Ms. Williamson has brought to live an entirely new world, with entire orders and codes of its own. I was whisked away to Glenrock and then Safe Lands, I loved the way that she showed in various ways the many contrasts between the two civilizations, in not only landscape, but in way of life, and moral codes.
The story was told from various viewpoints, and usually that isn't my thing, but this time I think that it truly enhanced the story showing the strange new world that they had stepped into from each person's perspective.
I think that my favorite character was Mason, because he was quick-witted, careful, and always thinking not just going along with what was going on and wisely hiding his thoughts.
I really loved the brilliance of this plot, and how it focuses on finding absolute truth in a clouded world.
Overall, this book was an adventure that swept me to a different time and place, and all from the safety of my own home! I'll be honest and tell you right now that I don't want to visit Safe Lands anytime soon! But this book was a well written adventure, and I look forward to seeing how the epic unfolds in future books. You won't want to miss it!
I received this book from the author and the publisher in return for an honest review! Thank you!
In the village of Glenrock, during the year 2088, life is fairly simple, almost old-fashioned. But the lives of three brothers and their family and friends are about to change. The eldest, Levi, is handsome and a natural leader who is about to be married to his one, true love, Jemma. The middle child, Mason, is practical, smart, and dreams of being a doctor, much to his father's chagrin. And the youngest, Omar, is an artistic, rebellious soul who is restless under his father's constant disapproval, which leads him to make a heart-breaking choice. When those in Glenrock are taken captive and brought to the Safe Lands--a modern, futuristic society enclosed by formidable walls and security--the brothers are torn apart, but their individual journeys just might make it possible to bring those who survived back together again.
With so many dystopian stories flooding the fiction scene, Captives by Jill Williamson stands out with its fresh take on the ancient tale of the Israelites taken captive by the Babylonians. The first part of the book rolled along steadily with character and world building taking the forefront. And what a world! It was colorful, compelling, and jumped straight off the page. The second half though is when I felt the story really pick up speed as the action grew more intense. I was flipping pages to see what would happen next until I suddenly realized I was at the end.
Captives explores delicate subject matter through the characters facing tough situations and makes one contemplate seriously about the future of our society. Even though the topics are serious, there are still moments in the book that make me smile, especially the Princess Bride quotes interspersed throughout. Which leads me to end this review with a quote--just for fun--from the Princess Bride that I feel will compliment Captives very nicely (though the giant and monsters bit depends on your point of view ;) ).
"The Grandson: A book?...Has it got any sports in it?
Grandpa: Are you kidding? Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles...
The Grandson: Doesn't sound too bad. I'll try to stay awake.
Grandpa: Oh, well, thank you very much, very nice of you.
Your vote of confidence is overwhelming."
Ages: 15 and up
Publication Date: 2013
*I would like to thank the author and publisher for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
It's the year 2088, and America has destroyed itself. Small villages remain, where many of the villagers cling to an "outdated" religion (Christianity). Then there's the Safe Lands - a place where everyone is encouraged to "find pleasure in life!" Wild parties, elaborate clothes, and exciting scientific advances are Hallmarks of this seemingly utopic city. Except_everyone is slowly dying. A plague has infected the city, and not even the most colorful tattoos can hide the fact that the Safe Lands isn't so safe. The people bring in outsiders from the villages who aren't infected by the plague for purposes of creating healthy citizens to populate the city.
However, not all who enter the Safe Lands are enamored by its flamboyant lifestyle.
My Favorite Parts:
Captives is a page-turner; there's always something to keep you reading. I was blown away by the elaborate story world Jill Williamson created. It's obviously fiction, but there's just enough "real" woven throughout that it's not impossible to imagine some of the events actually happening. And that's frightening.
One of the things I love most about the book is that Jill isn't afraid to push her characters to their limits. I would read one part of the story and say, "Surely he wouldn't go so far_" and then the character would go so far_and beyond. There are no easy outs for the characters. It's gripping.
Captives is based off the first chapter of Daniel in the Bible. The messages presented in this book are really solid, but not preachy. Often, I'll read a book and it'll come so close to having one of those "WOW" moments, only to fall a little short. Captives doesn't do that. It'll spark some good discussion about God's way vs. the world's way. It clearly shows how, although earthly pleasures may be fun for a while, our sin can ultimately destroy us.
