Review Blog

Jun 16 2010

Stolen by Lucy Christopher

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Chicken House, 2009. ISBN 978-1906427139.
(Age 14+) Highly recommended. Sixteen year old Gemma is drugged and stolen from the Bangkok Airport and taken to a remote area in the Sandy Desert in outback Australia. In a letter to her captor, Gemma outlines everything that has happened to her. The vivid descriptions of the desert, the isolation and her fears and feelings for Ty, the young attractive man who has kidnapped her, make for compulsive reading.
Christopher has set up two memorable characters in Gemma and Ty. Gemma is spoilt and middle class. Ty is a well built, artistic young man, the opposite of the stereotype of a kidnapper who is obsessed with a young girl. As Gemma's ordeal continues, the author brilliantly outlines her growth as a person and her determination to get free, while reflecting on the dependency that grows between captor and victim. The reader also begins to understand the awful pressure that Ty has been under all his life, his mother's desertion, his father's fall into despair, and his experiences as a lonely boy in the bush. The realisation that Ty's obsession has begun many years before when Gemma was a very young girl is very unsettling.
I loved this book, and thought that it would make a worthy Year 11 or Year 12 study. There are many themes to explore: obsession, love, dependency, and the desert as a prison as well as Stockholm syndrome, when a hostage begins to have positive feelings towards the captor, and which is explored in depth by Gemma especially in the dramatic conclusion of the story. Unlike in the novel, Living dead girl, by Elizabeth Scott, Christopher doesn't describe the sexual feelings that Ty may have and the aftermath of the abduction is left to the reader to imagine.
Stolen is certainly worthy of its nomination for the Cilip Carnegie Medal 2010 and CBCA Older Readers shortlist 2010.
Pat Pledger

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