Series: The Safe Lands #1
Author: Jill Williamson
Genre: YA Dystopian
Ratings: Craft—5, Content—4,
Overall—4.2 out of 5 stars
A group of teens face captivity in a foreign but attractive culture which their elders warned against when they are betrayed by one of their own.
Excerpt from the prologue of Captives:“They’re ready for you, Miss Rourke.”
Ciddah looked up at the enforcer and took a deep breath. She hugged her CompuChart and stood from her seat on the bench, wobbling on her stilettos. The enforcer pulled open the door, a yawning maw that expelled a breath of frigid air into the warm hallway.
She tottered toward the entrance but stopped on the threshold.
The auditorium loomed before her, a vast and silent cube. She’d seen it on the ColorCast before: a purple concrete floor; a field of orange velvet bucket seats; walls painted in gradient: lime green at the bottom to black at the top. A spider’s web of pin lights hung under the vast ceiling. Though the room had seemed vibrant and cheerful when she’d seen it on her Wyndo, in person everything seemed almost dull and cold.
Three tables on the raised platforms stretched along the front and side walls and were covered in lime-green tablecloths. The hooded Ancients of the Safe Lands Guild sat behind each the tables, six to each wall—their eyes fixed on her like predatory creatures.
The Craft: Captives presents a strong story that is a cross between The Hunger Games trilogy and the book of Daniel.
It does take a little time to settle in as there are several storylines and characters to introduce. But the extensive set-up is necessary and pays off the further you go. The result is a plot that’s complex and tight, full of suspense, with some heart-pounding moments and a couple of unpredictable twists.
The characters mirror the plot, being also complex and multidimensional. So while they might not be the type of cast which captures the heart, they definitely snag your attention and interest.
All this is then set against a fully fleshed out, dystopian world, one which is eerily familiar and yet completely foreign. Add some easy-to-read prose, and you have a great read.
The Content: Captives matches the storytelling with thematic material as varied as the cast and their interactions with each other. The desire to belong and fit in, the purpose of family and marriage, vengeance, forgiveness, the balance between compromise and taking a stand, beauty, love, temptation, the impact of words, and many other things are touched upon within these pages.
Concerning other topical concern, there is no supernatural/magical elements, outside one dream that seems to be prophetic in nature. Violence is mainly kept to a shoot-out, where a few are killed, and a couple beatings, which occur off the page.
However, due to the nature of the book, there is a fair amount of sexuality and related elements. It never becomes explicit, but much is referenced, including general cultural promiscuity, artificial insemination, and a main character engaging in sex outside the marriage bond. Drugs also pay a significant role.
None of these elements are overdone with most of the acts occurring off the page. However, these make this book more geared for older teens and adults.
Summary: Captives crosses the dystopian world like you find in The Hunger Games with the spiritual conundrums the Jewish exiles like Daniel. The result is a captivating read that explores vast thematic and topical territories. However, due to some of the content, this book is not recommended for those under thirteen and would best for older teens and adults.
Ratings: Craft—5, Content—4, Overall—4.2 out of 5 stars