Review: Girl, Stolen

Review: Girl, StolenGirl, Stolen by April Henry
Published by Walker Books on February 2, 2012
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 219
Format: Paperback
Source: Won

Sixteen-year-old Cheyenne Wilder is sleeping in the back of a car while her mom fills her prescription for antibiotics. Before Cheyenne realizes what's happening, their car is being stolen. Griffin hadn't meant to kidnap Cheyenne, but once his dad finds out that Cheyenne's father is the president of a powerful corporation, everything changes--now there's a reason to keep her. How will Cheyenne survive this nightmare? Because she's not only sick with pneumonia--she's also blind.

First Sentence: “Cheyenne heard the car door open.”

In reading Girl, Stolen, I was reminded of two bits of pop culture: Excess Baggage and Wait Until Dark. The first film, a pretty terrible movie starring Alicia Silverstone and Benicio Del Toro, tells the story of a poor little rich girl who, in an effort to get daddy’s attention, fakes a kidnapping by locking herself in a car’s trunk, only to have that car actually stolen. Then she cooks up a romance and a scheme with her accidental captor. Wait Until Dark, quite differently focuses on a blind woman, played by Audrey Hepburn who some thugs suspect of having a doll stuffed with drugs. She has to try to escape this situation with her life. Put these two together and you’ve sort of got Girl, Stolen.

Of course, comparing a book to other stories really limits it, so I want to stress that there’s more going on here; in making these comparisons, I do not intend to imply that Henry’s story is entirely derivative by any means. Henry did a marvelous job telling this story, keeping everything suspenseful and scary, but not venturing into melodramatic territory in the slightest. She does not try to make anything more difficult than it already is for the sake of extra drama.

So much YA that I’ve read, usually in the paranormal genre, centers on a heroine, gifted with supernatural powers that enable her to do absolutely anything, yet she still ends up relying on other people to save her. Your powers or your weaknesses are only what you allow them to be. Cheyenne has been blind since an accident three years ago damaged her brain, leaving her with functioning eyes but a mind unable to read the messages. Now almost entirely blind, she relies on her cane or her seeing eye dog, Phantom.

On the day in question, Cheyenne’s step-mom convinced Cheyenne the dog should stay home, since they were not going very far. While her step-mother went into the pharmacy to get the antibiotics to treat Cheyenne’s pneumonia, Cheyenne rested in the backseat. Then the car got stolen. Griffin had no idea she was in the car, but, once he got home to his piece of shit father, she becomes even more useful to them than the jacked Escalade. Cheyenne’s father runs Nike corporation, and she can be ransomed for a lot of money.

In this situation, I cannot imagine I would be capable of anything other than some snarky comebacks and some seriously menacing death glares. Cheyenne, sick with pneumonia, running a fever, tiny, and blind never stops planning escapes. She is such an incredibly powerful character, able to make the best of any situation, and to use her strengths to best advantage. Where some heroines have endless amounts of power and don’t use it, Cheyenne makes the most out of everything she has. I respect her so much, and Henry for writing a heroine with a disability and not making her pitiable, but a figure of strength.

Girl, Stolen weighs in at only 220 pages, but packs an emotional punch. Dark, scary, and investigating whether Griffin is a redeemable figure, I was sucked into this novel and not let go until I finished the last page. If you’re tired of young adult fiction focused on romance and whiny heroines, Girl, Stolen is the perfect break.

Favorite Quote:
“What she was left with was a blurred sliver of color and shapes that usually was more distracting than helpful. Now, if she wanted to see anything at all, she had to turn her head away from it. It seemed like a metaphor, but Cheyenne didn’t know for what.”

28 responses to “Review: Girl, Stolen”

  1. Henry Circle says:

    I’d love to read an action book from a blind girl’s point of view. That’s different. It’s well-know that I love Different!

  2. Wow, Cheyenne sounds like a powerful character despite her obvious challenges. This sounds gripping, thanks for sharing it!

