“The world does not need more Christian literature. What it needs is more Christians writing good literature.” – C.S. Lewis
While it is great Christian literature, I would not say that Captives, by Jill Williamson can compete with great contemporary YA dystopian novels, like Divergent by Veronica Roth, Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi, or Partials by Dan Wells.
A very short one-sentence summary (which I sometimes make my students do): The people of the technologically-advanced Safe Lands cannot reproduce healthy children, so they kidnap the villagers of Glenrock in order to force them to have babies for them, forcing the villagers to make some difficult decisions and confront some character flaws in themselves.
I’ll begin with the parts I did like:
-The book did a good job of illustrating what a society obsessed with hedonism would look like. The constant partying, the obsession with style, and the chasing of everything pleasurable was well-told. The PVs with the Stims were a nice touch.
-I thought some of the technologies in the Safe Lands were very creative. The programmable tattoos sound awesome (as in, if that technology existed, I think I’d try it out.)
-The author did a good job of writing a variety of characters. I appreciated that there were sympathetic characters amongst both the people of Glenrock and the Safe Lands. There were also characters with serious personal flaws on both sides. Omar, from Glenrock, betrays his village and gets entrapped by the Safe Lands lifestyle, while Ciddah from the Safe Lands seems like a smart, conscientious, and genuine person. Jordan, from Glenrock, is just annoying with his complete inability to control his temper.
-Towards the end of the book, when Levi begins to try to break everyone out, I finally got pulled into the book. It was an interesting and intricate escape plan, and I appreciated the action.
Problems I had with the book:
-It’s not just in this book, but it’s kind of a pet peeve of mine – in so many post-apocalyptic worlds, all the women revert to wearing skirts. Why??? Why would women just suddenly start wearing skirts again? Maybe it helps create an image of a simpler time. I don’t know.
-The Safe Lands has all kinds of technology, but can’t get “donations” from the healthy men without their consent…? We have the technology to do this now. If the people of the Safe Lands were really that desperate for babies, were okay with kidnapping people, and were willing to inseminate teenage girls, why would they not be willing to take what they needed from the men?
-The book seemed to simplify some of the reactions of the characters. I feel like all of the characters from Glenrock, even Omar, got over the slaughter of their whole village a little quickly. All of the girls, except Naomi, seemed to integrate into their new roles almost immediately. While they did stage one escape attempt, they could have been much more resistant, or even just upset, by what was going on. I wanted the story from Naomi’s point of view, because she was feisty and awesome.
-This was the biggest one: everyone in this story was obsessed with marriage and family. I teach teenagers, so I know that they can be focused on “finding the one.” But they DO have other interests in life. I feel like Mason was the only character in this book who showed the least bit of interest in anything other than getting married. Even the adults in this book (Mason, Levi, and Omar’s father, for example) were focused on making matches for the young people. After their village is slaughtered, and they are kidnapped, everyone is still focused on getting married, or who likes whom. It was a bit overwhelming.
Maybe I am being overly critical. It seems like a lot of people really liked the book. I just did not enjoy it as much as other books of the same genre that I have been reading recently.
*** In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.
For other reviews, check out these bloggers:Julie Bihn
Thomas Fletcher Booher
Morgan L. Busse
Emma or Audrey Engel
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Asha Marie Pena