The back cover of Captives declares it “Teen Fiction”. I would need to think about that.
My fourteen-year-old sister showed interest in this book, after she saw me reading it; I warned her off it. Though discreetly handled, the drug addiction and sensual indulgence were more than I felt comfortable with her reading; nor was I sure that this is the time to initiate an exploration of how pregnancies can be created via medical procedures.
There are things in Captives that some parents would reject for their teens, too-vivid pictures of sin that innocence doesn’t need. Yet I can see how the morals and themes of the novel are suited for young adults more than anyone else – older teens, maybe younger twenties. For, you see, the dual worlds of this dystopia are not too unlike the dual worlds of our present time.
The world is not as dissolute or libertine as the Safe Lands; the Christian community is not as strict or isolated as Glenrock. Yet the parallels may be drawn long.
The Christian community, like Glenrock, has a sternness – you could almost say a harshness – that stands against the looseness of worldly ways. “Take the straight and narrow path, or you’ll go to hell;” “Don’t do that, don’t go there, don’t even think about that.” A Christian is called by the unyielding will and holiness of God to a web of commands and duties.
And the young, brought up in that web and looking out, see the world – all awhirl, glittering with lights and flashing with colors. It promises all you could ever want.
So the Safe Lands were to Mia and Omar, and they believed the promise. But as the whole book shows, the beauty of the world is shallow, and beneath the foam of pleasure is an ocean of despair.
The lessons of Captives – how one can be corrupted by bad company, how the small falls make the large ones easy, how deceptive the world’s seduction is – are good for anyone, but best for those who are facing the temptation of the world for the first time. There are teens who could be invaluably instructed by this book.
But it must be said, there are other ways to learn the same lessons, and some of the scenes are gritty. Whether Captives is indeed “Teen Fiction” is a question I give up to discretion and authority of the parents.