Saturday Read: Stolen, by Lucy Christopher

“Stolen” was definitely one of the most unique books I have ever read. When I read the synopsis, I knew I would like it: A girl is kidnapped and brought to the Australian outback and struggles with her feelings about her captor. I mean, I’m a nerdy psychology major and this one has STOCKHOLM SYNDROME written all over it. And it’s YA! Okay, I know it may seem like I just totally gave the plot away, but trust me, “Stolen” is so deep and cannot be summed up in a few sentences.

“Stolen” is written as a letter from Gemma to her captor, Ty. From the beginning, this approach put me at ease because it meant that Gemma eventually escaped captivity and was reunited with her family. I’m a sucker for happy endings and would rather not even read a book if the main character is going to die, especially after being kidnapped. Kidnapping is really one of my biggest fears (yes, I watch too many horror stories on the news) and a story about it makes me really uncomfortable, so I’m actually proud of myself for following through with this one, and happy that I did, too!

Gemma is a 16-year-old British girl on vacation with her parents when she meets Ty in the airport coffee shop. He seems very sweet, despite the fact that he is older and Gemma finds him strangely familiar and “safe.” She is flattered when he offers to pay for her coffee, but he also drugs it and sweeps her off to the Australian outback. Gemma awakens in a strange bed and an even stranger setting: desert and little vegetation for as far as she can see. It’s impossible to escape – she would die before she reached civilization. She has been stolen from her parents, from her life in London and brought to live with Ty. And then he tells her that she will be staying “forever.”

I think the most amazing thing about “Stolen” was how the reader begins to sympathize with Ty. Lucy Christopher slowly begins revealing his dark past to Gemma and the readers and, bit by bit, his actions begin to make sense. Every time I put it down, I had to remind myself that I was feeling sorry for a kidnapper! I think a book that can make you identify with the obvious villain is extremely rare, perhaps miraculous. And Gemma herself is not a typical heroine; she’s imperfect and you also slowly learn about her petty life before being stolen. Christopher really evened the playing field between the two characters and brought them to a place where they actually understood each other, even though one was the criminal and one was the victim. Another really neat experience from “Stolen”: at some points I found myself wanting Gemma to stay with Ty, even though I knew she should escape, mimicking Gemma’s exact feelings from the novel.

I’m not going to give away anymore about the plot! But, I will say that “Stolen” was a grade-A debut. Thrilling, exciting and also heart-wrenching, Christopher tackled a tough subject and came out victorious. I found myself losing hours reading this one and thoroughly enjoyed the characters. I’m always looking for something different and “Stolen” definitely fit that category. A great YA read for any age!

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