September 10, 2012

It Could Go Either Way

Picture this: Girl is alone at airport before heading to foreign country. Girl sees Boy and is intrigued by his eyes and his accent. Boy is friendly and eager to make Girl's acquaintance. Girl is hesitant at first, but Boy seems harmless and genuinely nice, so she caves.

"There are so many ways it could have all turned out differently."

Meet "Boy":
Oliver from The Statistical Probability of Love At First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

Oh, but wait. You also need to meet another "Boy":
Ty from Stolen by Lucy Christopher


The opening paragraph applies to both "Boys"; Oliver gives you the warm fuzzies, while Ty gives you chills...and a whole multitude of other confusing feelings. The funny thing is, that quote above comes from the very first line of The Statistical Probability of Love At First Sight. After reading Stolen, I have to agree: It really could have turned out differently. Worse, actually. Hadley could just have easily found herself in Gemma's shoes. Scary thought. Or Gemma could have found a sweetheart.

Statistical Probability is one of my favourite reads of 2012, but after reading Stolen, I can't help comparing the two stories in my mind. I wonder if I'll ever be able to read the former without thinking about the latter. It's kind of like a dark cloud over this whole notion of airport romance. And then, of course, my mind takes it a step further and I'm thinking about the movie Taken with Liam Neeson & Maggie Grace, and how all things considered Gemma was lucky, and Hadley more so.

Statistical Probability is a sweet love story, while Stolen is a scary reality check.


Here's the summary from the back of Stolen :

That last line there? I initially read it and thought, "What the—?!" But after reading the book, I can honestly say there's a raging case of Stockholm syndrome here...and it's not just Gemma struggling with it. I didn't love this whole book*, and I particularly didn't love the creeped out feeling it gave me at times (mostly when I was imagining this kind of thing actually happening). The middle-of-nowhere-in-Australia setting was not something that I enjoyed reading about, but I think it added to the sensation of loneliness, seclusion, and utter hopelessness.

What really surprised me is the fact that Ty didn't scare me. Never once did I feel like Gemma was in danger, like Ty was going to harm her in any way. While certainly odd, Ty was just a boy, looking at a girl, asking her to love him.** Kidding. Sort of. But this is really what it boiled down to, which was surprisingly uncreepy. And that is what made this book interesting and worth the read. Kudos to Lucy Christopher for making readers fall for Ty (as much as I hate to admit it).

So, while it's great to enjoy an airport romance like Hadley + Oliver's in The Statistical Probability of Love At First Sight, it's important to remember that there are other ways this could have turned out. It could have been an unlikely love story made in Stockholm syndrome Hell like Gemma + Ty's. The moral of this post? It's okay to have your head in the clouds, but keep your feet planted firmly on the ground and ready to run if the situation calls for it. Oh, and NEVER, NEVER, NEVER let a stranger "fix" your drink, no matter how intense and icy blue his eyes are.*** [End preachy rant.]

* There are no chapters in this book, only scene breaks. As someone who likes to finish a chapter and stick the bookmark in the book, this drove me a little batshiz. But whatever.
** from Notting Hill (sort of) 
*** This is in no way meant to be a finger wag at Gemma (it wasn't her fault this happened). I'm certain Ty would have just found some other way to make his plan work.

27 comments:

  1. Thanks for the post. I think it demonstrates how stories that are laced with the same main idea can become so different. I have been wanting to read The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight for a while now. I will have to try it out.

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    1. STATISTICAL PROBABILITY is a sweet love story and a quick read. But reading STOLEN really got me thinking about both of them. I'd like to think that people generally aren't creepers, but STOLEN reminded me that not everyone is that way.

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  2. The Statistical Probability of Love has been on my to read list, for a bit. I need to read it, I've heard so many good things about it.

    I read most of Stolen, I ended up skimming through a good part of it to get to the end because it boring me. I think because I knew in the end she would get away, it killed the tension for me. And.. NOTHING happened. I mean, I guess I'm glad Ty didn't really hurt her... but I don't know, I kept waiting for something dark, something scary or creepy to happen, and got nothing.

    eh, I guess if I'm going to read a book about crazy people, I want them to deliver ;)

    Though I will add that I read American Psycho over the weekend... oh dear God, I wish I could go back in time and unread the book. eeek THAT was way over the top violence and creepiness.

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    1. I have to admit, STOLEN bored me for most of the book too. What kept me reading is knowing that at some point she a) falls for Ty, and b) manages to escape/get away from him. But you're right, the tension is killed from the get-go because we already know that both of those things happen. Regardless, it really got me thinking about their situation and how it would be entirely possible to end up with Stockholm syndrome (as much as I've always been a little confused by it).

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  3. I read The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight and well, fell in love with it at first sight, because if I recall correctly I read it all in one sitting. Haven't read Stolen yet. It's interesting that the author makes Ty a sympathetic character. Now I'm intrigued about his backstory and his reasons for kidnapping Gemma. My WIP has a kidnapping scenario as well, although the dynamic is different (no airport involved) and the reference to Stockholm Syndrome is a joke on my mc's part :)

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    1. I loved STATISTICAL PROBABILITY! Just a simple love story without any creepers. :P I generally like my reading material to be creeper free. Ty's reasons for abducting Gemma were definitely interesting, and they make him more sympathetic. Still, it's alarming to think that somebody we're wired to think is evil could actually be very much the opposite.

