Book Review: Take Me There by Carolee Dean

Take Me There is a contemporary YA novel by Carloee Dean. It was published by Simon Pulse US on 20th July 2010 and the book is 336 pages long.

With his bad boy/ criminal past, Dylan knows that Jess is far too good for him. She’s from a better family, has more money and should definitely not be anywhere near him. However, Dylan and Jess are thrown together in unexpected circumstances and he realises that she isn’t the stuck up rich girl that everyone thinks she is. Jess can also see that there is much more to Dylan than meets the eye and that he might not be a bad boy after all.

As much as Dylan wants to be a better person and get on the straight and narrow, trouble seems to follow him wherever he goes. After a deadly mistake, he and best friend Wade are on the run across the country but Dylan has more planned than just getting away. He wants to meet his criminal father. He wants answers to account for the way he is. Time is running out though and Dylan has one hell of a shock in store for him.

What I thought
They say don’t judge a book by its cover and with this one, that is definitely the case. With the image of a young couple laying in the middle of an empty road, it gives the impressed that this is just another teen romance book. That couldn’t be any further from what this book actually is. The cover, for me, is really quite weak compared to the amazing story that is inside the book and I wish that something else had been used. Take Me There, while looking like a romance, doesn’t actually have much of that at all. Dylan’s relationship with Jess is short lived as he has to go on the run without saying a word to anyone. I would have liked for the romance to have a bit more passion and a bit more of a build up to make it seem more important to the story but what was there, was lovely and sweet.

What I didn’t expect of this book was for it to be so exciting. There are many plot twists and just when you think you know what is going to happen next, everything changes and something completely unexpected happens. As the story switches between Dylan being on the run and the lead up to how he got into that situation, and with the two parts finally coming together, Take Me There is extremely fast paced which only adds to the excitement. This book really does have it all, cross country chases, gangs, murder and fights a plenty but there is also so much more to it than all of this.

Very early on in the book, it is clear that Dylan doesn’t know how to read or write very well. This is a long running theme in the book which goes all the way to the end. Having a criminal for a father, Dylan has never thought very much of himself and easily gets into trouble. He doesn’t put it down to the fact that he cannot read. As the story unfolds, Dylan realises that in order to make his life better and to get out of being one of the ‘bad guys’, he has to change something. Going to see his father in prison is the first step to doing this. Dylan wants answers but when he finally gets there, he doesn’t get the answers he expected and this shocks him. What I loved about this book was the fact that it showcases what problems in life people can have if they can’t read or write and how things could go terribly wrong for them. Yes, it does do it to an extreme but sometimes, that is exactly what is needed. Dylan does write (or try) to write poetry though and this was a lovely side to see of him. Poetry wouldn’t be looked upon well with his friends so it is all a big secret but I was glad to be able to see the things that he created, even if he felt like he couldn’t get his words across well enough.

Being such a bad boy, Dylan was a character that shouldn’t have been so likable, but he was. I think the fact that he knew he had done wrong in the past and had paid for his mistakes was one of the biggest factors for me liking him. He knows he needs to do better for himself in order to stay out of prison and knows that he can’t get involved with other people who will get him into trouble. Unfortunately, things aren’t that easy if you have already been in juvie and Dylan has to really work hard to keep his nose clean. He has a great work ethic and knows what he wants out of life now. Jess, the love interest, has something to do with this as well. Dylan knows that to get and keep a girl like her, he has to be better than what he is now so changing has a big incentive.

This book has an ending that I would have never seen coming in so many ways. Not just the ending for Dylan but also other characters who have a big impact on his life. While it isn’t a sad ending, it isn’t exactly happy either but it was well justified and I can see why the author chose to go in the way she did. The ending really sets an example for other people and to really show what can happen if you don’t make the most of your life. Take Me There is one of the most emotional, tense and gripping books I have read in a long time. A must read!

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