Sunday, June 20, 2010

Stolen Captures Me and Refuses to Let Go

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

You can hardly open a YA book these days without encountering some kind of monster. You've got your blood-sucking vampires, your slavering werewolves, your flesh-eating zombies, your mindless, murderous demons - even Tinkerbell's kin have been depicted as evil, child-stealing ogres. Still, no matter how nasty these fantastical beasts may be, they can never compare to monsters of the real, live, human variety. The kind we meet every day. The kind who are so open, honest and trustworthy that we don't notice the flash of their "fangs" until it's much, much too late.

In Stolen, a stunning debut from newcomer Lucy Christopher, 16-year-old Gemma Toombs meets this exact kind of devil in the Bangkok airport. The man seems so familiar that she allows him to prepare her a coffee - which he promptly drugs. When she finally wakes up, Gemma's a long way from Bangkok. A long way from anything, in fact. Isolated on a compound somewhere in the Australian Outback, Gemma's surrounded by nothing but desert. Her captor, the disturbingly gentle Ty, doesn't even bother tying her up. He knows she can't escape. There's nothing around for miles and miles, nowhere at all for Gemma to go.

As the weeks stretch on, Gemma comes to understand the wilderness and her sole companion in ways she never thought possible. Still, there's so much she doesn't know: Why has Ty chosen her, of all people, to kidnap? What does he really want from her? How does he know her family's secrets, the truths Gemma can't even admit to herself? And why is she suddenly feeling so much empathy for the man who has stolen her away from everything she knows? Can she escape? Does she even want to?

Written in the form of a letter from Gemma to Ty, Stolen grabs the reader right off the bat and just doesn't let go. It's not the frenzied, action-packed, race-against-time story I thought it would be, but more of a quietly sinister psychological thriller. The unique setting only adds to the tension, its terrible beauty coming alive in Christopher's skilled hands (the author was born in Wales, but raised in Australia). Not every detail of the plot rang true for me, but all in all, the story held me captive. I tore through it in one day, hardly daring to breathe until I knew exactly what happened to Gemma and Ty. Even then, Stolen wouldn't quite let me go - I'm still turning it all over in my head. I know one thing for sure, though: I want to read more Lucy Christopher. And soon.

(Readalikes: I can't think of any. Can you?)

Grade: B+

If this were a movie, it would be rated: PG-13 for language and tense, mature situations

To the FTC, with love: I received an ARC of Stolen from the generous folks at Scholastic. Thank you!

8 comments:

  1. Sounds intriguing. I haven’t read it, but the idea of a letter to her captor reminds me of a book I read years and years ago about a girl who was kidnapped off the street and stuck in a cellar. She had a typewriter and a bunch of paper and wrote letters to her captor, to her ex-best friends, an essay for English, etc. That one did not end happily, but/and it still haunts me.

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  2. Oh, wow, this one sounds really frightening. Such an unusual setting too. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Susan.

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  3. This book seems so interesting and creepy. There's another kidnapping book out there called Living Dead Girl that I've been curious about.

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  4. Definitely a deviation from the fantastical creature rage that's sweeping YA novels of late! Thanks for the post, I'll have to grab a copy to read for sure. Have a great week! :)

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  5. Wow, this sounds scary and good and very much something to read when I need a break from all that paranormal monster stuff.

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  6. Robin - That plotline sounds really familiar. What's the name of the book?

    Kay - Yes, the setting's one of the most interesting thing about the book.

    Alison - I've heard of that one, but haven't read it. I'll have to check it out and see how it compares to this one.

    Samantha - Vampires and werewolves and such don't scare me - it's the human monsters that terrify me.

    Melissa - I really liked it. If you read it, LMK what you think.

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  7. Robin - That plotline sounds really familiar. What's the name of the book?

    Kay - Yes, the setting's one of the most interesting thing about the book.

    Alison - I've heard of that one, but haven't read it. I'll have to check it out and see how it compares to this one.

    Samantha - Vampires and werewolves and such don't scare me - it's the human monsters that terrify me.

    Melissa - I really liked it. If you read it, LMK what you think.

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  8. It kind of numbed my mind. I don't think I will forget this book for a long time to come.


    Here is my review of Stolen by Lucy Christopher.

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