It happened like this. I was stolen from an airport. Taken from everything I knew, everything I was used to. Taken to sand and heat, dirt and danger. And he expected me to love him.
This is my story.
A letter from nowhere.
Sixteen year old Gemma is kidnapped from Bangkok airport and taken to the Australian Outback. This wild and desolate landscape becomes almost a character in the book, so vividly is it described. Ty, her captor, is no stereotype. He is young, fit and completely gorgeous. This new life in the wilderness has been years in the planning. He loves only her, wants only her. Under the hot glare of the Australian sun, cut off from the world outside, can the force of his love make Gemma love him back?
The story takes the form of a letter, written by Gemma to Ty, reflecting on those strange and disturbing months in the outback. Months when the lines between love and obsession, and love and dependency, blur until they don’t exist – almost.
You know how sometimes, when you close a book, you feel numb? When you feel empty, as if the book drained you of all your emotions? You keep thinking about it, about those characters, and you don’t know what to do, you don’t even want to do anything, you just sit there thinking. That’s what Stolen did to me.
You blinked quickly when I looked at you, and turned away, as if you were nervous… as if you felt guilty for checking out some random girl in an airport. But I wasn’t random, was I? And it was a good act. I fell for it. It’s funny, but I always thought I could trust blue eyes. I thought they were safe somehow. All the good guys have baby blues. The dark eyes are for the villains…
Gemma was at the airport in Bangkok, waiting for her flight home, when she separated from her parents because they were fighting, like usual; then she met Ty. He seemed like a good, shy guy, offering a drink to a girl. Expect, he wasn’t. He drugged her and took her away. He took her to a small house in the australian desert, away from her family, away fom civilization. Only the two of them in the middle of nowhere.
“What do you want?” I asked, my voice cracking. “That’s easy.” You smiled, and the cigarette in your mouth hung down, stuck to your lips. “Company.”
Ty thought about everything, so that his plan to keep Gemma with him forever could work, but he’s not what you may think he is. He wasn’t brutal, he never touched Gemma, he did have some mood swings and got angry a few times, though. Gemma never faltered, she didn’t fall in love with him as soon as he threated her humanly. She kept fighting him, looking for weapons, keeping her distance, trying to escape. But she also tried to fight him with words, trying to get to him so that he might bring her back home. Because pretty soon she understood that she couldn’t escape. The wild landscape in which they were, was a living thing, and Gemma had no idea how to survive it.
I’d never imagined that you’d have a story, too. Until that moment, you were just the kidnapper. You didn’t have reasons for anything. You were stupid and evil and mentally ill. That was all. When you started talking, you started changing.
Don’t get this wrong. This is not about the kidnapped falling in love with her captor. There’s a lot more to it, and it’s a lot more complicated than that. Sure when Ty started telling his story, everything changed. He was broken, truly broken, as a human. It’s actually sad, because if only he’d had that help he so much needed when he was younger he could have turned into a beautiful human being. Unfortunately life’s not that easy, and even if you’re broken, you can’t be excused for everything you do.
“So, they kind of stole you, too.” I said softly.
Gemma never forgot why she was there, and that what she really wanted was to go home. And I wanted that too, obviously. But it’s incredible how the author, made Gemma, and me, doubt everything. She made me feel so many different things for Ty, and I’m still very upset about it, because I didn’t want to feel like that.
“Who says I’m not Superman?” You were looking at me with one eye closed against the sun. I shrugged. “You would have rescued me by now if you were Superman,” I said quietly. “Who says I haven’t?” “Anyone would say you haven’t.” “Anyone’s just looking at it wrong, then.”
Ty really believed that he was saving Gemma, saving her from a wrong life, neglecting parents, and a lot more. He was naive, in a way, like if he were still a child, because he was never given a chance to grow up. Maybe he was even right on some things about Gemma’s life, but that doesn’t change how wrong what he did was. But in the meantime, even though Gemma never got comfortable around him, she did spend more time with him, and he taught her so much about that desert, about its creatures, about life in general. I really feel like the landscape was another character who affected me a lot. It was beautifully described.
“People love what they’re used to, I guess.” “No.” You shook your head. “People should love what needs loving. That way they can save it.”
The more pages I turned, the more things got complicated, the more I didn’t know what to hope for. The fact that this book was written as a letter from Gemma to Ty only made it the more exciting and interesting. Always wondering whether Gemma got away, if Ty let her go, if he’s in prison, if they’re together, if he’s dead. It was such an amazing experience.
And it’s hard to hate someone once you understand them.
I think when an author can make you doubt everything, can make you feel everything, can make the line between good and evil blur, that’s when an author wrote a great book. And Lucy Christopher did.