Published: May 4th 2009, Chicken House Ltd
Pages: 320 pages, paperback
Summary (from Goodreads): Sixteen year old Gemma is kidnapped from Bangkok airport and taken to the Australian Outback. This wild and desolate landscape becomes almost a character in the book, so vividly is it described.
Ty, her captor, is no stereotype. He is young, fit and completely gorgeous. This new life in the wilderness has been years in the planning. He loves only her, wants only her. Under the hot glare of the Australian sun, cut off from the world outside, can the force of his love make Gemma love him back?
The story takes the form of a letter, written by Gemma to Ty, reflecting on those strange and disturbing months in the outback. Months when the lines between love and obsession, and love and dependency, blur until they don't exist - almost.
My review: Melvin Burgess describes Christopher as ‘a vivid new voice for teens’ and I couldn’t agree more. Stolen is Lucy Christopher’s debut novel (written as part of her PhD) and it’s a brave, original novel that I thoroughly enjoyed reading.
Stolen is the story of sixteen year old Gemma, who is kidnapped from a Bangkok airport by a charming, handsome boy and taken to the most desolate part of the Australian Outback. Nobody knows she is there, nobody even knows where to look for her, she’s completely alone at the mercy of her kidnapper, the mysterious Ty.
As the novel progresses and we learn that, not only had Ty been planning the kidnap for years, Gemma had always been his victim and that, for me, is what makes Stolen so unsettling. There’s nothing remarkably about Gemma, she’s an ordinary looking girl who came from an ordinary family in England. Somehow that’s scarier than if she was a movie star or daughter of a millionaire.
Stolen is not a book for the easily offended. The novel is tense from beginning to end but Christopher doesn’t gloss over the more unpleasant aspects of the story; instead she writes them so delicately that it’s impossible not to feel some kind of empathy towards Ty.
Both characters are superb; Ty, in particularly, is brilliantly written. He’s a kidnapper, by all rights we should hate him but it’s so hard to as we learn more about him. And Gemma, she starts off as a stereotypical moody teenager but as the novel grows, so does she and by the closing chapter I had really bonded with her.
Setting is clearly one of Christopher’s strengths as a writer because Stolen is an incredibly visual book. As I was reading it I kept thinking over and over again how well it would all translate on the big screen. If a film adaptation is ever made (and I think it should be), I’d be first in line to see it.
There are references to sex within Stolen. Well, not sex so much as sexual tension, which reaches almost Twilight proportions. Take the following quotation, for example:
‘Your face was less than an arm’s width from mine. I could lean across to you, or you could lean into me. We could kiss. You watched me, and I felt your hot leafy breath settle on my skin.’
Stolen might be a controversial story but nothing feels forced and Christopher writes everything so subtly and beautifully that it’s a book that can be enjoyed by teenagers of all ages. I would highly recommend this book as brilliant summer reading and, I don’t want to spoil anything, but if you can reach the end without shedding a tear for the camel then you truly have a heart of stone.
Total: 16.5/20 (B+)