My Least Favorite Parts:
It's book #1 in a trilogy, which means there's much more to come. There I was, happily reading along, assuming I had at least one more chapter to enjoy, when all of a sudden_BOOM. It ended. It was frustrating because it was just. so. intriguing. My sister had the privilege of hearing me bemoan the ending of the book for a while. Needless to say, I can't wait for Book 2.
The Safe Lands is full of immorality, meaning some parts of the story are a little hard to swallow. However, although some of the activities are described in detail (for example: "vaping" - their form of smoking/drug use, and surrogacy procedures involving the unaffected outsiders as a means of prolonging the race), they're handled really well.
Believe it or not, I do read YA books that aren't targeted specifically at teen girls. This is one such example. Not only is the majority of the story told from guys' perspectives (with a really great, authentic voice), it's a story guys will definitely enjoy. I highly recommend this book for your summer reading list. Even though the people in the Safe Lands don't have a moral code, there's no profanity in the book. I do recommend this book for older teens, though, due to some of the things I previously mentioned.
Overall, it's an engaging story that brings home some strong themes while keeping you reading late into the night (or early morning hours). This is one book you don't want to miss!
This is a great dystopian. After they all entered the Safe Lands, I was having a hard time putting the book down. I felt what was happening, imagining my own family in this situation. Shaylinn was truly brave in the face of what happened to her. This book also deals with a lot a real situations, dealing with drugs and relationships (Some might not be understood or appropriate for younger children though mature teens should be able to handle it as most are inferred and not show. I actually think that teens should read something like this to get a sense of how choices affect lives, without getting too graphic).
At first, I did not like a lot of the characters. They treated each other poorly and could be self centered. However, I liked the changes that came over them as they learned to appreciate each other. Jill did an amazing job of showing characters personalities from different perspectives (To Levi, Elder Justin was a loving if harsh father while to Omar he was a cruel father). I think it gave a great view of real life and sibling revelries.
And the Cliff Hanger!! I need to know what happens. The cliff hanger left me wanting more without disappointing me.
I would have given five stars if somethings had been explained. Like how the world had advanced and fallen apart so much by 2088. It does not seem like enough time for every value to be flipped on its head.
Mason, the one who doesn't quite fit in. Omar, the one who thinks everyone hates him. Levi, the one with the secret that could cost him everything.
These three brothers tugged me into the story from the beginning. Even when the sciency stuff had my brain spinning (It's probably because of all the historical fiction I read that I was having that reaction!), I kept reading because these three guys have such a complicated relationship with one another -- and suddenly they're plopped in the middle of the biggest danger they have ever faced.
I've said it before, but Jill WIlliamson really does a slam-dunk job with voice. These guys really sound like guys (I say this with a straight face). It's fascinating watching them adjust to life in this place that is so different from the one in which they grew up. I was just as drawn in and nauseated at the Safe Lands reality as they were (except, of course, for Omar, who throws himself into everything to escape what he's done).
One of the sweetest things about the story for me was Levi's courage. Left alone in his village after everyone is abducted? The chances of him sneaking into the Safe Lands slim to none and only slightly higher than his desire to spirit everyone out of the Safe Lands again? It doesn't matter that the situation looks completely hopeless. He tries anyway. (Whether he succeeds or not I'll leave to you to find out.)
And may I congratulate Jill for making nothing easy? I was expecting a quick fix for at least one of the super-dangerous circumstances, but not once did she settle for giving her characters an easy way out. This kept me reading.
What I Didn't Like As Much
What almost made me stop reading was the horror of it all. The Safe Lands is not all it's cracked up to be, as Levi, Omar, and the others soon discover. This society glitters, but it truly is a "gilded cage," as Mason says. The Safe Lands seems to offer everything one could ever want--and often that translates into drugs and immoral living.
Jill does a great job of tactfully portraying the lifestyle, but I still wanted to wince at a few sections. I could have done without some of the descriptions of vaping (high-tech smoking), but maybe that's the point? To show how horribly wrong what seems so outwardly wonderful really is?
Why I Recommend This Book
Because of the lifestyle choices made by certain characters and the (delicately written) procedure some of the women are expected to undergo, I would not recommend this book for readers younger than 16. Fans of The Hunger Games and Divergent, however, will want to put Captives on their to-read list. Not only is it Dystopian (complete with almost Doctor-Who-ish science), but it's a story chock-full of characters who have their own goals and voices.
And the ending? I won't give it away, but it just awesome. I look forward to Book Two!