Friday, April 19, 2013

My Review of Captives (With Giveaway!)

Here's a description of the book:

"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 Living off the land and clinging to an outdated religion holds his village back.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?"

My Rating


My Review

Jill Williamson has a fantastic imagination. Captives is full of interesting "What if?"s and difficult choices. Williamson doesn't spare her characters from facing trauma, evil intentions, and the consequences of poor choices - and the result is poignant characterization. Despite the fact that there are three male POVs in this story (with the males being teenagers, at that), I found myself curious about their reactions and journeys. I loved seeing things through Shaylinn's eyes, and I would have liked more scenes from her perspective, but I was still drawn into the story as seen by all of the POV characters.

Levi, Omar, and Mason are all such different boys, with such different approaches to problems and such different interests. There's a hint of the movie Brother Bear in all of this - these three brothers who each have a role in their family, but who are all searching for ways to be accepted. It's a long, painful road to forgiveness and opened eyes, one that doesn't come to an end at the conclusion of this book. Two more books to come in "The Safe Lands" series promise more character development and powerful plot twists.

As a dystopian story, I found some of the extremes combined with recognizable elements intriguing. The things that Shaylinn and the other characters learn about themselves because of the setting are thought-provoking. I confess, though, that I'm not quite sure I can reconcile the Safe Landers need/desire for obtaining children, going as far as to raise children not of their own blood at all, with their self-centered ways. The people value beauty and youth, with their motto being: "Find pleasure in life." They're focused on satisfying themselves and getting the most out of life (for themselves) while they can. I don't quite get how that sort of lifestyle leads them to think that they need to "save" their population. What on earth for? Do they really care about future generations? Do they really care if their people die out, as long as they find pleasure before their own "liberation"? I could understand wanting to find a cure for themselves (for the plague that has claimed them) and needing to capture uninfected outsiders to help in that process, but I have a hard time wrapping my mind around such self-centered people raising up children for the sake of the group as a whole. Of course, they each have to work at a task that benefits the community as a whole, which is necessary for them to survive... But would most of them be aware enough to think of a future beyond each one's own?

Perhaps I'm being too "black and white." As becomes obvious as the story progresses, not all of the Safe Landers are as they seem. They are humans just like the "outsiders," with longings and concerns beyond the dictates of society, although many of them deaden their hearts through excessive self-indulgence. Perhaps their society's desire to claim children for their land is a hint at each person's desire for something bigger than themselves, something new and hopeful. (Perhaps some quotes from C.S. Lewis' works might fit here? *wink*)

Captives is not a feel-good read (I don't think any dystopian book is supposed to be!), and it explores addictions, poor coping mechanisms, greed, sin. But it offers hope through its portrayals of forgiveness, faith, strength of character, and conviction. And it ends at a great spot - offering a dose of satisfaction while still leaving plenty of unresolved plot elements to make up the next books in the series.

*With thanks to DJC Communications and Zondervan for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion.*

A Map of The Safe Lands

You can learn more about the fictional setting of Captives on The Safe Lands website.

Book Trailer


I kind of got ahead of myself and requested an ARC of Captives from DJC Communications...while I was still on the author's list to receive a review copy. ;) So I have an extra copy of Captives to send to one of you! You can enter the drawing using the Rafflecopter form below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Ruth A. said...

I can't wait to read this book! Sounds great! :)

Charity U said...

So true that this isn't a feel-good book! It's disconcerting, most certainly. But very good and I look forward to more in the series! I'm not entering the giveaway since I already have a copy, but I'm glad you're offering one. :)

Rissi said...

I've never read Jill's books and am a bit unsure since I either LOVE the dystopian genre (The Selection) or find it distasteful in certain themes (THG). Nonetheless, perhaps sometime I'll give this author a try. :)

Thanks, Amber!

Amber S. said...


It really is an interesting read, with a great depth to the characterization. :) Hope you enjoy it!

Do you have a favorite of Jill's books? I think mine (of the four I've read: By Darkness Hid, Replication, The New Recruit, and this one) is Replication, and Captives probably comes in second. :)


Amber S. said...


Yes, these dystopian books can really be disconcerting, especially when you think of all the crazy things already happening in the world. :( But it's great that they can get you to think, and the settings certainly offer plenty of challenges to the characters! I thought Jill did an awesome job fleshing out these particular characters. :)

Thank you so much for all of your help in spreading the word about this giveaway on Twitter!


Amber S. said...


Oh, you haven't ready any of her books yet? I hope you get a chance to soon - they're thought-provoking and very creative!

Yes, the dystopian genre can sometimes be hit and miss. I did like The Hunger Games for the things it challenged me to think about and the discussion it provoked - plus, it held my interest through the whole series. And I'm enjoying the "Lunar Chronicles" series so far - I think they sort of fit in this genre? But the violence in dystopian books can be intense, and sometimes they can become repetitive or too draining. :(

I would certainly be curious to hear your thoughts on this one, if you read it! :)


Lacee Hogg said...

I am very intrigued to read a Christian-themed dystopian book. I also enjoyed the Hunger Games, but their hopelessness sometimes left me feeling empty. This should be an interesting read!

Amber S. said...


I know what you mean about The Hunger Games - it's perspective is thought-provoking but also disturbing and depressing. I wrote a blog post about my thoughts on the series (there are spoilers if you haven't read all the books!), if you care to take a look:

Hope you don't mind me throwing that out there. :)

Anyway, yes, a Christian-themed dystopian is very intriguing, and I know some readers have been hoping for this very thing. :) I think Jill did a great job, and I believe you'll find - despite the depressing aspect inherent in dystopian books - a lot more hope in this story. Good luck in the drawing!