The Taken by Vicki Pettersson
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
Even though I’m not especially fond of angels, I decided to try out this new series based on my previous experiences with Vicki Pettersson’s work. Sadly, after an intriguing first chapter, any enjoyment I may have expected never came knocking (guess it was too busy knockin’ on heaven’s door).
Meet one of the two main characters, rockabilly girl Katherine “Kit” Craig. She’s an eternally optimistic and peppy reporter whose best friend and co-worker, Nicole, was just murdered while following a lead. Our other MC is a haunted Centurion angel named Griffin Shaw who ushers the newly murdered into the afterlife, otherwise known as the Everlast, while bemoaning the murders of both himself and his wife Evie back in 1960. After making a mistake concerning Nicole, he’s been sent back to earth as a human with some angelic senses still intact. Kit and Grif soon meet up and begin investigating the circumstances around Nicole’s death, whilst Griffin seeks out any details involving his own.
Problem Number One
The Cardboard Characters
Character development is supposed to unfold over the course of a book, in this case it actually appeared to deteriorate as the book went on. Kit never developed into anything but one of those annoyingly chipper people you just want to hit with a sledgehammer, while Grif started promisingly enough but then stagnated. They were both very shallow characterizations, and on top of that, I never understood Kit’s actions or reactions to just about anything. I never felt her sadness about her best friend’s death, whom she rarely gave a passing thought, believed she was smart (by the end, I thought her a dolt), or seem in any way human with nary a rational thought in her head. About mid-way through the book, Grif tells her he’s an angel after they kiss, so what does she do? Does she a) run away screaming, b) think he’s a few feathers short of a goose and tell him to get hell out of her house and life, or c) have a calm Q&A session followed by giving him a whatfor that consists of “I won’t kiss you again” and “you’re watching me walk out that door (in her own house) because you can’t handle any emotion blah, blah, blah by pretending you’re an angel” and then proceed to attend a charity event wherein she acts and converses normally, like nothing happened? If you picked “c” *ding ding ding*, you’re a winner! Because as we all know, any sensible guy will pull out the “I’m an angel” trick and expect a woman to believe him. *rolls eyes* Never was it ever crystal clear if Kit thought Grif was either crazy or a liar. It was all a bit hazy, but what can you expect from someone we’re never allowed to know? All we discern is she dresses and lives (somewhat) rockabilly, but it’s all a veneer to her hollowness inside, which led me to dub her Rockabilly Barbie.
Because that’s all she is and nothing more. The only character that I found a little more well-rounded was the secondary character Bridget Moore and the two Centurions introduced close to the end. Everyone else was either forgettably two-dimensional or they were a caricature, a la Caleb Chambers and Paul Raggio.
Problem Number Two:
I’m expected to believe in a possible relationship between Grif and
Rockabilly Barbie Kit, but there’s not much there to believe in. Like the characters, it was shallow with the same descriptions reiterated over and over again. Basically it’s a case of telling instead of showing. I felt no love, maybe some attraction, but that’s all she wrote. Likewise I never bought that Kit and Paul could ever have gotten far enough to be married, they were just too different. Most people don’t do a 180 after they get married, the seed of who Paul really was deep down inside would have already been there and if Kit was even a fraction astute, she should have caught that. All this served was to be a plot point in the book.
Problem Number Three:
The main plot involving Nicole’s death and Chambers had a “been there, done that” quality to it. The plot didn’t shock me or seem like anything new, I’ve come across the same before or at least plots that were very close, and it wasn’t even told in a fresh way. So I wasn’t as affected by anything in the book as I probably should have been, partially due to the indifference I felt and the fact that I figured out everything long before the author dropped, what I guess she thought, were informational bombshells.
The book had three major plotlines: Grif and Evie’s deaths, Nicole’s death/prostitution ring, and Grif and the Pure Anas’ philosophical moments. They weren’t juggled well at all. Ms. Pettersson should have picked only one and paid more attention to developing that specific plot and the characters. The scenes with Anas (or Anne) especially didn’t mesh with the other stories and felt as if the author was overreaching the boundaries set up by the book. One scene in particular was extremely bizarre and pointless to the book as a whole.
Where was the noir? I’ve seen enough film noirs to know it ain’t here.
Problem Number Four
What happened at the end is what I’d expect in a book that’s exclusively romance and not in a mystery/urban fantasy hybrid, which made the rushed ending seem even more ridiculous and sappy. It was incredibly unbelievable to the story and didn’t seem to set up the next book in any way. Also, one of the plotlines was all but left dangling with no foreshadowing or anything. Poor, poor, poor execution. Don’t expound on a storyline if you’re not going to finish it up or at least leave it dangling in a way that makes the reader want to come back. All that boring set-up for a completely stupid and cheesy ending. I expected rainbows and unicorns to pop out at any moment.
Overall the book felt more like a rough copy than a finished one and definitely could have used a few more goings over. Several descriptions were rushed and chaotic or simply poorly done so that I was scrambling to picture what was going on. The book is almost 400 pages and it is simply too long. With so many storylines, I’m not sure how they managed to both crawl and have very little action at the same time. I was going to give this two stars because I didn’t hate the book, that would imply that it elicited any feelings what-so-ever, but the truth of the matter is that there isn’t one thing I really liked about the book either. The only way I’d read a sequel to the bafflingly-named Celestial Blues series is if it featured different leads like the aforementioned Centurions, and even then I’d cautiously dip my toes into the book.
Originally reviewed: June 29
Received: Amazon Vine