bookrev: The Takers by R.W. Ridley

5 stars: Fast-paced ride in a new YA Horror series; winner of the 2006 IPPY for Horror

We killed the retarded boy. He took his own life, but we killed him just the same.

The TakersThus begins The Takers, the first book in R.W. Ridley’s YA Horror series The Oz Chronicles. This debut novel (published in 2005) is well paced, with a great quest/adventure and and several likable characters, including the main protagonist, Osmond (Oz) Griffin. The second in the series, Delon City, is now published and is definitely on my reading list.

Thirteen-year old Oz awakens from a fever induced slumber to find his world dramatically changed, his parents and most of the other people on his block “taken” and seemingly eaten by nightmarish monsters who appear and attack when their name is spoken. His quest begins when he is given responsibility for a baby named Nate, whose mother is taken, so he piles up his wagon, takes a sword from Nate’s father’s study, and proceeds to the big city. Here, the mystery of the Takers (who are they, where did they come from) begins to unfold, as Oz and his growing army of misfit survivors (including a sign-language speaking gorilla named Ajax who understands more about what is happening with the Takers than he can say) do battle with several of the monsters. A comic book written by the afore mentioned “retarded boy” holds the key to the mysteries and the quest involving Oz, baby Nate and the Takers.

I read The Takers straight through as the action and the quest continue unabated through the book. The ending comes quickly, but sets up the second in the series nicely, leaving some questions to be answered but solving many of the puzzles.

Horror and YA (with the notable exceptions of Potter and Eragon) are usually not my genres of choice, but I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and highly recommend it to fans of both genres.

As a side note, I will add R.W. Ridley to my growing list of authors that prove small independent presses and self-publishing produce excellent works of fiction.

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