I am so happy today to join JKSCommunications on their blog tour for Cheryl Rainfield's latest novel, Stained. You can see more information about the tour, and check out the other blogs participating HERE.
Stained by Cheryl RainfieldGoodreads:
Release Date: October 1, 2013
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
An intensely powerful account of a teen, bullied for her port-wine stain, who must summon her personal strength to survive abduction and horrific abuse at the hands of a deranged killer.
Sixteen-year-old Sarah Meadows longs for "normal." Born with a port wine stain covering half her face, all her life she's been plagued by stares, giggles, bullying, and disgust. But when she's abducted on the way home from school, Sarah is forced to uncover the courage she never knew she had, become a hero rather than a victim, and learn to look beyond her face to find the beauty and strength she has inside. It's that-or succumb to a killer.
Leave a comment on this post for the chance to win an e-copy of Cheryl's book, Hunted.
You can see my review of Hunted HERE.
I have only read one other Cheryl Rainfield novel, but I very much enjoyed it. So when I found out that she was releasing Stained this fall and it was going to be a "tough subject" novel, I was all in. More often than not, books with controversial, graphic subjects are able to hook me in and really make me look at the world differently--not always in a bad way, even when the books are gritty, and make me cry like a baby. That's why I was so looking forward to Stained, it's really just my kind of book. I'm glad to say that now that I've finished the book, I still believe this to be true.
Sarah was born with a port wine that covered most of her face. Her entire life has been filled with bullying, ignorance and pain due to her appearance. Just when she thinks her life could turn around, Sarah is kidnapped on her way home from school and forced into isolation, where she is raped, starved and mentally tortured. Stained follows a young girl's suffering in captivity and also gives us a glimpse into the life of the boy back home who loves her just the way she is.
Reading through the horrors that Sarah goes through during the course of this novel is harrowing. It's difficult not to feel something for Sarah has she suffers repeatedly at the hands of her abuser. She endures much in a mere three-hundred pages, and it will leave a lasting mark on anyone who follows her journey. This is a tough-subject, and though I don't think the author always hit the nail on the head, Rainfield did a good job at making Stained more than just a story.
I'm lucky when I say that I have never been abused, in any manner, therefore I found some things difficult to reconcile with. From knowing myself and thinking about how I would've handled Sarah's situation, it was difficult for me to understand the motive behind some of her thoughts and actions. There were scenes that didn't make sense to me especially some of Sarah's behavior towards the end of the novel, and the way her parents treated her. I didn't think that they were completely realistic, so that took a bit away from the experience.
I liked Sarah, but I didn't love her. Her voice was pretty immature, and I didn't like her focus on romance when she was in captivity. I felt disconnected from her for most of the novel, because I couldn't get into the same mindset. Sarah's growth through the novel is pretty well done. It doesn't seem like she changes very much through the story, but things that bothered me about her in the beginning all but disappeared by the end of the novel. I liked the more minor of characters as well--Nick especially. I love that Sarah's loved ones never gave up on finding her. They had some really great qualities, albeit there were definitely some times where it didn't feel completely realistic. There was just something about Sarah's time locked up didn't quite feel as dangerous as it should've. I couldn't take it as seriously because of some of Sarah's repetitive, childish monologue.
Through all of the negatives, I really loved this story. It was an interesting take on a dark theme, with a twist that I hadn't read before (the port wine birth mark, I mean). I finished it in one sitting. The plot moved steadily, though at times there was some repetition. I think Rainfield has a lot of talent. She wrote a story that even with some flaws, I couldn't help but enjoy. The author did an excellent job of grabbing the reader's attention right from the very beginning and not releasing them until the last sentence on the last page. Reading Stained in a mere two hours was not what I had planned for the night, but once I started, I couldn't find it in me to put the book down. It was almost like an addiction. Cheryl Rainfield is an excellent storyteller and I look forward to reading more of her work!
I received an e-copy of this novel from the publisher for my honest opinion and review via Netgalley.