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  4. Jaime, this post is awesome. I love both of the books you highlighted, and for very different reasons. Isn't it interesting how two different authors can take the same basic idea (meeting a cute guy at the airport) and spin two completely unique tales. Totally plays into that "there are no new ideas" theory.

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    1. Thanks, Katy. :) You're right about the 'no new ideas' thing! These books almost make me think of the movie SLIDING DOORS or a Choose Your Own Adventure. What's behind Door 1? A sweet boy with non-creepy intentions. Behind Door 2? A boy with sort of creepy intentions. Still, I'm impressed that Lucy Christopher made Ty sympathetic instead of him actually being a creeper.

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    2. OOh, I still like Sliding Doors and Gwenyth's 1990s angled haircut.

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  5. It's incredible how both books start with the same premise and end up in such different places. I love both of these books, too. Stolen creeped me out so much!

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    1. What's interesting about STOLEN is that while Ty is actually very non-creepy, the whole situation is creepy because you as the reader fall for Ty along with Gemma. But the whole time you're shaking your head thinking: "This is just so wrong!" I guess in a way, Lucy Christopher gave us all Stockholm syndrome, you know?

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  6. Great post. I haven't read either. STOLEN came out right before I went on a plane to Australia so I was terrified to read it......

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    1. Thanks, Rachel. :) Yeah, I think I'd probably avoid reading a book like this if I was on the way to Australia. Just like I'd probably avoid watching movies about plane crashes, etc. right before a flight.

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  7. I haven't read either of these books, but that's an interesting comparison, Jaime. And fascinating how two different authors can take the same situation and take it in two completely different directions.

    FYI, Terry Pratchett's books don't have chapters either. He says, "life doesn't happen in chapters." I say, "but novels do!" :) His books are great, though, so I give him a bit of a pass on that. :)

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    1. When I picked up STOLEN, the comparison with STATISTICAL PROBABILITY didn't really pop into my head. It wasn't until I set it down that I realized the initial similarities in set-up. I think I'll stick to books like STATISTICAL PROBABILITY from here on in. I tend to prefer my stories creeper free. :) Though, I guess most books have some creeper or another in them—ie. the villain.

      I didn't realize that Terry Pratchett doesn't use chapters either. They say your book should be so good that it's difficult to put a bookmark in it at any point. While I tend to agree, I still (as a reader) find it irritating when I can't finish reading at the end of a chapter. I think maybe that's a little OCD (kind of like my fixation with even numbers and things being parallel O_o), but there it is. Still, sometimes something is just so good that we can forgive those things. BLOOD RED ROAD is an example of that kind of scenario. She doesn't use quotation marks around dialogue, and the whole thing is written in a sort of Southern dialect (quite often phonetically). That drove some readers nuts, but I actually liked it. But then the story was just so interesting to me that it only added more flavour. :)

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  8. This is one of the most intriguing openings to a blog post I've ever read. Well done. Also, nice to see you again! :)

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    1. Thanks, Liz. :) It's nice to see you again! We missed you around the blogosphere.

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  9. I want to read both of these, and STOLEN in particular has been on my TBR list for ages. You draw such an interesting comparison between the two; now I want to read them even more!

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    1. I would suggest reading STOLEN first, and then read STATISTICAL PROBABILITY next. It'll be like cleansing your mind of the creepiness of the former. Kind of like mouth wash or a shower lol. They're very different books in tone and purpose, but it's hard to ignore the similarities in how they are set up. I feel like I have a better understanding of how Stockholm syndrome can actually happen after reading STOLEN. Lucy Christopher makes the reader fall for Ty, (which is just creepy in and of itself) which I never thought could happen.

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  10. I read and enjoyed both...good comparison. As a mom, STOLEN possibilities are all to real and all too possible to me...when I think of the stupid things I did as a teen, oblivious to the possible dangers, I cringe every time.

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    1. I've already told my husband that if we have daughters who want to travel at a young age, we're making them watch TAKEN first. That's maybe kind of cruel, but at least maybe they'll be a little more cautious. I don't have kids yet, but I can well imagine how terrifying these types of stories must be for moms.

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  11. I didn't even think about the connection with these two, but that's a really interesting assessment. They're good counterpoints.

    And STOLEN was so psychological, it really stuck with me. My friend is reading it right now so I've been thinking about it again and I still feel so conflicted. Ty was creepy, but also not, and I remember my first reaction to the ending was disappointment... then I did a double-take and was like, "What is wrong with me??"

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  12. I think I would have trouble even picking up a book where a girl might fall for her captor, but if it was handled well I could deal. I will probably pass on that one though. All I can think of is Natalie Holloway disappearing forever. I suppose it would depend how the author handled the seriousness of being kidnapped.

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  13. I really enjoyed Stolen, mostly because I was not sure what would happen and I didn't see how on earth the author could make Gemma or ME feel sympathetic toward Ty. But she did and I enjoyed how she did it.

    I have not read Statistical Probability and I do want to...

    You make great points here-- what may seem totally normal in a romantic comedy or YA book may not be a good idea IRL. (For example, ever going anywhere with anyone you don't know).

    Ted Bundy was apparently a good looking, charismatic guy, and a lawyer-- what many women think of as ideal. But it didn't turn out well for the ladies he met.

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  14. Oh man. Eerily enough, I read these books almost back-to-back earlier this year but never made the connection you made. What a noggin you've got! Great review!

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  15. Awesome review! Here's mine if you don't mind: http://lorxiebookreviews.blogspot.com/2012/12/stolen-by-lucy-christopher.html

    Thanks and have a nice day! :)

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