Stolen is definitely one of the best books that I have ever read – the number of times I had to put it down because I was crying too hard to see the words on the pages can attest to that.
The characters are incredibly real and complex, to the point where you too are experiencing Stockholm Syndrome. The Australian Outback, where much of Stolen takes place, is more than just a setting – it’s beautiful yet dangerous, harsh yet loving, and is truly a character in its own right.
The writing is beautiful and evocative, and will simultaneously break your heart and give you hope. In the end, you’ll find yourself wondering how we can truly judge what is right and wrong, especially when it comes to the actions of others. After all, “it’s hard to hate someone once you understand them.”
From the moment Gemma wakes from her drug-induced stupor, she is on edge, waiting for the moment when Ty snaps and breaks his promise of never hurting her. Her constant mistrust and wariness of her captor worked to create a level of suspense that kept me gripping Stolen’s pages. While Ty worked his hardest to prove that he was harmless, and that he was doing Gemma a favor by rescuing her from negligent parents and the noisy city, there was a certain…manic quality to some of his actions that hinted at a certain instability lurking beneath his mostly calm facade. The slightly frenzied gleam in his eyes, the tightening of his muscles and the increased pitch to his voice whenever Gemma asked him a question that made him uncomfortable worked seamlessly to paint this sometimes simple character with a much sinister brush. His dual characterization, the deranged kidnapper who was obviously harbouring some serious mental health issues versus the gentle artist who wanted nothing more than for Gemma to love him and his land as much as he loved them both, played at my heartstrings and my head; I was constantly changing my opinion of Ty, which constantly changed how I viewed his relationship with Gemma.
Because of my constantly changing opinion of Ty, I was constantly at war with my feelings for Gemma as well. When I was fearful of Ty, I was quick to encourage Gemma’s various attempts at escape. When I sympathized with Ty, especially after he shared a story from his childhood, I was dismayed by Gemma’s reluctance to see that he was trying his hardest to make her happy. Stolen played my emotions like a violin, and I absolutely loved it for it! I could never decide what course of action Gemma should take, so I was constantly at war with her decisions: was the possibility of escape worth the hazards of the desert? Was pushing Ty’s buttons, or probing him for sensitive information, the best course of action when you feared for your life? Was it worth it to encourage Ty to share things about himself, if it meant you might start to understand or even empathize with his situation? Was being alone really so hard that turning to Ty for comfort became the more appealing option? When it did come time for Gemma to deal with her feelings about Ty though, she managed to sum up my conflicting emotions as well:
"I hated you for everything; for making me feel so helpless everywhere I went, for making me lose control. I hated you for all the emotions in my head, for the confusion…for the way I was suddenly doubting everything. I hated you for turning my life upside dow nand then smashing it into shards. I hated you for making me stand with a whirring fan in my hand, screaming at my mum.
But I hated you for something else too. Right then, and at every moment since you’d left me, all I could think about was you. I wanted you in that apartment. I wanted your arms around me, your face close to mine. I wanted your smell. And I knew I couldn’t-shouldn’t-have it. You’d kidnapped me, put my life in danger..but I loved you too. Or I thought I did. None of it made sense."
While I absolutely loved how emotionally confused Stolen left me, my constant confusion did result in a certain level of separation from Gemma and her actions. How could I ever hope to understand Gemma when I could barely understand my own reactions to her situation?
I think the reason Stolen will stay with me long after finishing it, however, is because of how utterly uncomfortable it made me. I know that what Ty had done was wrong. I know that there was no way to rationalize his actions that would make them right. I know that Gemma was right to constantly fight her imprisonment. And I know that Gemma shouldn’t want to be with Ty. But none of that mattered, because knowing something is completely different from believing in something. And I believed in Ty’s sincerity. I believed that he truly thought he had saved Gemma, that he had rescued her from the life she didn’t want, the life her parent’s were forcing her to live. I believed that Ty meant Gemma no harm, and that he believed she would learn to love him if they spent enough time together, away from the harshness of the city. And I believed that Ty and Gemma shared a strong connection. And the fact that I believed in all of these things is a little disturbing; how can I sympathize with someone who would remove someone’s freedom, tear them away from everything and everyone they know and love, and imprison them in such a dangerous environment? If nothing else, my uncomfortableness is a testament to Christopher’s ability to write a compelling and thought-provoking story.
Emotionally draining, Stolen was masterful at playing with my emotions. I experienced the full spectrum – from fear and anger, to hesitant trust and hopefulness, to a bittersweet acceptance of what can only be described as disturbing love. While I was often uncomfortable with how eager I was to trust and sympathize with a kidnapper, it made for a compelling and intense read!
I bought this book on a whim at a Barnes and Noble because my non-bookish (let's face it, none of my friends are bookish, but she reads occasionally) friend was with me and told me that I just had to read it. So, I picked it it up over the summer and I just now read it.
For the first two hundred pages, I was honestly creeped out and hated it. It took until the last hundred pages for me to really get into it, and from that point on it was really good. Granted, I knew the general idea of what Ty had planned curtsy of my not-so-courteous friend who likes to spoil things.
