Saturday, December 11, 2010
Girl, Stolen by April Henry
Henry Holt and Co., 2010
Sixteen year-old Cheyenne Wilder is sleeping in the back of a car while her mom fills her prescription at the pharmacy. Before Cheyenne realizes what's happening, their car is being stolen—with her inside! Griffin hadn’t meant to kidnap Cheyenne, all he needed to do was steal a car for the others. But once Griffin's dad finds out that Cheyenne’s father is the president of a powerful corporation, everything changes—now there’s a reason to keep her. What Griffin doesn’t know is that Cheyenne is not only sick with pneumonia, she is blind. How will Cheyenne survive this nightmare, and if she does, at what price? (courtesy of Goodreads)
For someone who is not a big thriller person, I loved Girl, Stolen. It ranks as one of my favorite reads for 2010. The characters were both believable and likeable, and the plot kept me flipping the pages in nervous anticipation.
Cheyenne Wilder is in the wrong place at the wrong time. Griffin sees the key's in her stepmother's fancy Cadillac SUV and, seizing opportunity, steals it. He is almost as horrified as Cheyenne when he realizes that she's in the backseat. He doesn't know what to do, but figures he'll keep Cheyenne until he can get his dad's advice. When he and Cheyenne get home, things grow bigger and more dangerous. Cheyenne is the daughter of Nike's president. Now, this very wealthy girl is an asset instead of a liability. Griffin's dad and henchmen see Cheyenne as a bargaining chip and don't really care about her safety.
The book shifts between the points of view of Griffin and Cheyenne. I loved them both. Cheyenne is a realistic character. As a blind person, she uses her senses in ways that I can't relate to, but she seemed entirely believable and fascinating. She is brave without having the bravado that a person probably wouldn't have in such a situation. Her terror, determination, and even her caring side is thoroughly described in the book. I also loved the use of flashbacks to establish how she became and then adjusted to being blind.
Griffin too is a fabulous character. He is technically the bad guy, but really he is just a petty criminal, a cog in his father's crime wheel. He has no desire to hurt Cheyenne - in fact, he wants to help her - but feels helpless. Through flashbacks, we learn more about his history and how he and his father came to have such an awful life. You just feel more sympathy for him as the book goes on.
I like how the relationship between Griffin and Cheyenne develops. Although the reader is in full sympathy with Griffin, since we're reading things from his perspective, Cheyenne is not. She recognizes that he's not awful, but definitely does not trust him. This seems much more real than creating some kind of Stockholm romance between the two.
I don't know if there's anything about the book that I really didn't like. Perhaps my one qualm was that Griffin felt almost too young and innocent. His age is never stated, but I assumed he was 16 or 17. Other than the fact that he could drive, smoked, and dropped out of school, he seemed very young - maybe 13 or 14. But that could also be the product of being a child who was too sheltered (his world was limited to the criminal doings of his father). One could also argue that Griffin's father and henchmen were cardboard villains - too evil and/or stupid - but I was so interested in the development of Griffin and Cheyenne's characters, that I didn't care much about them.
The plot moved smoothly as Cheyenne was imprisoned in Griffin's house. The big climax was definitely a page turner. There were more twists and turns than I could have envisioned. I loved that the solution I expected wasn't exactly the solution I got. And there were lots of crafty detours along the way.
If you want a thriller that feels real without being too disturbing and is fraught with danger and suspense, Girl, Stolen is for you. If you like interesting characters who you really want to root for, Girl, Stolen is for you.
Rating: 4.5 / 5