20 Oct 2012
"Stolen" by Lucy Christopher
Sometimes nothing will do but a re-read of a much loved book. Even though you know the story and the characters, some books are so special that you can read them again and again and still find something interesting, new or fascinating in them while at the same time the known provides a certain comfort. Last weekend I needed that comfort so I snuggled under the duvet with one of my favourite YA reads, "Stolen" by Lucy Christopher.
The story is an unusual one. Gemma is a lucky 16-year-old girl. She lives in a wealthy part of London with her financier father and art dealer mother and it is a pretty easy life until one day, it is all taken away from her. She's travelling to Vietnam on vacation with her family, when she meets a handsome young man in Bangkok Airport. He buys her a cup of coffee and suddenly everything is blurred. Next thing she knows, Gemma is in the Australian outback, hundreds of miles from the nearest city, far away from her family and friends. The only one there is Ty, the young man who has abducted her. Why he has taken Gemma and what he wants from her is a mystery to her and is slowly revealed to both her and the reader.
This is YA as it should be. Powerful, convincing, different and realistic. There's no paranormal romance here, yet it has some of the same qualities. As with many paranormals, this is set in a world very different to the one you and I live in and the rules are completely different. It is realistic yet it has the same magic as a good paranormal romance would have and it will appeal to the same readers.
What is interesting is that even though there are only really two characters in the plot, it still feels dynamic and full of action with lots of interesting dialogue. These two main characters are well-written and come to live, their personalities spring out of the pages, so real are they. The work that Lucy Christopher has done on her protagonist Gemma and the difficult Ty means that this novel is classes above many of the other YA books on the market. It is simply of a different - and better - quality and so much more interesting and powerful.
The story is scary, worrying, while at the same time being gripping and sorrow-ful. The way that Gemma matures throughout the book is rarely seen in the genre and it makes her a good literary role model for teenage girls. It reminds me of Sophie McKenzie's "Girl, Missing" but this one is better written with a more believable plot and more engaging characters. So if you're wondering what to get your teenage daughter/niece/friend for Christmas, I'd say that "Stolen" is a good contender for a great present.
Read it if: You like intelligent, emotionally mature Young Adult literature with a twist.