Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Book Review [Captives]

Captives 
[The Safe Lands #1]
Jill Williamson

Publisher:  Zondervan
Genre:  YA
Released:  2013

[Goodreads]
One choice could destroy them all.

When eighteen-year-old Levi returned from Denver City with his latest scavenged finds, he never imagined he’d find his village of Glenrock decimated, loved ones killed, and many—including his fiancée, Jem—taken captive. Now alone, Levi is determined to rescue what remains of his people, even if it means entering the Safe Lands, a walled city that seems anything but safe.

Omar knows he betrayed his brother by sending him away, but helping the enforcers was necessary. Living off the land and clinging to an outdated religion holds his village back. The Safe Lands has protected people since the plague decimated the world generations ago … and its rulers have promised power and wealth beyond Omar’s dreams.

Meanwhile, their brother Mason has been granted a position inside the Safe Lands, and may be able to use his captivity to save not only the people of his village, but also possibly find a cure for the virus that threatens everyone within the Safe Lands’ walls. Will Mason uncover the truth hidden behind the Safe Lands’ façade before it’s too late?


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WARNING: Possible Spoilers

Okay.  Maybe I am simply worn out and tired of the dystopian/futuristic novels that are so popular right now.  Most likely due to the Hunger Games, I guess.  Ah well, either way, I did not enjoy this book as much as I thought I would.  The above description is vague, to say the least, as to the whole plot of this story.  I was blown away by the unexpected, slightly graphic descriptions of some scenes.  And would therefore recommend this book to OLDER readers only.  For example, 18 and up.  Heheh. . . This is merely my opinion, folks.  Bear with me.  =]

[The Basics]
As to the story in general, I have one word:  CREATIVE.  The world-building and set-up was so very interesting and purely one-of-a-kind.  I loved the character's various personalities and differing moods.  There was more than a few times I laughed to myself at some of the dialogue.  I love that in a story.  :D

Captives centers on three brothers of the tribe of Elias.  Levi, the eldest, Mason, and Omar.  They are outsiders, living in their village of Glenrock outside the confines of the Safe Lands, which we soon learn is an enormous compound built specifically to protect its citizens.  Instead, it is, in the words of Mason, "a gilded cage."  A city filled with excitement, fun, and anything and everything you could possibly need to "Find pleasure in life." (The Safe Land motto.)  But still, it is a cage.  And what is so incredible is that the Safe Landers are blind to that fact.  Well, some.

Betrayed by one of their own, the people of Glenrock are captured, some killed, and taken to the compound where the women will serve terms as surrogates in the Harem (sounds bad, but it's more like a beauty spa and beach condo all in one--at least, that's what I imagined...) and the men tasked to odd jobs about the city, welcome to live peacefully as long as they give willingly to the Donation Center.  Yes, you can probably guess what that is.  

Thanks to a Great Pandemic many years ago, the population of the Safe Lands suffers from a disease known as the thin plague.  This affects their immune system and causes their skin to discolor and flake.  All of the people hide this illness well, thanks to their futuristic technology and a good deal of paint.  The disease causes other problems as well, and child-bearing is nigh impossible due to its affects.  So, what is the obvious solution?  Go and gather uninfected outsiders to save their population.  And if they do not come willingly, take them by force, as is the case of Glenrock.  

The women, between the ages of 14 to late thirties, as mentioned above, are taken to the Harem, where they are pampered and treated as queens.  Which, in a sense, they are.  To the nationals of the compound, they are the hope of the future, with the purpose of providing healthy, uninfected children.  To do this, they go through a procedure and given an artificial embryonic implants--another thank you to the men of the Donation Center.

[Other Negatives]
Along with these wicked wrongs, people drink exotic drinks in exotic bars, get high on "vaporizers" (similar to cigarettes, but are metal tubes that emit whatever color smoke you wish and come in various "flavors"), "pair up" (I don't need to explain that one, I hope), and visit numerous "dance" clubs, where women (and men) are scantily clad.  Everything that SHOULD set off common sense alarm bells in your brain, but are known as "pleasure" to the people of the Safe Lands.  Sadly, they don't know any different. 

[Spiritual Content]
If this was just another secular novel that told tales of suffering, love, and war with no hope of rescue, then I would gladly throw it away.  But the love of Christ is seen in its pages.  Even in a cage, God can be found.  Hope can spring from the actions of the most unlikely person, as well.  Both Levi and Mason understand that and their prayers and actions are evidence of their faith.

[Violence]
A good deal of this.  People are beaten, shot, stabbed, stunned, and cut.  

[Love-y Content]
Lots of kissing, my friends.  Intimate lip-locking.  Both from married couples and those that are definitely NOT married.  Couples "pair up" for the night. . . 

I gotta say, this was the most graphic YA novel I've read.

[Conclusion]
Although I did not enjoy this story as much as I'd hoped, it was a fascinating and intriguing tale.  Still, I would definitely recommend it ONLY to older readers due to much of the content.  Also, just because my review isn't the greatest, doesn't mean you should pass on a book.  Everyone has different tastes.  So, if you like the futuristic, dystopian novels, have at it!  Here's a more positive review from Jillian's (albeit brief) on Goodreads.  Please don't just take my word for it!

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Recommended ages:  18+  
(Again, this is my opinion, folks.)


Note:  I was provided a copy of this novel, thanks to Booksneeze.com, for my honest review.

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1 comment:

Jill Stanish said...

I appreciated your honesty; I agree this is a book for an older audience. Honestly, I felt like there was a bit too much attention drawn to the immoral behavior and I felt as though those professing to be Christians could have been a bit firmer in their faith.