  3. This sounds really good! I’ve never heard of it before But I think I would like Cheyanne, she sounds pretty kick ass. And dude, I LOVED Excess Baggage! I have this unusual infatuation Benicio Del Toro (it’s not Banderas in it) he plays a creepy douchebag soooo good!

  4. Kayla Beck says:

    This almost sounds like something that I would read. (You, madam, are an excellent reviewer to be able to tempt me.) However, I will need to have someone to spoil the end for me first. I’ve realized that heavy suspense is something I don’t much care for either. 😛

  5. I’m not sure if I’ll particularly enjoy this one (though I haven’t really given many kidnapping stories a chance, if any, so I might give this one a shot eventually), but DAMN that concept is horrifying. I can’t even imagine being blind – let alone being kidnapped blind. That’s just scary. AND she has pneumonia. Evil author. Evil. But I’m really glad to hear that Cheyenne is such a powerful character and has many attempts at escaping even with her disability. I might try this one out when I get sick of whiny YA heroines mooching off their heroes for help, though I’m pretty sure reading this will only put me in a deep depression for a few days.

    *shrugs* Oh well.

    • Stephanie says:

      I actually thought it was a fairly uplifting book–it’s definitely a dark situation, but I don’t think it would leave you too depressed, if you want to try it…

    • Christina says:

      Henry definitely put her through the ringer. She did such an amazing job with it though. She doesn’t pity Cheyenne at all. Cheyenne could kick the ass of so many of those whiny heroines.

      I do think it was pretty uplifting for the subject matter.

  6. Renae says:

    It’s always nice to hear that an author doesn’t go overboard with an already intense storyline. I feel like that happens a lot, especially in certain subcultures of YA. It’s almost as if an author feels s/he needs to make things as overstated as possible in order to make the most hard-hitting story possible. Of course, that tends to backfire; personally, I think the best book is the one that subtly proves it point. Glad that it seems April Henry is of the same mindset.

    Plus, Cheyenne really sounds like a cool girl. It would be really easy for her to have fallen into the “tiny, disabled girl in need of rescuing” idea, but it sounds like that’s definitely not the case.

    • Christina says:

      Exactly! That drives me crazy. They’ll layer drama on top of drama, when really a little goes a long way. If you add in too much, it loses all impact because it enters hilariously unlikely territory. The bad needs to be balanced with the good.

      Cheyenne really impressed me!

  7. Stephanie says:

    I really loved this book for the same reasons you did! The last sentence made me a little mad, though…but I think that’s just personal preference!

  8. Bookworm1858 says:

    I really liked this book especially with Cheyenne grappling with her blindness and getting along so well. Griffin’s redemption arc was thrilling!

  9. perla says:

    I loooved this book. Transitioning from this book to Stolen by Lucy Christopher was like getting punched in the jaw, then getting hit by a building. Both have such convoluted feeling towards their kidnappers, and I wonder what it says about me that I really wanted a sequel to this book with lots and lots of Griffin. But seriously, what could possibly happen in book two besides a bunch of hot kissing? Ok, so maybe I will beg April Henry for a book two or a short story.

    • Christina says:

      Oh wow, that would be a rough transition. I’ve heard Breakaway is like that too.

      Bahaha, I’m undecided on whether I would want a bunch of hot kissing in the sequel. :/

  10. Kat Balcombe says:

    I haven’t heard of this one before, but it sounds really good. And sometimes the books with less pages are even better because they are so intense! I liked Henry’s When She Disappeared, so I’m definitely going to keep my eye out for this one!

  11. Tricia C. says:

    I really enjoyed this book and thought the characters were very well portrayed. My seventh graders have loved it too. In fact, it’s gone through so many of them that I’ve lost track of it. I need to figure out who still has it and get it circulating again.

  12. I haven’t seen this book before but I it reminds me of Stolen: A Letter for my Captor. If I get I chance I’ll read this for sure :)= Great review 🙂

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