Joint review with Smash: http://onabookbender.com/2012/05/25/joint-review-with-smashattackash-stolen-by-lucy-christopher/Amanda: I’m not even sure how I want to rate Stolen. It could range anywhere from a 3.5 to a 5.Smash: I don’t usually rate books anymore, but I would give Stolen a 5 because of the sheer ability to suck me in and spit me out. I didn’t want to put it down, and I felt everything Gemma felt.Amanda: Usually I rate on an enjoyment scale, but this isn’t a book that you enjoy. You experience. It’s an important experience to have, and it is one of those books that you will continue to think about and it will continue to haunt you long after you finish it. To me, that’s a 5. But on my enjoyment scale, probably more like a 3.5. I’m tempted to stick with the 5, though.Smash: Be a rebel. I think this story is worthy of a 5. It is not a fun story to experience, but it is one that will deafen you with its emotion.Amanda: I think I got mind fucked. I am quite sure that I had every emotion that Gemma had throughout this book, and I honestly still don’t know what to think or feel about this book — and Ty.Smash: I’m always up for a good mind fuck. Psychological stories are some of my favorite to read. This was different, for me. It felt more personal. It was more personal. Much like Gemma, I am left feeling hella confused and emotional. This is a sign of good writing, methinks.Amanda: Not just good writing, but a good understanding of all the psychological workings of Ty and Gemma.Smash: My brain was having a field day reading this. I much enjoyed diagnosing and trying to figure out the causes of actions, how both characters were feeling, etc. I think we saw Erotomania, PTSD, Attachment disorder, Psychosis, Dissociation, Stockholm Syndrome, and bits and pieces of so many other psychological terrors.Amanda: I think I actually had Stockholm Syndrome, right along with Gemma. Every time I started thinking about it actually maybe working out in some way, I’d be jerked back with the realization that No! He had kidnapped her. There was no way it could end positively, especially since it was obvious that Ty wasn’t exactly completely sane.Smash: Completely agree. I think the author’s ability to mess with our psyche in this fashion was pretty brilliant. I am still reeling from it. I was a blubbering fool. I understand both sides, completely. I get it. I felt it. And it’s damn scary. When the author started to share Ty’s personal experiences as he tells them to Gemma, I knew we were in for a roller coaster ride of emotions. The minute she introduced his tragic experiences is the minute we began to feel pity or compassion or something. That’s how it all starts.Amanda: And I think that is the crux of why this book is so confusing and emotional. We understand Ty. We get why he is the way he is. There is no way he could have escaped his experiences without some kind of scar. But what he did is so incredibly wrong and scary. It’s hard to reconcile these two sides of him.Smash: Throughout the book we hear memories and moments about his attachment to Gemma, how he discovered her, what she meant to him very early on. Those memories were frightening from the obsessive stalker side of the spectrum, but my heart wept for him in those memories. He was so damaged and so badly needed someone to grasp to.Amanda: How much do you think Ty was manipulating Gemma’s impressions of her life, and how much was he telling the truth? What did her parents really say? Did he really save her that one night?Smash: And that, is the mindfuckery of manipulation. If his experiences were true, I would say manipulation definitely had a major role in this game. And I both love and hate that I felt such sadness for him. I have experience with this stuff in real life, and it isn’t fun to have your emotions toyed with. I’m pretty sure that Ty suffered from some sort of attachment issue, and with that comes lots of nice, fun psychological issues. Ones that keep you from feeling pain, emotion, remorse, regret. Manipulation becomes second-nature for survival. You cannot connect to other humans. But he latched on to Gemma.Amanda: There were so many similarities between Gemma and the camel. How Ty treated both of them. No?Smash: Yes. I honestly think he would not hurt her, though his anger reared its ugly head a time or two. He treated the camel with the same calm, caring demeanor. I think it was partly honest and partly manipulation of Gemma. To see him as Ty and not her kidnapper.Amanda: Except those two are not, nor ever will be, separable. I wonder how much of the manipulation was conscious action.Smash: Honestly, I think a lot of manipulation by people with mental health issues is unconscious. I think their brain has learned to do things that way in order to survive. But, I do think there is purposeful manipulation, as well. I had a few adolescent cases where I saw this come into play often.Amanda: It’s the unconscious manipulation that muddies the water, I think. If it was all completely conscious, it would be easy to hate Ty. Very easy.Smash: And yet, we will never know. The story leaves you confused and raw and violated. Ty entered into our minds, manipulated us.Amanda: I think that’s what is so brilliant about the style of this book. The entire thing is a letter, written by Gemma, to Ty. The use of “you” connected us to the story and thrust us into the situation, right along with Gemma.Smash: And don’t forget the use of “I.” Eventually, it’s the reader and Ty…Gemma is still there, but the reader has joined her.Amanda: Now you’re just getting me all creeped out again. Delightfully creepy. I stand by that description.Smash: And a great description it is.Amanda: It makes you wonder what’s out there. Stalking you. Like giraffe shifters.