Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Book Review: Captive

Captive by A.J. Grainger

Publishing date: 31 Jan 2015

Verdict: 3 Stars

Recommend: Well, it's an alright YA read.

Robyn's dad is the British prime minister, and someone wants him dead. Now Robyn is being held captive - but who is really at fault?

The short pitch is the most accurate. I’ve read longer pitches which say things like ‘A list celebrity’ and ‘global corruption’... I know a blurb is meant to sell a book, but it’s always funny when you read the pitch after the novel and find that things just don’t match up. I would have enjoyed this novel a little more if I had just read that little short snippet. Either way, this is still an okay young adult thriller.

Robyn is a strong character. She may get held captive but she fights... in real life, that’s a risky game to play, but a character with a bit of umph is far more interesting than one who sits back and waits for the rescue.

My general view of it is that it felt fresh and gritty at times, cliché and fluffy at other. When that’s all balanced out, three stars felt fair.

Every so often a really creative metaphor would crop up which reminded me that this might by A.J. Grainger first novel, but she is by no means an amateur writer. Descriptions were often beautiful and vivid, but further into the book I found repetition of ideas. For example, I believe there were three instances of people’s legs forgetting what legs can do – a trick you can only really use once. A few metaphors sounded odd to me and some chapters were just written better than others. In particular, some of the discussions between the characters tended to waffle on; I guess that’s to help everyone understand clearly what’s going on, but repetition gets a bit tiring.

You can tell just from the fact it’s a young adult novel that there would be a bit of Stockholm Syndrome going on, and it only took a few chapters to get there. I enjoyed the connection between Robyn and her green-eyed kidnapper, but strangely found myself rooting for them to just be friends. The connection they shared felt situational – of course you’ll like a nice captor more than once that abuses you – but love? It felt somewhat contrived at times. I think young adult writers should appreciate that a strong connection between a female and male character doesn’t always need to end in romance. There’s more to a story than love, and this novel did a good job in showing that for the most part.

There’s a strong theme of owning your mistakes. One sole action does not define us, but how we handle it and what we do when similar opportunities come at our door. On this side of things, I really liked the ending. I like the message it portrays. It matched my values well, and offers a different message than most novels on the young adult market.

Unfortunately, the other part of the ending was a bit of a reader pleaser, except I felt like it missed the mark entirely. I felt at times that this was a novel written by someone who had the audience in mind, rather than staying true to the characters, plot, and message.

This is a strong three stars from me. This book is a good read. I personally wasn’t blown away by it. I wasn’t interested by the politics (which felt a bit generic), but much more thrilled by the action, the mix of tension between her and her different captives, the unravelling family life portrayed through the use of flashbacks. The plot definitely thickens as you read on – if only the characters didn’t goo up and had a bit more to them then I’d be able to rate it a lot higher.