Thursday, June 23, 2011


I have some seriously mixed feelings about "Stolen," by Lucy Christopher. And I don't mean that in the way I normally do--I don't mean that I don't know whether I liked it or not. Because I definitely did, 100 percent. But this book messed with my emotions so badly I felt like I didn't know which way was up by the time I finished it. But before I get into it, here's the summary from the back of the book:
You saw me before I saw you.
A girl: Gemma, at the airport, on her way to a family vacation.

You had that look in your eyes.
A guy: Ty, rugged, tan, too old, oddly familiar, eyes blue as ice.

Like you wanted me.
She steps away. For just a second. He pays for her drink. And drugs it.

Wanted me for a long time.
He takes her, before she even knows what's happening. To sand and heat. To emptiness and isolation. To nowhere. And expects her to love him

Written as a letter from a victim to her captor, this is Gemma's desperate story of survival. Ty has stolen her body. Against every instinct screaming inside her, will he also steal Gemma's heart?
Okay, here's what made me so conflicted about the book: Ty. He's the bad guy, right? I mean, it should be simple--he should be easy to hate. But he isn't. He really, really isn't. Yes, he kidnaps Gemma; yes, he won't let her leave; yes, he's not exactly mentally stable. But he also is kind to Gemma; he loves nature in a way that's inspiring; he's physically attractive. It was so easy to get caught up in the good things about Ty and forget the bad. I seriously had to stop myself sometimes as I was reading and remind myself that Ty was the bad guy. But these crazy, mixed-up feelings I had towards Ty made me relate to Gemma so much more--because I found myself conflicted about Ty, I could sympathize with Gemma's confusion.

But there was more than just my conflicted feelings about Ty to hold my interest. This book was fascinating on two fronts. First, it was engrossing to see Gemma deal with her horrible situation--reading about her confusion, her anger, her fear, and all the other million emotions she feels towards her captivity and towards Ty. Props to the author for writing Gemma's emotions in such a vivid way that I--for better or worse--felt like I was there with her the whole time. Second, the setting of the novel was fascinating. It takes place in the Australian desert, a place I basically know nothing about (who knew there are camels there?!?). At first it seemed like possibly one of the most miserable places on earth. But, like Gemma, as I progressed through the book I gradually came to see it's stark and terrible beauty.

And the writing in this book is so beautiful. I think this is the first book I've read written in the second person. All those "yous" were a little distracting at first, but I quickly got into the writing style. Here's a sample (at this point Gemma's been captive for about a month):
I could feel the heat against my back, sticking my T-shirt to my spine. I blinked to stop the colors from blurring. Black lines and shapes danced before my eyes like the edges of flames. Then the sun moved farther down. Its light reached toward your painted body, turning you golden . . . making you shine. The sand grains on your arms glistened. I could feel the sun on my skin, too, turning it a peachy orange, making it soft. The whole room bathed in light.

You watched me, your blue eyes floating in the gold. I noticed the black markings on your left cheek, tiny animal tracks making their way toward your hair, walking right over your scar. You reached out and touched the skin on my arm, your sandy fingers brushing against me. It was where the sun was hitting me, where my skin was warmest. You pressed the tips of your fingers against it.

"The light's coming from within you, too," you said. "You're glowing."
As I got further and further into the book, I became more and more worried about how it was going to end. Everything about the book had been so wonderfully complex, and I was nervous that the ending would be too simplistic or hurried. But it wasn't. I won't ruin it for you, but I will tell you that I think it's perfect.

I definitely recommend this book. I read it after a string of fluffier books, and its weight and complexity were exactly what I needed. But it is a heavier book, so if you're not in the mood for something serious, hold off until you are. It'll be so worth it.

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