September 2, 2010

Stolen: Review

It's just a fight with her parents, a stop at the coffee shop, and a stranger who offers to pay...but suddenly Gemma's been kidnapped. She's been drugged. She's been taken to the middle of nowhere. And the man who's taken her has wanted her - and watched her - for years. He seems to know her story almost better than she knows it herself. And as the hours turn into days, and the days turn into weeks, he opens up to Gemma - and she finds herself somehow, unbelievably, opening up to him. But how can she possibly have feelings for someone who's torn her away from everything she's ever known? And if she finally has the chance to escape...will she want to?

Stolen wasn't the book I expected. I thought it would be more gripping, more darkly chilling, than I actually found it. It's not the kind of on-the-edge-of-my-seat book that had me flipping pages madly to find out what happened next. But it is a very interesting psychological look at the intricate and twisted relationship between a captive and her abductor.


I never really got fully inside Gemma's head. We don't learn that much about her except for snippets of memories she has and worries about her friends and family. I wish I had seen more of her regular life before she was kidnapped so I might have gotten a better picture of her, but it makes sense that she was focused on the present. She was struggling to survive in captivity - she didn't have too much time to spend reminiscing about her past, because she was too busy hoping she'd escape in the near future. It is certainly admirable the way she manages to hold on mentally, for so long, to the goal of getting away from her kidnapper Ty's clutches. She endures so much, and still manages to keep on living each day and hoping.

Now, on to Ty: He has to be one of the most messed-up characters I've encountered in a long time. At first, of course I thought he was creepy and perverted. And he is! He's had his eye on her for years and years and finally he makes his move, drugging her drink and taking her on a plane to the Australian outback. The weirdest thing about him had to be his incessant obsession, his need, for Gemma. He doesn't rape her, he doesn't want to murder her - but he won't let her go. Ty has this idyllic picture of the two of them living together in harmony in the desert once she gets over the whole 'he kidnapped me' thing. It's so bizarre and delusional.

But then Lucy Christopher actually made me feel kind of sorry for him. He's got a pretty pathetic past, and he is pitiable in some scenes (for instance, when he has a nightmare). Also, he has such reverence for the beauty of nature, and he loves to paint. Yes, he has some hobbies! She made him into a three-dimensional character who became more than just Gemma's kidnapper. And in such a weird way he actually cares about her and doesn't want her to come to harm. Ty saves her more than once - but he's the one who placed her in danger. I don't know how he wraps his head around that exactly, but he must have some major denial going on.

Also, not sure if this will count as a character but I have to say: I really loved that camel. I felt so sorry for it when it gets captured by Ty and it gives in. The analogy of Gemma and the camel was painted really well; Ty captures them, he doesn't mistreat them too badly but he insists that they submit to his will. And in a strange way, he feels affection for both of them. It's clear he's not familiar with the saying, "If you love something, let it go free. If it doesn't come back, you never had it." Ty's been abandoned too often to let himself risk being abandoned once more.


I have to say I was a little skeptical of Gemma's naivete at the very beginning - she lets this totally random stranger pay for her coffee and then sits down to talk with him - but of course, I was fully aware of the book's premise. I suppose it's not that unusual if you really think about it (though Ty is significantly older than her).

This isn't a book I would read for the plot, as it's pretty slow-moving. Most of it consists of the interchanges between Ty and Gemma, with a few significant events throughout. I wasn't glued to the pages, and I took lots of breaks when reading it. The overarching storyline is more about Gemma's mental and emotional response to her kidnapping and the subtle developments in Gemma and Ty's relationship.

There are spoilers here so highlight the white text if you want to read:

The plot does pick up in the last few chapters, when Gemma is bitten by a venomous snake and it becomes a race for her life. I was particularly fascinated by her reactions when she is returned to her parents, and you can tell that she misses Ty. And everyone else is wondering what's wrong with her because she's so mixed up about him. The whole "Stockholm syndrome" aspect of this is very intriguing, and in the end of the letter to Ty it's good to see that Gemma manages to sort things out (at least somewhat) for herself.

Writing Style:

I never felt totally comfortable with the use of the second-person voice (it's combined with first-person in Stolen), but that may be partly because so few books are written like this. A lot of the sentences did begin with either "You" or "I" and some more variety in sentence structure would have been welcome. Still, it was an interesting exercise in telling a story as a letter to a single person, and it's rare to find a book using any second-person narrative, so kudos to the author for trying something new!

Also, Christopher has a way with description and was really able to let the reader experience the atmosphere of the desert. For instance, in this passage:  

"Right at that moment it was as if we were the only two people left in the whole world. And I don't mean that to sound corny; it just honestly did. The only sounds were the droning crickets and chip-chips of the bats, the faraway wind against the sand, and the occasional distant yowl of a dingo. There were no car horns. No trains. No jack-hammers. No lawn mowers. No planes. No sirens. No alarms. No anything human. If you'd told me then that you'd saved me from a nuclear holocaust, I might have believed you."

Sounds beautiful, doesn't it?

I'm having difficulty rating this one because I wasn't really riveted to it, and I wouldn't want to re-read it, but it's a fabulous exploration of a rare relationship. I would recommend it, especially for those interested in psychology or wanting to read a fictional example of something resembling Stockholm syndrome.

Overall: 4 out of 5 shooting stars.


  1. I've got this one to read and it sounds SO good. I must read it soon after your fab review!

  2. Hmmm it sounds very interesting, but slow paces are usually quite off-putting for me. Great review :)

  3. Thanks for the review! I can't wait to read this one, it sounds so unique and so good!

  4. Whoa! what a book! Ty doesn't sound like the hero I would like, but, oh gosh, the plot sounds great! Thanks for the review!


  5. Lovely, lengthy review, Danya! I must say..I was so tempted to read the spoiler.

    I haven't read many second-person narrative books either...perhaps it sounds too condescending or...I don't know, controlling??

    I did read a "Choose Your Own Adventure" in 2nd-person once, and I found that enjoyable, though.

    I'm eager to read Stolen now! It's listed for a couple of awards, and it's an Aussie book, so that makes it more amazing.

    Thanks for the lovely review!

    ●▬▬๑۩Book Couture۩๑▬▬●

  6. I enjoyed this review! I have been wondering what this one was like. Thanks!

  7. Wow! This sounds really interesting! Great review! I love books that delve into the human psyche. I'm going to have to look this one up!

  8. Enjoyed your review, I loved Stolen, didn't find it slow going at all.
    Was nice to see you loved the camel too, not to many people mention the camel LOL.

    PS I love how you did your spoiler, very cool! do you mind sharing how?

  9. I liked your review. Thanks for telling me a little more about this book. :D


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