Like I said, I was initially freaked out by this book. My friend kept telling me how sweet it was and I just wasn't seeing the sweetness in drugging a girl and dragging her halfway around the world. Other than that, I really liked the concept of this book. I can't say much more without giving things away, but I have to admit that by the end I did see how it was a little sweet. It was freaky with Ty stalking Gemma and everything, but it's still unlike any other book, which I liked.
Gemma was a nice main character, not one of my favorites. I liked how it was written as a letter so it was half first person/half second person point-of-view, but I feel like I didn't get to know Gemma as well as we could have. She's supposed to be some rich girl living with absent parents, but I never get that vibe from her. Since we never see that side of her, we don't get to see her transformation as much, which was a little disappointing.
Ty just creeped me out the whole book. Every time he opened his mouth, something else creepy came out. I never really understood anything he did (the overlying thing I did), but the painting, the camel it was all sort of random and didn't give off a soft side like I think it was supposed to.
Overall, it was an okay book. Nothing special ever stood out to me, except for one or two of Ty's quotes. I'd recommend this as a boredom read. If you're looking for a break from a lot of the new books, this is a nice breather. But I wouldn't rush out to get it.
Oh, this book. Talk about a land mine. Whisked from an airport in London to the empty and deserted Australian Outback, Gemma is completely without resources. She's too far from the nearest town to summon help, too deep in the Outback to hope for accidental discovery, and too closely watched to hope to deceive Ty successfully. I say successfully, because she does try a few times, but it always ends in either disaster or them staring soulfully into each other's eyes. Oh, didn't you know?
I spoil nothing when I say that it's fairly obvious that Gemma will grow to "love" Ty by the end. Love, heavy case of Stockholm Syndrome, whatever. I mean, he has "blue, blue eyes." In the sometimes cliched world of YA phrases, that's a dead giveaway right there. And did I mention Gemma is a very-underage sixteen while Ty is closer to thirty? Ew.
Also, the entire book is written as a letter to Ty himself. It's all "you did this" and "you did that." The choice sort of makes sense by the end, but it's still strange to read. Boring to read at times, as well.
Some reviewers accuse the author of indulging in purple prose (that's stuff that's overly flowery and poetic), and I agree. I like pretty writing as much as the next person, but at times it really dragged down the story. The Australian Outback is aliiiiive and magical, yeah yeah yeah. Cue "The Circle of Life", do a little dance, and get on with it already. However, that isn't to say that all of the flowery descriptions were unnecessary. Even as Gemma struggles to understand Ty, she grows to love Australia and the wild beauty of the desert. The setting becomes a character in its own right at times, so some appreciation is warranted.
As for the characters, there's nothing much to say. Their motivations, at least, make a sort of superficial sense. I think some of Ty's motivations are pretty stretched, but I let such concerns slid if the story amuses me enough. Gemma is feisty, and I do love feisty. I cheered every time she put up a struggle in any form. I was never sold on Ty's supposed irresistibility, though. Instead of imagining some tanned god, I just kept picturing Vincent Grey, the freaked-out man-child from The Sixth Sense.
I think what saved the book for me was the ending. Gemma has some pretty big decisions to make, decisions that must be settled in a way that seems organic and logical given her various shifts in understanding regarding Ty but that also wouldn't have advocates up in arms. I don't think this book in any way is a stellar talking point for "stranger danger" (the circumstances leading up to the kidnapping are fairly unique and, dare I say, preposterous). However, from Helen of Troy to Taken, fictionalized kidnappings have always fascinated the general public, and interest has increased in modern times due to the high-publicity cases of Jaycee Dugard and Elizabeth Smart. I believe that many teens, having grown up inundated with such fears and pressures, will find this book interesting despite its flaws.
***Points Added For: Feisty heroine, a plot involving kidnapping, pretty scenery, a logical conclusion.
***Points Subtracted For: Less-than-stellar delivery of an interesting premise, icky "romance," "blue, blue eyes," purple prose, a way-too-heavy extended metaphor involving a camel.
***Good For Fans Of: Future fans of Room by Emma Donoghue (WAY better, IMO), Twilight by Stephanie Meyer or other sketchy romances, anyone fascinated by news cases involving kidnappings.
***Notes for Parents: Heavy language (way too many f-bombs for my taste, plus other profanities), really stupid romance (she's sixteen! he's in his late twenties!), underage drinking, nonsexual disrobing.
Stolen starts out with Gemma getting coffee at the airport when she is kidnapped by the kind stranger who pays for her coffee. Taken from Bangkok to the middle of nowhere in Australia, Gemma has to use her wits to escape her captor.
Let me just start out saying: OMG!!! I did not think this would be my type of book but it was so good. I read it all in one sitting. I think I stayed up until like 3 in the morning to finish this book. You just have keep reading to find out what would happen. I loved the main character, Gemma, which I seldom do. She was totally relatable and was a strong protagonist throughout the whole book. The writing pulled me in from the first page, and the plot was fast-paced, keeping me thoroughly engaged with this book. I can't wait to read more by Lucy Christopher.