In her debut novel, Stolen, Lucy Christopher proves to be a master of psychological gameplay. The Printz Honor Book effectively takes the reader through the steps of Stockholm syndrome, making us fall into a desperate kind of love with a captor who seems beautiful, poetic, and eternally devoted.
The story begins when sixteen year old Gemma, who is decidedly bored with her only-child, overly-protected existence, is kidnapped from a crowded airport and transported in a hazy rush to an isolated shack in the middle of the scorching Australian desert. For the modern-day reader, we expect this premise to lead to the horrific nightmares we envision in our generation of Criminal Minds, Living Dead Girl, and the ever-darker news clips that make these stories seem all too real. However, Gemma's beautiful young captor, Ty, is no ordinary villain. Although this man, who we presume to be a stranger at the time, grabs Gemma in a Taken-style scene of terror, he seems alarmingly gentle to his captive. Ty gives her space, peace, and devotion. As readers, this alone begins to work on our judgment, making us begrudgingly accept a character we would normally seek to hate.
This eerie draw towards the tan, gorgeous Ty only deepens when we learn more about Ty and Gemma's story. As Ty tells Gemma about their history together, Lucy Christopher works her magic, making Ty appear as Gemma's savior. We as readers begin to long for Gemma to submit to her situation. The peaceful life and the beautiful scenery, which Christopher describes in depth, make us want to stay in this Australian dust land forever.
While simultaneously showing all the tell-tale symptoms of Stockholm Syndrome, and deciding we're okay with it in order to bring about a blissful, romantic ending, Christopher again shocks our psyche, leaving us feeling entirely disconcerted and making us question how sound our judgment really is. At the end of the novel, the perspective of the outside world makes us see the situation from an entirely different light, and Gemma, as well as the reader, begins to wonder how we could ever have been so gullible.
If you wish to read a book that plays with your head and your heart, pulls you in to the emotions of the main characters, and leaves you questioning everything that you thought you knew, Stolen will not disappoint.
Recommended by Katelyn McLimans