Monday, July 25, 2011

The Taker by J.M. Steele

Title: The Taker
Author: J.M. Steele
Publisher: Hyperion
Release Date: September 1, 2006
Date Read: July 12, 2011
Rating: 3/5 stars 

Carly Biel's future is right on track: she's a great student (mostly A's and B's); her boyfriend, Brad, is captain of the lacrosse team; and she's a shoe-in for Princeton (her dad's an alum - love that legacy status!).  She's never been great at standardized tests (so nerve-racking!), but she always figured she'd do well enough on the SAT to get by. Guess what? She tanks. Really tanks. Now she only has one more opportunity to take the test, and she's sure she can't pull her scores up by much. That's why, when she gets a mysterious note from "The Taker," she can't resist. Now she's hired someone to take the test for her - but what if she gets caught?  And what if she doesn't?

This debut novel from J.M. Steele will have every test-taker chewing their pencils
SATs. I know absolutely nothing about them. In Canada to apply for university you just submit your senior grades each term. Apparently in the US there's fancy essay writing and tests? Eek! As soon as I heard The Taker was about SATs I jumped at the chance to delve into the magical world of American standardized testing. The scenario? Very cute and probable. The execution? Less than likable, but the ending chapters left me with a warm fuzzyish feeling so 3 stars!

If I could've made some small adjustments to The Taker my biggest change would have been humour. I love to laugh! The whole scenario of cheating on your SATs is actually quite cute and funny rather than melodramatic. I think the plot would be a little less slow and boring if there'd been more joking and bantering, or even awkward moments and escapades between Carly and Ronald. It seemed too serious and angsty rather than fun and flirty and I think a younger audience could have understood the novel better that way.

Lately a lot of the YA books I've read seem like Disney Channel Original Movie scripts. Popular protagonist, always a shy male love interest, quirky supporting friends and characters, some sort of jock boyfriend. While the plot is interchangeable you can always see through to the "copy-paste" skeleton of the novel. While there were some differences in The Taker I found it too much like Lizzie McGuire for it to be truly original.

Recommended: Hacking Harvard (Robin Wasserman), A Novel Idea (Aimee Friedman)


  1. It's been a long while since I've read The Taker! Quick, nice read that definitely had me stressed for Carly. I'm glad I never had to take the SAT's too!! :)

  2. "the magical world of American standardized testing" LOL! Sadly my memory of it is not very magical :P I'm disappointed to hear the humor wasn't really there enough. You're right, the premise is a perfect platform for humor.


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