Thursday, October 14, 2010

Despite Brave, Blind Heroine, Abduction Novel Dwindles Into Same Ole, Same Ole

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

When 16-year-old Chelsea Wilder stumbles along to a doctor's appointment with her stepmom, she expects only one thing: relief. Feverish from the pneumonia that's making her miserable, she can't wait to get some strong medicine and collapse back into bed. In the meantime, she's huddled in the backseat of her family's new Escalade trying to sleep while her stepmom fills her prescription at a nearby pharmacy. It's supposed to be a quick stop. Then, home to bed. Only the person who climbs into the driver's seat is a stranger. And his destination is definitely not her house.

Chelsea can't see her abductor, but she can hear the hesitation in his voice, smell his anxiety, and sense his panic. Legally blind since the car accident that killed her mother, Chelsea's been training herself to pick up non-verbal clues from everything around her. The vibe she gets from the car thief is that he's young, scared and just as flummoxed by the situation as she is. Still, Chelsea knows she can't rely on the hesitant promises of a thief. Will he really let her go as soon as he strips the car? She's not going to wait around and find out. She may be blind, sick and terrified, but, she's not helpless. Not yet.

As the situation worsens - she's trapped in an isolated house in the woods, her temperature's spiking, and her kidnappers are asking her wealthy father for a ransom - Chelsea tries to coax her captor into freeing her. Griffin's only a pawn in his dad's greedy games, after all. He still has a heart, which means she should be able to wrangle herself into it. But helping Chelsea would mean betraying his family, risking prison, and losing out on a whole lot of cold, hard cash. Can Chelsea convince him to help her or will he leave her to his cohorts, all of whom are nastier than even Griffin can imagine?

Despite the blindness angle, Girl, Stolen, a new novel by April Henry is a pretty typical abduction story. It unfolds with the usual bumbling criminals making a mess of things while a resourceful victim figures out how to save herself with the help of a sympathetic captor. That may be spoilerish, but it's also pretty obvious from the get-go. The book just doesn't hold a lot of surprises, which is unfortunate because the idea of a sightless teenage girl getting herself out of such an impossible situation is definitely a fresh one. Despite that initial promise, though, Girl, Stolen, dwindles into just one more book that intrigued me with its premise, but lost me with poor execution. I really wanted Henry to surprise me, to thrill me, if not with a twisty plot than with well-rounded characters or enticing prose - unfortunately, none of that happens here. The book had enough of a hook to keep me reading, just not enough to make me think anything more than, Meh.

(Readalikes: Stolen by Lucy Christopher)

Grade: C

If this were a movie, it would be rated: PG-13 for mild language (no F-bombs), intense situations, and sexual innuendo

To the FTC, with love: Another library fine find

1 comment:

  1. I'm really looking forward to this one - I've heard that Stolen is similar from several people and that it's more well done than Girl, Stolen.

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