The Taken (Celestial Blues, Book 1)
HarperCollins Voyager (CA: 4th June 2012; US: 12th June 2012; UK: 11th October 2012; AU: 15th September 2012)
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I really like the first three books in the Signs of the Zodiac series (the next two are on my shelf; I’ve yet to acquire the last), so I was looking forward to Vicki Pettersson’s new Celestial Blues series.
But The Taken‘s plot is nothing new: Powerful and/or wealthy men run a prostitution ring involving underage girls. Someone investigating it is murdered. The new element is a Mormon leader is a head honcho, auctioning off the virginity of girls in his Church, including his own daughters.
Organised religion. If it’s not in an “inspirational” novel, it’s usually portrayed as bad. These authors should take a page from South Park: In that episode, yes, the origins of the religion are mocked, but the Mormon family and their values are really nice and non-corrupt. So why the evil Mormon in The Taken? Yes, the guy needs a way to access to a lot of virgins, but why specify him as Mormon? He seems to not respect women, yet he’s married a bunch of them. Polygamy may be illegal in some places, but it’s not evil – not when everyone in question consents to the marriages.
I’m not religious or spiritual, but it made me uncomfortable to read. Like the whole religion is being judged as evil, instead of just this one character. That doesn’t seem fair.
But I can be totally critical, too, and I am when it comes to the rockabilly “lifestyle” as portrayed in the novel. (The real deal may be entirely different, so I’m judging only the story’s version.) Kit Craig claims it’s not superficial, but when explaining what it’s about proves that it does indeed sound shallow: Clothes, cosmetics, hairdos, tattoos, cigarettes, hot rods, and pinups.
Griffin Shaw, who actually lived in the 1950s, is suitably sceptical of the lifestyle. The ’50s were like any other period – such as now – with war, corruption, street-hooking, and murder. There’s a scene in a tiki bar (I still don’t know what “tiki” means), in which there’s something about the billies being afraid of death, so they choose to live like it’s the past, but I don’t quite follow.
Kit’s logic differs to mine on other matters, too. I’m not a fan.
I’m fine with Grif, but I don’t get all the stuff about the Everlast and angels. I often struggle with the supernatural (my logic), though; it simply requires too much suspension of disbelief, and I don’t have that patience.
But the setting of Las Vegas is fabulous as always. Vicki Pettersson writes it so well that even someone like me who’s never been there can learn to love it. But the rest of the book just didn’t grab me. I’ll be giving Book 2, The Lost, a fair go, but what I really want to read is the rest of the Zodiac novels.