Sunday 14 August 2011

CBR3 Book 65: "Stolen: A Letter to My Captor" by Lucy Christopher

Publisher: Chicken House
Page count: 304 pages
Rating: 3 stars
Date begun: August 7th, 2011
Date finished: August 8th, 2011

British sixteen-year-old Gemma is travelling with her parents in Asia and waiting for a transfer at Bangkok airport. Here she is drugged and abducted by Ty, a twenty-something-old man who takes her to the Australian Outback, far away from civilisation and everything she knows. As the book progresses, Gemma realizes that Ty's not selected her at random, he's been watching her and planning for years. He doesn't hurt her, or molest her, but claims he loves her, and that she'll spend the rest of her life in the wilderness with him.

Stolen: A Letter to My Captor does, as the title suggests, take the form of Gemma's letter to her abductor. We follow her from what she believes is her first encounter with Ty at the airport, where the handsome young man ("I didn't want to repulse you") buys her a coffee. The book has no chapters, and is a very compelling, if at times, uncomfortable read. Ty is a very intense young man, with a difficult background. He may be a stalker and a kidnapper, who claims to love Gemma with a scary intensity, but he never makes any sexual advances towards her, and treats her with quiet solicitude. He sees the Outback as a paradise, and most of his experiences with city life are negative. He can't see why Gemma won't see the beauty of the rugged and lonely landscape and realize how lucky she is to stay there with him. His thought is clearly that as long as she gets used to it, and him, she'll happily share a life with him there.

Gemma, of course tries to escape, only to have to realize that she is too far away from anywhere. As her time in captivity passes, she reluctantly gets to know Ty better, and starts to sympathize more with him. Is this the start of an unusual romance, or just Stockholm Syndrome?

Stolen is an unusual book, and while uncomfortable in places, I also found it hard to put down. I read started it late at night, and pretty much read it in one sitting the next day. Christopher's description of the Australian landscape and her characters is excellent, and the subject matter is certainly something out of the ordinary (it came out the year before Room and while both are about abductions, I think they're very different books). I can strongly recommend it.

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