Stolen tells the story of 16 year old Gemma who is on layover in Bangkok, on vacation with her parents, and how she is kidnapped by Ty. It only takes a second. She’s buying a cup of coffee. He’s checking her out. A slight tip of his hand sends drugs into her cup, and eventually into her veins.
Drugged, she is abducted and taken with Ty to the Australian outback, where she is forced to live with her abductor, a place where it seems no life is able to thrive. Gemma struggles to escape unscathed, and with her heart intact.
I read Stolen in less than a day. I started reading, while my internet was on one of its problem periods, and just kept reading. I didn’t want to stop. No, it felt like I couldn’t stop. I was so engrossed by the story that I even dreamt about it, about the rugged Australian outback, after I finally put my bookmark in for the night.
For a debut book, Christopher writes like a pro. Her prose is simple, but evocative and pure and heartbreaking. From the first word I was captivated by this girl’s story and wanted to know how it ended.
And here’s the amazing part. Like so many readers/reviews of this book have commented on, Christopher ensnares you in her trap. Technically, you know that Ty is bad and what he did is awful. But at the same time, you want him and Gemma to end up together. Call it our romantic fantasies, but you wish that everything turns out all right and that there will be a happy ending. As someone on Goodreads noted, Ty and Gemma are the only two characters in the story. You can’t help but want a happy ending for them both. At the same time, you know that this is wrong and there is something wrong with Ty. And this is where Christopher gets you.
You know from the first word that this story isn’t going to end well and that Gemma will be found, eventually. You just don’t know how.
Christopher does an amazing job describing Ty. He isn’t just good or evil or vulnerable or weak, but a mixture of all those things and more. He shows a surprising gentle side sometimes, but then he can also get angry very quickly. He claims he loves Gemma, has loved her for a long time, and yet he holds her captive from all that she loves and needs.
This isn’t a horror story, but that’s not to say there aren’t some creepy or scary parts in it. Ty is someone that has always been on the fringes of Gemma’s life, but she’s never known. This is what makes the story dynamic, I think, and makes their relationship that much more intense. He claims to know a part of her that even her family doesn’t. He tells her stories of her childhood and early teen years, memories she vaguely remembers.
The Australian outback is another character in the story. The descriptions that Christopher gives pulse with life and colour, yet also make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up on end as you try to imagine the vast emptiness, the idea that there is no one for hundreds of miles, no one to hear Gemma’s screams or calls for help. The emptiness and barrenness is terrifying.
This story was an amazing read, and I could feel dread every time I imagined the end, because I didn’t want it to end. Every conversation between Ty and Gemma felt real and made my heart throb with unease. What made it even harder to stop was the fact that there are no chapter breaks. There are some breaks, but nothing that makes you want to pause.
I didn’t know much about Stockholm Syndrome before picking up this book, but I’ve looked it up since finishing and its a syndrome in which victims of abduction cases sympathise with their captors, and can even go as far as defending them.
Gemma’s psychiatrist suggests that this is what she’s suffering from, but she immediately shuts that idea down, and so did I. But after finishing the story, I wonder if maybe that’s what Christopher’s intention was, to make readers experience Stockholm Syndrome, to show that it isn’t such a cut and dry term, but comes from an experience that is complicated and painful.
And after such a captivating read, my feelings were similarly complicated.
To put it simply, Stolen stole my heart. And refused to give it back.
So for that, 5/5.
Thanks for reading.
‘Till next time,