Book Review: Stolen: A Letter to My Captor by Lucy Cristopher

It happened like this. I was stolen from an airport. Taken from everything I knew, everything I was used to. Taken to sand and heat, dirt and danger. And he expected me to love him. This is my story. A letter from nowhere. 

Told in a letter to her captor by 16-year-old Gemma, Stolen explores the influence that a really wild and remote space can have on the inner development of a young woman.

Gemma, a British city-living teenager, is kidnapped while on holiday with her parents. Her kidnapper, Ty, takes her to the wild land of outback Australia. To Gemma’s city-eyes, the landscape is harsh and unforgiving and there are no other signs of human life for hundreds of kilometres in every direction. Here, there is no escape. Gemma must learn to deal with her predicament, or die trying to fight it.

Ty, a young man, has other ideas for her. His childhood experience of living in outback Australia has forever changed the way he sees things. But he too has been living in the city; Gemma’s city. Unlike Gemma, however, he has had enough. In outback Australia he sees an opportunity for a new kind of life; a life more connected to the earth. He has been watching and learning about Gemma for many years; when he kidnaps her, his plan finally begins to take shape.

But Ty is not a stereotypical kidnapper and, over time, Gemma comes to see Ty in a new light, a light in which he is something more sensitive. The mysteries of Ty, and the mystery of her new life, start to take hold. She begins to feel something for her kidnapper when he wakes screaming in the night. Over the time spent with her captor, Gemma’s appreciation of him develops …but is this real love, or Stockholm Syndrome?

Paperback: 301 Pages

Series: Stand-alone

Publisher: Chicken House Ltd.

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Stolen is the kind of book you either love or hate, right from the beginning.  Written in letter form, if by the end of the first page you don’t like Gemma’s narrative, then I can guarantee you won’t like this book at all.

16-year-old Gemma is kidnapped from an airport by Ty, an older guy who has been stalking/observing her for a long time, and taken to a remote and unpopulated place in Australia. In his mind, Ty does this to “save her” and eventually expects Gemma to love him back and be thankful for what he did.

This is not a dynamic novel, it’s not action packed and besides the interactions between Gemma and Ty and a couple of  (failed) escape attempts, not much happens in the outback of Australia. Yet it’s a completely engaging and powerful story. Superbly written and heartfelt.

There are many people out there who will see Ty as the bad guy and I also bet there’ll be people who, by the end of the book, will warm up to his character. I’m one of those people who couldn’t really make up their minds about Ty or better yet, let’s say I had a love-hate relationship with the character by the end. It’s one of the reasons this book deserved a 5 star rating.

Being used to reading UF novels where the heroine is kick ass and can handle pretty much everything, I was a bit frustrated with Gemma’s behavior and her thoughts as the story progresses, yet by the end I couldn’t help but understand where she was coming from just as well as I understood Ty. Also, one way or another, she never gives up.

A journey into the Stockholm Syndrome and it’s manifestations, you get your answer by the end of the book – is it love or not? – as seen through Gemma’s eyes.

The only thing I wish is that Cristopher wrote another novel, a letter back to Gemma from Ty. Because it’s written in letter form we only get to know Ty’s character through whatever Gemma tells us, yet I think it would have been immensely interesting he would have answered her letter back, providing us with a better understanding of his thoughts and actions. Kind of like Maitreyi by Eliade and It Does not Die by Devi.

With complex, real characters, an intense story and beautiful writing, this book deserved nothing less than a 5 star rating and I consider it a must read.

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2 thoughts on “Book Review: Stolen: A Letter to My Captor by Lucy Cristopher

  1. Wow, sounds like a very powerful read, I’m glad you enjoyed it so much.
    The cliffhanger is killing me though! About the whole Stockholm Syndrome thing. Now I’m going to have to put it on my wishlist! Dang.

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