Thursday, July 15, 2010

Stolen by Lucy Christopher

I've intended for a while to do a post about Bath Spa University graduates. I first learned about the program from an online interview with fellow Bristol resident Elen Caldecott, author of the fun HOW KIRSTY JENKINS STOLE THE ELEPHANT. Elen is not the only Bath Spa graduate who has been published. Actually, in the program's short history (it's only been running a handful of years), there have been a number of successful graduates: Marie-Louise Jensen, C J Skuse, Sally Nichols, Alexandra Diaz, Jim Carrington, etc.

Throughout the year, I've searched out their books to read and have been extraordinarily impressed. It's been so inspirational for me to read really good writing and to know that that could be me in a few years. It's also very cool to read the acknowledgments. Frequently they thank their fellow classmates and Julia (my tutor--and I assume theirs as well!).

I've been meaning to write about several of these books, as they really are that good. But today I want to write about Lucy Christopher. A couple of months ago, I bought a copy of STOLEN by Lucy Christopher. She graduated from Bath Spa's Creative Writing MA (the Writing for Young People program wasn't yet in existence). She's also worked as a tutor on my program and is currently working on a PhD on Australian literature's representation of wild places.

I was blown away by STOLEN. Here's my review on Goodreads:

"Wow. One of the most powerful, complex YA books I have ever read. A chilling and gripping account of a teen girl's kidnapping and the progression of her feelings towards her captor. I will be thinking about this book for years to come. Also a beautiful rendering of the Australian outback, setting as character, making me dream of sand, sun and sky.

It's not just me who's been blown away.

Yesterday, Stolen won the Branford Boase prize and it has been shortlisted for the Prime Minister's Literary Awards in Australia.

STOLEN was released in the US in May and the reviews have been astounding:

Maggie Stiefvater (NY Times Bestselling author of SHIVER) said:

"It’s got a great sense of place and the character development is just fantastic (I love me some trauma), but the thing I liked best was that as Gemma, the main character, spends more time in the presence of her kidnapper, the author very, very, very skillfully messes with our brains just like Gemma’s brain is getting messed with. It makes for a very complex read with no easy answers, just like I like ‘em. I loved how all of the motivations were thoroughly grounded in past history; we get a profile of the kidnapper as a human, not just as a stick figure. As a teen, I would have adored this book even more."

For the full review, click here. Even more exciting, Maggie's offered to blurb the paperback version.

Courtney Summers (author of CRACKED UP TO BE, one of my FAVORITES, reviewed here) said in her Goodreads review:

"Absolutely stunning. What a beautifully intense book. Incredibly vivid setting, but not overwritten. A testament to Christopher's talent that I'm as conflicted as Gemma is... " (have to cut off there, as it gets into spoiler territory)

Nova Ren Suma, author of DANI NOIR, has been twittering about it:.

"There goes a productive night of revising. Just picked up STOLEN by Lucy Christopher."

"I had to force myself to leave STOLEN by Lucy Christopher at home today. Nothing would have been accomplished otherwise. So gripping."

"Twitter: STOLEN by Lucy Christopher is by far one of the best YA novels I've read all year. Awe. I am in it."

All of this excitement is completely deserved. I'm so pleased to see a really good book getting exactly the kind of publicity it should. Even better? How exciting to see a fellow student doing so well. And if you haven't read Stolen yet? What are you waiting for?

Well, OK... here's the amazing trailer:

Now go read it!


  1. Thanks for the recommendation, Anne. I just reserved it at the library; there are only two copies in the system and several holds, so I guess it'll be an August book for me!

  2. Oh, I hope you like it!
    How interesting that it's been so popular at your library. It really does seem to be doing quite well in the US. Yay! =)

  3. Read the book before I found this page.
    I have been searching around for any books similar to Stolen. It has consumed me in a way that no other book ever has! I can't seem to stop thinking about it! I fell in love with Ty, and I was so torn at the ending.
    I've been searching for any similar books, where a girl falls in love with someone she REALLY shouldn't. Any suggestions :) ?

  4. Hey, thanks for stopping by. I was really torn at the ending too, and LOVED how Lucy Christopher messed with the reader. I really felt a lot like Gemma and then was angry at myself for it! Now I keep craving other books set in Australia! =)

    As for books like Stolen... I can't think of any easily. I think part of what's amazing about Stolen is that Christopher is confronting a lot of what's considered romantic in our culture (Twilight, for example).

    I can't NOT suggest books, though, so here's some of my ideas!

    The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson.
    It doesn't have the thriller edge that Stolen has, but it is a beautiful book in its own right, and about, partially, a girl falling for the wrong guy (her dead sister's boyfriend).

    Anything by Courtney Summers. I reviewed her Cracked Up To Be here:
    Her books aren't about girls falling for the wrong guys, but more about girls doing dangerous / rebellious things. They're very edgy and pacey, and I think you might find they have a similar tone to Stolen.

    The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams is about a girl in a very restrictive religious colony who falls in love and then has to flee when she's forced to marry her uncle. It might have the edge and dangerous romance angle you're looking for.

    A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly is a story about a girl working at a resort hotel who discovers a secret about another woman there, who has run away with a dangerous man.

    And of course, Lucy Christopher has published one other book, called Flyaway. The subject matter is quite different, but if you loved her writing, I'd certainly give that one a try (unfortunately I haven't managed to get my hands on a copy yet!).

    Hope this is helpful! If you enjoy any of these, or find anything else that you love, do let me know! Happy reading!

  5. Hi,

    If you liked Stolen I'd recommend Guantanamo Boy by Anna Perera.

    "Khalid, a fifteen-year-old Muslim boy from Rochdale, is abducted from Pakistan while on holiday with his family. He is taken to Guantanamo Bay and held without charge, where his hopes and dreams are crushed under the cruellest of circumstances. An innocent denied his freedom at a time when Western boys are finding theirs, Khalid tries and fails to understand what's happening to him and cannot fail to be a changed young man."

    When I originally found this book I thought that it sounded like a guys book... but then I read it and it turned out to be Amazing. I like books that explore tough, but realistic subjects. Do you know any books like that?



  6. Thanks for the recommendation, Tash, I'll definitely check it out.

    As for her books that explore tough but realistic subjects, I'd recommend author Courtney Summers, Laurie Halse Anderson, BOG CHILD by Siobhan Dowd and I haven't read it yet, but I've heard excellent things about Laura Manivong's ESCAPING THE TIGER.

  7. I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE this book! I was sooo... dissapointed with the ending though. I wanted them to live in the Seperates together forever and throughout the whole book I wanted her to fall in love with him and as soon as they fell in love they were seperated!

  8. Anon: Aw, so glad you enjoyed STOLEN so much. It really is an incredible book. Too bad it had to end on a sour note for you. I have to admit, though, I like the ending; I feel like it's complex, just like the rest of the novel. Part of me really does want Gemma and Ty to stay together, but on the other hand, he did something terrible to her. If they were to stay together, could she feel safe with him? Would he allow her to leave Australia? To have a relationship with other friends and family? I think a healthy relationship needs to include all those things, and I'm not sure Ty could do that. I like to think that someday he will figure that out, though.

  9. Awesome review! Here's mine if you don't mind:

    Thanks and have a nice day! :)


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