Taken by Benedict Jacka


BJackaTaken Through plot twists and turns, Benedict Jacka takes us on another enthralling adventure in his third installment of the Alex Verus novels. The most suspenseful to date, Taken strikes at the heart with an investigation that makes us question what lengths we would go to in order to project our charges.

This time last year, I could go weeks without seeing another mage. In mage society I was an unknown and, all in all, that was how I liked it. It’s hard to say what changed. Whatever it was, I got involved in the magical world again and started getting myself a reputation.

Alex Verus’s insights into the future used to be the best-kept secret in London. Now, with the aid of his apprentice, Luna, his unique investigative talents are all the rage. He just has to be careful about picking his employers, because everyone—even the beautiful woman who practically begs him to run security for a prestigious tournament—has motives that can be hard to predict. And Alex doesn’t do unpredictable.

But his latest gig just might be impossible. Apprentices have been vanishing without a trace—and someone on the Council could be involved. Alex has no evidence, no witnesses, and no suspects. All he knows is that someone is keeping tabs on him. And after assassins target Luna’s classmate, Alex sees that he doesn’t know the half of it—and that he could be the next to disappear.

For me, Jacka took a couple of steps backwards in terms of his writing style and overall storytelling. I felt that he had reached a beautiful balance of recap in Cursed yet in Taken he went a bit overboard, describing each character and aspect of the world in overwrought detail. Fans of the series may find themselves reading over these lengthy passages. The upside to this is that anyone would be able to pick up Taken and jump right into the storyline.

There is a considerable evolution of characters in Taken. Alex Verus, charming and witty divination mage becomes a worried yet annoyed mentor. I personally wasn’t so keen on this change. It was as if Jacka did not go far enough to develop an evolution of Alex and was merely experimenting with Alex’s emotions given new circumstances. I truly enjoyed Alex as a character in the first two installments and I sincerely hope that Jacka stays true to the character in upcoming novels.

As with many investigation stories, there were several new characters to enjoy. My favorite of these was Jagadev, a rakshasa or humanoid tiger originating in India. Though a minor character, I found Jagadev to be mysterious yet serve his purpose as a character. He is initially presented as a master of two apprentices however, he blatantly shows his reluctance to this position, preferring the comfort of his own domain. Not only was this character essential to the storyline, he was downright cool.

To be frank, I don’t like the plot of Taken. Don’t get me wrong, I love Benedict Jacka’s writing style and I am a big fan of the Alex Verus Novels. That being said, I found Taken to have too much of a juvenile setting and felt more like Harry Potter or any other urban fantasy young adult novel. Not only did I not like the school-like plot but I felt as if it was completely unnecessary and somewhat condescending. Each character who is an apprentice in Taken is in their late teens or early twenties, with all of the major ones being over twenty. Despite this, the apprentices at a whole have a middle school dynamic in more ways than one. Not only were the relationships between the characters diluted and innocent, but the characters had no independent thought, relying on their masters for everything. The only mention of this behavior being strange is a remark made my Alex towards the end of the book when he yells at an apprentice telling him he is an adult, so he should act like it. I found myself nearly yelling at Alex wanting to tell him ‘ You didn’t notice this the rest of the book? You choose now to finally get fed up with it? I was annoyed with their juvenile ways back in Chapter 1!’ Needless to say it would have been absolutely useless to yell at a fictional character, but it irritated me enough that the book lost most of its charm.

Jacka still managed to pull me back into the story despite my grievances with his plot choice. Alex’s past is wonderfully expanded upon just enough to make the reader want more and his brand of investigation is once again masterfully executed. Jacka’s knack for creating expansive settings shines when he describes the point of interest; a countryside mansion. Though I didn’t enjoy Taken as much as I would’ve liked, I found it to be the most suspenseful Alex Verus Novel to date and entertaining to the last page.

Order for the Alex Verus series
Chosen (Aug 27, 2013)

About Natassia 143 Articles
I am a performer by trade and have been an avid reader for as long as I can remember. My bookshelves are full of many genres but I have a love of fantasy, SciFi and steampunk which have only spurred my performing dreams to help one of these fabulous worlds come to life. I tend to read books with a lot of edge and grit; if it's got zombies, space battles or fantastical steam inventions, I'm in. When I'm not reading or off making my own adventures, I can be caught watching movies of every era, gaming, and being scandalously political like any good steampunk heroine.