Think of the last time you flopped on the couch, stuffed your face with cookies and chips, and took in an eight-hour Law & Order: SVU marathon. (Don't even try to deny it because we know you've done it.) Typically, when a girl gets abducted, it doesn't end well for her—she usually ends up sexually assaulted or dead or damaged for life.
We expect all of these things from Ty when he kidnaps Gemma in Stolen, and yet they just don't happen. Ty diverges from the typical criminal stereotype in the odd compassion he shows his victim, even sacrificing his freedom for her in the end. Meanwhile, it's this kindness that allows Gemma to forgive him and offer him the hope that he can change.
Ty repeatedly lets Gemma escape to reveal her need for him for survival.
Sending Ty to jail is an act of forgiveness and compassion for Gemma, not revenge.
What's the most alone you've ever felt? Sitting in the cafeteria alone at lunch? Not getting picked as someone's partner for a school project? Getting turned down by a prospective prom date? Try getting kidnapped from an airport and held hostage in an endless desert with nothing and no one around for miles.
In a way, the land in Stolen is its own character in the drama of Gemma's disappearance—everywhere she looks, there are no people or places to be seen, and this only serves to make her feel more desperate and lonely. You know, in case things weren't hard enough for Gemma already.
Placing the characters in an isolated environment forces them to interact, creating greater strain between them.
While there's clearly no evidence of life outside Ty's property, Gemma remains hopeful as a psychological device to help herself survive.
A lot of people would probably find living the way Ty does in Stolen to be pretty much impossible. Forget about grocery stores, text messaging, entertainment, and the usual modern conveniences—you're hunting for your food and looking at the stars instead of watching sitcoms, and Ty would probably laugh in your face if you asked why you couldn't get a signal on your smartphone.
But, in a way, that's what makes his character so fascinating: He has no interest whatsoever in living in a modern society. Not only that, but there's major tension between him and Gemma, who's clearly a city girl. Regardless, Ty has some things he wants to teach her about the value of nature and its meaning in a world overrun with technology.
Christopher portrays the wilderness not as a place of death but as a place of rebirth.
Ty's connection with the natural wilderness heightens the sacrifice he makes by going with Gemma in the plane.
We've all been there: You run into someone who looks a little familiar and start wracking your brain to figure out who they are. Or, maybe you've been in a new place for a while and can't help thinking about life back where you're from. Throughout Stolen, both of our main characters are haunted not just by the roles they've played in each other's lives but unresolved family conflicts that still occupy their thoughts. Gemma may not remember the ways Ty was involved with her life long before her kidnapping, but her gradual recollection changes the way she sees him.
Ty kidnaps Gemma not as revenge for what happened to him as a child but because he's trying to make it right by rescuing Gemma from the life he experienced in the city.
The more Gemma remembers about Ty's role in her life back home, the more we truly get to know him and his motivations.
Laws and order (not to be confused with Law & Order) play a huge role in Gemma's world in Stolen. Whether it's her parents' subtle pressures for her to participate in their upper class lifestyle or Gemma's sense of relief at knowing Ty brought her to a country where law enforcement has the potential to rescue her, Gemma relies on the conventions of the society she's been raised in as a way of interpreting what's happening to her.
By contrast, Ty has a reckless disregard for the law and authority figures, seeing them as people who disrupted the order of his own unconventional life. Stolen definitely blurs the line between "civilized" and "uncivilized," causing us by the end of the book to reevaluate the way we see Ty's approach to life.
While Ty's kidnapping plot may be wrong, some good still comes from it in terms of how Gemma sees the rules and order of her life.
While Ty and Gemma grew up in completely opposite environments, neither of them ever thinks to question the order of their lives until they are stolen.
Ty is ridiculously strong and more than capable of overpowering Gemma physically. What really gives him the upper hand in the struggle between them, though, is that he knows how to live in the middle of nowhere on his own. The key to controlling Gemma isn't physical force, but letting her experience the reality that she has nowhere to turn except to him. She can't hack it on her own without him.
So, while Ty himself is pretty intimidating, it's his mental power that makes him a frightening character; in the end, he knows Gemma's inability to survive in the desert will keep her in his clutches. Despite this upper hand, though, Stolen's core conflict is the power struggle between the two of them—Gemma yearns for freedom, trying to get to it by any means, while Ty is unwilling to let her go.
Ty's capacity for mental manipulation is more powerful than his physical strength.
Ty allows Gemma to run away not as a way of freeing her but to heighten his control over her.
Where would you rather live—in a bustling city with lots of activity and action or a laid-back country setting with a slow-paced way of life? For Ty and Gemma in Stolen, their totally different answers to this question are one of the biggest ways they're different from each other. You just can't get too much farther from London than the middle of the Australian desert. There's a bit more to this, though: Each character's perceptions of rural and urban locations come from the experiences that have shaped them—thus shaping their understanding of the contrast between these two regions, too.
Ty largely sees the city through the lens of his traumatic relocation there as a child.
The theme of contrasting settings ultimately reveals that what's on the surface isn't always the whole story.
For most of Stolen, Gemma is a prisoner. After Ty abducts her, she finds herself alone with him in the desert, with no way to escape except through him. As a result, a huge part of the book is about examining what it means to be in captivity, as well as what it means to be free. While she originally feels confined and isolated in Ty's homestead in the wilderness, her experiences with him distort the meaning of these words. Is the desert really a prison? Has Gemma been in captivity her whole life without even knowing it? It's one of the paradoxes at the core of Stolen—Ty may hold Gemma captive, but he might also be the person who sets her free. Whoa.
Stolen broadens the definition of captivity to include the situations and places we don't know are holding us back.
Ty is using Gemma's captivity to make right what was done to him as a child.
What were your first impressions of Ty at the beginning of Stolen? Did you think he was a maniac? If so, you're not alone. The thing is, it then gets more complicated—we learn that he's obsessed with Gemma and has been observing her and her family for years. Who does that? Creeps, that's who. But as the story goes on, we find there's more to Ty than meets the eye. Is he really insane, or has his past led him to believe that he's genuinely rescuing Gemma from the city and her family? Does he have some kind of mental illness? While it might seem like these questions have easy answers at the beginning, the ending leaves us not so sure. Like, at all.
Ty would be eligible for an insanity plea during his trial.
Gemma's experience with Ty temporarily causes her to lose sight of the distinction between right and wrong.
Back in London, Gemma's mom experiences art and culture by buying paintings and drawings for her personal collection. She attends gallery openings, goes to other countries to acquire diverse artwork, and is really zeroed in on the act of shopping for other people's work. In other words, she's an art hoarder.
When Gemma goes to Australia, though, she encounters a whole new definition of art and culture through Ty's interactive art in the outbuildings. She becomes exposed to the power of creation over consumption as she comes to understand that Ty's art expresses his connection with the land. For a book about kidnapping, Stolen digs into some deep thoughts on what makes art and what the purpose of art truly is.
Ty's artwork changes the way Gemma sees him by revealing his humanity and sincerity.
Ty reveals the creative process behind art, which goes deeper than the cold consumerism of Gemma's mom's acquisitions. He humanizes art.