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.
Don’t let the title bother you. In fact, it was the only thing I didn’t like about this book. The Girl Who Was Taken is an amazing mystery and it’s also an emotional ride. Although I haven’t read the author’s previous novel, I will definitely keep an eye on everything he writes from now on.
While I was reading this fantastic book, I realized it was exactly my kind of novel, my favorite type of story. I guess I like that it’s a sibling (this time, the sister) investigating the crime. It allows you to become more attached to the story because the characters are directly involved. It sort of reminded me of one of my favorite recent books: My Sister’s Grave by Robert Dugoni, although that was legal-focused and this one is all about forensics.
In terms of structure, you must know that yes, there are plenty of flashbacks and different points of view, although none of them felt unnecessary. It was well-done and everything served a purpose. The prologue and the following chapter were the perfect way to grab your attention and leave you wanting for more. Two girls disappear one night, but only one of them returns. What did exactly happen? And where is the other girl?
Let’s be honest here: I didn’t guess the ending! There were several red-herrings that had me completely distracted. I remember thinking it couldn’t be someone in particular because it looked way too obvious and the book was too smart for that. I loved how the author threw some clues and made us wonder all the way through. I was suspicious of everyone and couldn’t wait to get to the conclusion, which didn’t disappoint me one bit.
As for the characters, I absolutely loved Megan and Livia and quite enjoyed the parts when they worked together. I know I won’t forget them easily. Nicole Cutty wasn’t the easiest character to like, but the way the media reacted to her disappearance in comparison to Megan’s return was devastating and I felt really sorry for her.
Last, but not least, I won’t mention the topic because of spoilers, but I will say that the main idea of this book had me completely fascinated. It was utterly creepy and perverse and it made me think of Gillian Flynn’s novels.
Whatever you do, don’t miss The Girl Who Was Taken.
Netgalley, Kensington, 2017