Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Review: Stolen by Lucy Christopher

Found via: Publisher's Weekly 4/12

I think I'm just a contrarian, whether I mean to be or not. It's been a few weeks since I read this and didn't make any notes on it, so now I'm looking at the original Publisher's Weekly review (it's starred even!) that made me get this book, and I an't figure out what drew me to it in the first place, since I found it to be a rather underwhelming read.

StolenGemma isn't happy with her parents - but that doesn't mean she ever wanted to be drugged and kidnapped from the Bangkok airport in the middle of a trip with her parents and whisked away to the Australian outback by a guy who's been stalking her for 6 years.

Ty first saw Gemma in the park in London when she was ten years old, and has spent his life since then preparing to bring her to the beautiful outback. He's convinced her parents don't actually love her, certainly not the way he loves her, and he's sure she'll come to love the wild outback the same way he has.

Lucy recounts her life in captivity in a diary or letter addressed to Ty, detailing her frustrations, anxieties, and even the occasional moment of exhilaration so far from civilization, even as she desperately want to return home.

While the story itself is solid, I felt the pacing was way off throughout the story, as Gemma's captivity only lasts a couple of months, and we never see the complications in Gemma's emotions that she claims to feel at the end. She's diagnosed with Stockholm syndrome, but while she's in captivity Gemma feels no ambivalence, let alone affection, for Ty. Not to mention her escape from captivity feels like a big deus ex machina, coming out of nowhere even after she and Ty have negotiated terms for bringing her back to civilization. I would much rather have followed the story for six months, which would have allowed Gemma more time with her captor with the promise of release and thus more opportunities for complicated emotions to arise.

Ty was a creepy yet oddly sanitized villain and I never felt I really understood his motivations for kidnapping Gemma in the first place. I say sanitized because let's face it, how many real life kidnappings of teenage girls lack physical or sexual violence. Ty maintains he's a gentleman (despite taking a girl against her will) and even shows embarrassment when he has to see Gemma in a state of undress (she messes herself up a couple of times, requiring changes of clothes or even nudity in order to heal from things like extreme sunburn and dehydration).

There are a few brilliant moments of writing. Gemma's interactions with the camel Ty captures and tries to domesticate are heartbreaking, as she confides in the camel how they're both captives and Ty will try to break both of them. It's an absolutely tragic and apt parallel.


Anonymous said...

I just finished reading this book and it was fantastic. This is exactly the type of book I like to read and enjoyed it from start to finish! I was shocked at first at the some of the things described in the book (thinking they were a little extreme for a young adult book) but I know know that this book wouldn't be the same without them. After all, the only way to describe a harsh land is to use harsh words!

I had mixed emotions when it came to Ty. I wanted to hate him, but like Gemma, I couldn't help but almost like him in the end.

All in all this was an amazingly fantastic book. My friends can't wait to read it and I can't wait to read more from Lucy Christopher, and obviously extremely talented author!

Liz B said...

Ty is a sociopath.

A cute sociopath, but a sociopath none the less.

I think Stockholm Syndrome is a red herring; this is brainwashing, no different from Patty Hearst & SLA, or Manson & has family.

The girls all thought Charlie was very cute....

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