Thursday, 4 June 2009
Chicken House do it again
Stolen - Lucy Christopher
I've just finished this, one of the most disturbing books I've read in a long time.
It is a truly outstanding first novel published by Chicken House and I am really surprised that it seems to have just appeared on the shelves with so little fuss and fanfare. It is certainly a book that I am not going to forget in a long long time.
The action starts straight away in Bangkok airport where Gemma is getting herself a coffee following a long flight and an argument with her parents. Jet lag is making her a little spaced out and when a good looking guy comes up and rescues her Gemma is more than happy to let him do so.
Her rescuer is not what he seems. He slips something into her coffee and then once that has taken effect he kidnaps Gemma from the airport right under her parent's noses. The next thing Gemma knows she is waking up in a strange bed, in a strange house literally in the middle of nowhere. Slowly her memories return, helped out by her captor who is more than willing to fill in the blanks.
The rest of the book concentrates on Gemma's attempts to both appease and escape from her kidnapper and while these actions are well written and believable it is when the focus is on Ty that the quality of Lucy Christopher's writing really shines through. He is a truly terrifying character, with an ability to make everything he says seem so reasonable. Gemma is a teenager who could have come from anywhere, she is a very realistic character, but Ty leaps from the page in all of his horror and compels you to read more and more about him and his plans. I'm shuddering just thinking about him.
Surprisingly the climax of this book is not the final chapter and it is this that slightly spoiled my read. I am sure that everything that happens towards the end is well researched and accurate, but for me it was such an anti climax to the tension that it dragged me out of the story. For this to have been a perfect book for me I would have said that there needed to be two books, either physically or separated within the text. Book one finishing with the dramatic occurrence and then book two focusing more on the resolution and healing. This would have allowed Christopher the space to give as much detail on the healing process as she did on the kidnap.
The style of book, having Gemma write to Ty, also didn't quite work for me as I often forgot it was a letter and then found the moments where she addresses Ty directly jarring. However as there is no way I could ever have written anything a quarter as good as this these are minor points that I only mention because they drew me out of such an incredible story when all I wanted to do was stay immersed and find out more.
Oh dear, again I've made it seem like I didn't like the book. This isn't the case at all, I found it a gripping read - one that I really couldn't put down at all, I just had to know how it was all going to end. It was a very visual read and it isn't an 'issue book' at all, which with the underlying theme of Stockholm Syndrome it could so easily have become. Chicken House really have done it again, they've taken and gamble with a new author and a difficult topic and produced a fantastic book.
I'm not the only one who thinks this either Achuka have made it only their second five star book of the year.