Maybe since I just saw The Great Gatsby and I have been thinking about To Kill a Mockingbird, something in this kidnapping tale seemed almost romantic. In any other situation, Ty, the pained loner who loves the land and pledges devotion to one woman for his entire life, who only wants to show this woman the beauty of the harsh wilderness around them, who never touches this woman but protects her, who paints and traps snakes during the day, and who seems to know everything there is to know about the Australian desert would be a hero. In Stolen, however, Lucy Christopher twists the tragic hero and places him at the center of a kidnapping tale. We see Ty's devotion to Gemma, but the connection between the two characters remains uneasy because the motives and the violence of kidnapping underly the entire skewed relationship. In The Great Gatsby, Jay constructed his lavish empire only to win the love of Daisy and be worthy of her love. There's a romanticism in that story. Jay Gatsby endears readers as the tragic hero whose fatal flaw stems from the fact that he did it all for love. He wanted to repeat the past with Daisy, and he created just the sort of world that would attract her. In To Kill A Mockingbird, Boo Radley watches over Jem and Scout and protects them from danger, going as far as killing a man to protect them. In the end, Boo, although creepy and somewhat stalkerish, becomes a hero who overcomes the evil. Christopher's portrayal of Ty leads even his victim to question him - can she trust him? Should she? Does she have feelings for this man whose motives are twisted and his sense of reality warped? Is he tender or terrifying? Is he calculating or kind? The complexity of the character makes it hard to know which leads to the brilliance of Christopher's work and the well deserved Printz Honor it received.
I loved this book and tore through it in a day abandoning other work responsibilities to be entrenched in the heated story of kidnapper and victim, the wild of the Australian dessert becoming a vivid, living character itself. Gemma's internal struggles, her will to escape, and the overriding seductive nature of her captor, all drew me in from the first page.
It's that lingering question of what really constitutes love? How do we differentiate love from capture? Hero from hunter? Healthy relationships from unhealthy ones? Devotion from deviant behavior? Lucy Christopher presents a character as complex as the Australian landscape he knows so well - dangerous and deadly as well as beautiful and breathtaking. Ty will make you question your concept of hero and villain and Stolen will make you question what it means to be taken and what it means to be saved.