Book Review: Girl, Stolen by April Henry

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Title: Girl, Stolen

Author: April Henry

Number of Pages: 213

Genre: Crime Thriller

Rating: B-

Recommended?: Yes

Griffin, a none-too-bright teenager on the wrong side of the law, impulsively steals an expensive car with it’s keys left conveniently in the ignition from a parking lot. Eager to present the prize to his criminal dad Roy, Griffin is shocked to discover a blind sixteen-year-old girl huddled in the back of the car. Cheyenne Wilder was blinded in the same accident that killed her mother three years ago, and Griffin initially wants to let her go but is afraid that it will result in him being caught by the authorities.


So he takes her to Roy’s house, which might be better described as ‘white trash hell,’ and when Roy realizes that Cheyenne’s dad and stepmother are rich he decides to hold her for ransom. Griffin doesn’t want Roy and his two cronies to kill Cheyenne or to use her captivity as an opportunity to sexually assault her, but he’s afraid to cross his violent alcoholic dad and incompetently tries to keep the two vicious sidekicks at bay. What he doesn’t count on is Cheyenne’s resilience, and how she refuses to give up her accept her role as a helpless victim.


I liked Cheyenne’s character and how strong-willed she was, even while facing terrifying circumstances. I also appreciated the obvious amount of research the author put into what it might be like to live with a visual impairment. I didn’t like how much slack was cut for Griffin, and how clearly he was presented as a ‘good kid in a bad situation’ and Cheyenne was increasingly sympathetic to his plight. I felt like Griffin and Cheyenne’s dynamic should have played out more savagely, and there should have been more of an element of anger and manipulation on Cheyenne’s part, focusing more on her own survival and less on how Griffin is a good, if misguided person and she doesn’t want to hurt him.


Unfortunately, I saw two of the novel’s major ‘twists’ coming from a mile away. Maybe for a younger reader certain elements of the book would be more suspenseful, but I felt the story had some serious eyeroll-worthy moments. The scene where Roy’s crony TJ tries to rape Cheyenne actually made me start laughing a little bit, because his dialogue was so corny. “Are you a virgin, Cheyenne? Are you? Because maybe it’s time for you to become a real woman. Maybe you should let TJ give you a little loving before it’s too late”… “Where you’re going, you won’t be getting any loving. They never talk about getting it on in heaven, do they, baby? Let TJ give you a sweet memory to take to your grave.”


The weird thing is, most of the dialogue wasn’t bad at all. It kind of makes you wonder why the author decided to write this particular character with this level of silliness. That said, Girl, Stolen was the very epitome of a quick read and it kept my attention throughout. It was action-packed and entertaining, but I also felt like there was something unsubstantial about it as well. The two lead characters were intriguing but overall I felt they lacked depth.


I didn’t know when I checked Girl, Stolen from the library that April Henry had written a sequel, and I’m ambivalent about whether to read the continuation of Cheyenne and Griffin’s story or not. On one hand, the author might take the opportunity to build upon the characters she’s created to a deeper extent, but I’m concerned that something romantic will end up developing between the two characters, and I think that would pretty much ruin the story for me. I liked this book but I didn’t love it, it’s got a concept that immediately sucks you in and it’s compulsively readable, but in certain respects it’s greatly lacking. I would still recommend it overall, especially for reluctant readers and people who are in the mood for something fast-paced and a little lightweight.

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