love interest, but the pieces we do get fit well within the story and offer a nice sort of break from the mess Jake is currently going through.
Overall, I feel that this debut is perfect for horror fans of any age. It’s also a relatively quick read and can definitely be finished in one sitting!
Meet the Author
Ryan Douglass is an author, poet, and freelance writer from Atlanta, Georgia. His work on race, literacy, sexuality, and media representation has appeared in The Huffington Post, Atlanta Black Star, Everyday Feminism, Nerdy POC, Age of Awareness, LGBTQ Nation, and Medium, among others. His debut novel, THE TAKING OF JAKE LIVINGSTON, is a YA horror out through Penguin/Putnam July13th, 2021.
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