Friday, October 8, 2010

Book Review: Take Me There by Carolee Dean


Sometimes sexy, sometimes sad, and always intense, Take Me There is a dark and surprising novel about a boy on the run who's headed nowhere fast.

Dylan has a bad-boy past and a criminal record. He knows that rich, beautiful Jess is way too good for him—but she has always been the one person who sees through his tough exterior and straight to his heart, and he has been hopelessly in love with her from the first time they met. He would change his life for a chance with her.

But trouble follows Dylan wherever he goes, and a deadly mistake soon forces him to hit the road and leave his dreams behind. He’s on the run and in search of answers—answers to questions he wishes he’d never asked.


The Short Version:
Thought provoking and heartrending, Take Me There hits on some raw elements not always seen in YA and handles it effortlessly. Dylan is a mess of his own making, now trying to get back on the straight and narrow but hitting endless snags beyond his control. Weighed down by his best and only friend Wade, and suddenly on the run from not only the police but a gang, Dylan finds himself back in Texas where his grandmother lives—and the same state where his father is imprisoned. Hitting into family issues, friend issues, and just trying to find his own in the world, this book will really challenge the reader’s way of thinking and leave them with innumerable feelings by the end.

The Extended Version:
Dylan is flawed in so many ways, but at his core, he truly is a good kid despite the juvie record and his past. His relationship with his mother isn’t great, and his father is in a Texas state prison. He loves his mom, but it’s already clear he is more or less drifting on his own. He strives to better himself, and his struggle is so gutting and real. His emotions are strong and his actions bold. As he learns more about the events leading up to the night his father was arrested, the reader gets both a better look at Dylan’s character and his family.

Wade is a loser, so to speak, going nowhere fast and dragging Dylan under with him. Their kinship is strong and realistic, but this is certainly a case where maybe they are better off apart. Wade is on the slow side, and Wade makes countless mistakes, but every time, Dylan is by his side. Even when they are at each other’s throats, these two have a bond stronger than most blood brothers. Wade’s own character develops in surprising ways, and his final closing part of the story is interesting.

Jessica is a fantastic romantic interest for Dylan, and in her own way, drives part of the story. She is impulsive but thoughtful, rich but not conceited. There is an immediate spark between her and Dylan, and the romance side of the book was handled perfectly, especially in a male perspective. She saw straight through to inside of Dylan, and didn’t shy away at his history. Even when he was on the run, Jess was fierce in her emotions for him.

The rest of the cast is well developed and ranges from cranky and ornery to good people to flat out jerks. The setting in small town Texas is fantastically well done, holding football on the pedestal that is often true in these towns, along with a certain closed mindset towards outsiders. Add in who Dylan’s father is, and he receives friction from the start. Despite having people around him, there is a certain amount of aloneness that accompanies Dylan that really pulls the reader towards him even more.

There is a large character development aspect to this book, but the events moved steadily with plenty of mystery and intrigue. From the truth about his father’s incarceration to the impending execution, and everything else with Dylan’s life and friends, there is always something to keep the pages turning. Dylan dives into finding the truth in things he maybe shouldn't have, forced to face the repercussions of his actions. Dean’s writing is fantastic, giving a distinct voice to Dylan, going even further to differentiate between his stressed, running rampant thoughts and his more normal stream of consciousness and thought processes.

Overall, Take Me There is stunningly well written with a strong male voice. It centers around events not often brought up in YA and has several very gutting messages. My emotions were twisted and shredded by the end of this book, but in the end, it was absolutely worth it.

Source: Received from author for review
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Simon Pulse; Original edition (July 20, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1416989501
ISBN-13: 978-1416989509


  1. I really need to get this book. Nice Review :)

    Books with Bite

  2. You make me want to read everything you review. Sigh.

    I always see this book and think of you! I have to buy it soon-fantastic review, my friend. :)

  3. My emotions ran higher and wilder with this book than anything I can remember reading in a long, LONG time. I can't even put it into words. It's an extremely powerful book, VERY well written, raw, real and just great, but I don't think I could ever read it again. I have a tender heart. LOL

  4. I hadn't heard about this book but it sounds very good. I don't read a lot of YA but I think I'll be reading this one. Also, don't know why but I like that cover.

  5. great review, you've definitely made me want to pick this up!

  6. This book was such an unexpected surprise. I actually bought it based on the cover and it proves don't judge a book by it's cover. I thought it would be a fluffy easy fun read and it was so so much more. I couldn't peel my eyes from the pages and had me tearing up several times. A great book, a great review.

  7. I own this one but have yet to read it. Bumping it up on my list for sure. :D

  8. Mmmm, I love bad boys :P And wow, that cover is hot.

  9. I have this one on order at the library and I'm really looking forward to reading it. I'm so glad that you loved it - I'm really excited about it.

  10. i absolutely LOVE the cover of this...but i have never been sure about the book itself..

    great review! I may check it out now :D