How far are you willing to go to save humanity? This the central question Captives revolves around. Most of humanity lives in the Safe Lands, enjoying a life of decadence, but underneath the smiles and the designer looks, they are all carrying a disease. A few people remain living in the wilds away from walls and technology of the Safe Lands, free of their influence and their disease. When the government decides that the “Naturals” might be the key to finding a cure, one boy’s dreams of a life of ease are enough to sell a whole village into slavery. Once inside the Safe Lands, all the villagers must decide whether to accept the Safe Lands’ hand of friendship…and how far down the rabbit hole they can go without losing themselves.
Despite a racing plot and complex characters, the deep, hard questions Captives asks are the best part of the story. By the end of the book, the moral high ground is obscured in a murky fog. While there is never any doubt that the scientists and the government have crossed the line looking for a cure, does that make every single one of their efforts and experiments wrong? And even if you are level headed enough to look at the situation and realize that the establishment is out of control, does it follow that you should just abandon humanity? Or do you stand in the middle, part of neither side, searching for a way to help both?
Captives brilliantly allows all the perspectives to be shown by allowing the reader to follow the story through the eyes of several different characters. Omar, who thought no price was too high for a perfect life. Levi, who escaped the raid but comes looking for his fiancé. Shaylinn, who must decide how to bear the burden the Safe Lands have placed upon her. And Mason, who is trying to save those he loves…and the rest of humanity at the same time. Between these characters, we are given a much clearer look at the whole picture, at how deep the corruption has gone in the Safe Lands and at how desperate humanity’s need to be healed has become.
Surprisingly original for a Dystopian novel, Captives does follow in the vein of such novels as Fahrenheit 451, Hunger Games, and The Giver as far as embracing hard themes and unflinchingly staring down humanity’s darkness. The focus is less on the future world and its technology, and more on the characters and their need not to blindly follow the establishment. The theme that sometimes all it takes to shake the foundations of the mighty is one person drawing a line and saying no runs rampant through the book. In Captives though, the shift is much more subtle. There aren’t any cameras or talk shows. Just one person saying no to another. No flaming dresses in this one folks. Yet. I seriously wouldn’t put it past a few of the Safe Lands designers.
Intrigued? You should definitely check out the book’s site too both before and after reading Captives: http://thesafelands.com/