Wednesday, July 9, 2014


A few weeks ago, I was at the library perusing YA audio books when I came across STOLEN, the debut novel of Lucy Christopher. The premise immediately intrigued me  a 16-year-old girl is abducted from an international airport and taken to live in a wild and foreign land with her unconventional kidnapper. Yeah, I was fascinated before popping out the first disc.

Set in the Great Sandy Desert of the Australian Outback  a harsh and isolating place  the book is told in the form of a letter written by the main character, Gemma, to her captor. I found this to be a fresh and effective format. It allows the reader to live Gemma’s story with her as she analyzes her feelings about the ordeal. Author Lucy Christopher states on her webpage that she wanted to explore Gemma’s feelings of being “simultaneously entranced and repulsed by something.”   

That, in a nutshell, is the allure of this novel.

STOLEN is a difficult story but one that makes you think. First, about the rugged and beautiful land itself, which Christopher describes with the authority of an insider. (There's even a pet camel in it!) And second, about Ty the kidnapper — a troubled and complex character. As I read, there were times when I found myself really liking him — and then I’d think: But wait — he abducted her! It was all very unsettling, which is exactly the point.

It's easy to identify with Gemma’s evolving and often conflicting emotions toward Ty. Though her journey is a tumultuous one, I really appreciated the ambiguous nature of the story. It even inspired an interesting WHYA group discussion about whether Ty could be classified as a decent man who did a really bad thing... or a bad person with a few redeeming qualities. (The jury's still out.) 

Delving into the intricacies of Stockholm Syndrome, the things that connect you to home and childhood, and the power of place, STOLEN is an intriguing novel. It's one of those books that messes with your mind, that I find myself thinking about over and again — which is just the kind of story I love.

If you're familiar with it, let us know your thoughts! What other books have you read where you had mixed feelings about "the bad guy"?  



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3 comments:

P.E. Mari said...

I've seen Stolen at my library a billion times and I've even checked it out a few times but somehow, I've never actually read it. I should remedy that. I think in Shadow and Bone, the Darkling is evil, but still enticing. That's the main mixed feelings towards villain that comes to mind.

-P.E. @ The Sirenic Codex

Ingrid Palmer said...

I've done that with library books too! With summer being so busy, I knew I'd get through the audio versions faster. And I haven't read Shadow and Bone yet, but it is on my list...

Sarah Kellar said...

I've tried to read Stolen, but I can never get into it. I always feel conflicted about the villain in Evil Genius. I know Labyrinth isn't a book, but I feel conflicted about the Goblin King as well.

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