Wow… despite reviewing many great books this year, I think Child Taken might just be my personal favourite of 2017! There are two reasons for this revelation. Firstly, the story is just amazing, with a reveal that you really have no inkling of until it is exposed (no easy feat for a writer these days, I imagine) Secondly, the more I thought about this book after I had finished it, the more I realised that Child Taken could be a model for how to write the perfect book! This book is so perfectly weaved, in terms of subject and structure, that you secretly wish you had written it yourself!
How could such a thing happen?
But it did happen.
I wasn’t one of the others, observing.
It happened to me.
One hot summer’s day, two-year-old Jessica Preston disappears from the beach. The police are convinced she drowned, but Sandra Preston won’t give up hope that her daughter is still alive.
How can she?
Twenty years later, another child goes missing, and Sandra is approached by a young journalist who raises questions about what really happened to Jessica Preston all those years ago. But when the journalist discovers someone with an explosive secret, it threatens not only to reveal what’s been covered up for so long, but puts both their lives in danger.
This book has a different feel to the way it is written and managed, then the usual thriller genre book. There are several chapters where we are taken back to the day Jessica went missing, and subsequently the many years after her disappearance. Some of these chapters are from the viewpoint of Jessica’s mother, Sandra, whilst the others are from the people who found Jessica. These scenes are sharp and crisp, adding the necessary background throughout the books progress, but never confusing the readers. Your interest is sustained for just the right amount of time in each chapter and it never feels as though Darren is dragging for effective; in fact, the intensity in each chapter is spot on.
I feel this is a difficult genre to write because many readers expect a twist in the plot, but unfortunately this means such readers are often preoccupied with trying to work out who did it, so to speak, very early on in the book. To me, intentionally scouting the reveal all the way through the book dulls the enjoyment of reading and makes it even harder for the author to try and deliver the plot twist towards the end of the story. Yet in Child Taken, I did not see the twist until the very reveal, and despite it being a huge shock, I still couldn’t quite believe it and ended up trying to make sense of it whilst continuing to look for some other rational explanation. The reader’s involvement with the reveal is immense, one of those oh my god moments…
Child Taken is an enormously enjoyable read, which begins with a nagging doubt and leads to full on suspense. The writing flows naturally and the story is delivered smoothly. Darren has a gift for storytelling and I genuinely hope he carries on writing because, if Child Taken is a glimpse of what is to come, we are looking at a hugely talented and promising new writer.
Child Taken is a must-have read and a perfect book club choice due to its numerous elements of right and wrong. Above all, it is simply a bloody great read!