Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Book Review: Girl, Stolen

  

I've written before that my taste in books isn't always what most people would consider academic.  I read for pleasure and many times that means well-written books...sometimes it means books that are just mind candy.  They aren't well-written and they have no intellectual value, but I enjoy the story.  The problem is that I enjoy them while I'm reading them, but the more I think about them afterward, the harder it is to like them.

Girl, Stolen was unfortunately one of those books.  I tried not to be too hard on the writing, but honestly, it was pretty bad.  The premise (A blind girl, waiting for her step mother to get a prescription, is kidnapped when a car thief doesn't realize she's in the car.  She forms an unlikely friendship with her kidnapper) is interesting, other than the unlikely friendship part, which seriously, I'm getting a little tired of.  I feel like I've read that before a few times this year... (Stolen?)

The story itself was good.  I was intrigued, I liked the characters, and I wanted to know what happened.  I even hurried home from work to finish it on my lunch break.  The problem I had with the writing was that it was completely unbelievable.  I'm very good at suspending my disbelief, if that's what a book calls for.  You don't have to scientifically prove time travel is possible for me to enjoy your book.  I have what I like to think of as the MST3K motto for my viewing and reading entertainment: "If you're wondering how he eats and breathes and other science facts, repeat to yourself, 'it's just a show; I should really just relax'". 

But when you're writing a contemporary novel set in the real world, I need to be able to believe that the characters could actually exist.  And I just couldn't in this one.  For example: one "character" is a dog that has been terribly abused and mistreated for its entire life.  It has been trained to be mean and guard the home.  In a matter of seconds a character is able to befriend the dog by giving it a treat.I know this doesn't sound major, but I don't want to be guilty of spoiling.  The other examples are all pretty central to the story.

All of that negativity to say that I actually liked this book as I was reading it.  I recommend it for younger teens and for anyone looking for a short, entertaining story.  Given that the recommended age is 12+, I can see this being a good middle grade read (although honestly, who am I to say that because I definitely don't read MG).  I don't recommend it for someone who is reading with writing as a craft in mind.  This book just doesn't demonstrate that.  It's a great idea and a decent effort, but I wouldn't suggest it as an example of a well-written YA novel.  I'd compare it to very generic YA fiction from my teen days like The Face on the Milk Carton or anything by Lurlene McDaniel.  That said, I would probably give her another try, based on the originality of most of the plot (seriously, the unlikely "friendship" theme is done). 

Thank you to the publisher, Henry Holt/Christy Ottaviano Books, and to the author, April Henry, for sending me a review copy!

4 comments:

  1. Great review.

    You know I completely agree with believing in a story or believing it could really happen or with Paranormal it could 'possibly' be true, I so get that comment.

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  2. Great review Julie!

    I plan on reading the copy you let me borrow after I finish a couple other books and I'm interested to see if I'll feel the same way.

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  3. Great review. I was really excited about reading this, but I think I'll try Stolen first.

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  4. This is another one that I have an ARC of in Mt. TBR. I agree with you in that I have to actually believe that the characters could exist in the "real world". That's why some dialog in novels really irritates me. It can be so stiff and formal. People do not talk like that in real life!! I think that's one of my pet peeves! LOL

    Thanks for the review - I'm looking forward to this one.

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