Cleverly crafted and totally believable!
Sixteen year old, Gemma Toombs is at Bangkok airport with her parents when she goes off on her own for a drink an hour before their flight to Vietnam. In the cafe she bumps into Ty, a good looking boy who is older than herself. He’s so easy to talk to and seems interested in her Gemma can’t help but feel drawn to him and stop for a chat. Before she knows it she’s telling him all about herself, but there was no need. He already knows everything about her. She never makes it to Vietnam.
When she awakens, Gemma discovers she’s been drugged, snatched from the airport and taken to a remote location in the Australian Outback by none other than the friendly Ty. He planned the whole thing for ages because they were “meant to be together.” Given enough time he’s positive Gemma will understand that. And in a way she did. As the hours turned into days, then months, they both experienced some wonderful sights, made his place more like home, and even captured a camel which they kept as a pet for a while. Yet, not once did one thought leave the back of her mind. Home. When she gets her chance to escape she takes it, but when out in the middle of the desert, with no neighbours, no running streams and absolutely no experience at fending for herself under these conditions, she is destined to fail. Ironic really, with all that space around her, there is actually no where to run.
This is a seriously shocking, clever piece of writing that moved me no end. Here we have a young, innocent girl, taken from everything she knows by a boy she trusted, or at least never dreamed would be planning anything. We learn how his smooth talking and gentle ways slowly draw her into his world, in which she begins to feel something known as the Stockholm Syndrome – in short, sympathy for her captor. And it’s not surprising. Ty has been through a very emotional time, and he doesn’t mean her any physical harm, so one can see how easily it would be to fall for his ways. However, being out in the middle of nowhere on your own for too long, and being a mixed bag of emotions can take its toll, and make him dangerous and more unstable than perhaps he appears to be.
When something near fatal happens and Ty is forced to take Gemma to a camp because her survival depends on him giving her up it is heartbreaking. On one hand you want him to give her back, but on the other hand, you see her side of the story and understand her confusion. If she leaves him now, which she has to, he’ll be in big trouble and she knows she’ll never see him again. That’s the last thing she wants. He’s not a monster in the true sense of the word, even though he did a terrible thing taking her. When her life is literally in his hands the final test of his love for her is really pushed to the limits. Should he let her go, or make her stay?
I loved the ending and thought it was cleverly crafted and totally believable. Normally a book written in second person, documented as one long letter can be off-putting, but in this instance it made me feel so connected to Gemma that not only could this be a true story it made me feel it could easily be me in her place – I felt that involved! Author Lucy Christopher has also put a lot of research into getting the setting, and all the creatures that shared her protagonist’s world just right. Stolen is a scary, thought provoking and utterly fascinating read!
Additional note: I remember this one fondly, at the time I thought the ending was so sad it made me cry! Strangely, it’s not for everyone. [Shrugs shoulders, pulls a ‘Can’t understand it face’, and raises eyebrows!]
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