Publication date: October 1st, 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.
Source: I received an e-arc of this book via Edelweiss in return for an honest review. Thank you to HMH Books for Young Readers for letting me read it!
(For this review, I decided to divide the things that stood out to me and put them under headlines describing the topic.)
This book was . . . incredible. Scary. Inspiring. It wasn't light, fluffy, or easy to read. It was packed with powerful messages of strength and inner beauty. It's a story worth every second of your time.
I loved how Nick was just an average guy. I loved how Cheryl Rainfield made him overweight and unpopular because not a lot of authors do that. He didn't look like the typical "hero," but this book shows that any guy—regardless of whether he is overweight or muscular, a good drawer or a good athlete—can become a hero because it's the inside that counts, the compassion, loyalty, and the heart that he possesses.
Give me ghosts. Give me bloodthirsty vampires. Give me whatever other scary thing in a book, and more times than not, I won't say it's scary. Those things aren't real. Now, this book—this is the scary type. The things in this book are possible. They have happened. People get abducted, killed, raped, abused all the time. It's a very real topic, and although this book isn't a traditionally scary book, it contains much, much scarier things in it than fictional ghosts and paranormal creatures.
GREAT FOCUS ON STRENGTH
One of the biggest points of this story is strength—the strength to keep living, to keep pushing, to keep thinking positive in adversity. Sarah definitely pushed through. She never truly let anyone get to her and she was always able to stand up and do what was right. She was always strong, even though she didn't use to think of herself that way. She was always beautiful, regardless of her port-wine stain. She's definitely an inspirational character and I think many people would love her resilience. It was one of the greatest things about the book.
It reminded me of the thrillers or crime dramas I've seen on tv, especially towards the end. Stained was a really quick read that had my eyes burning with threatening tears for at least quarter of the book. It was definitely worth the read, and I highly recommend it to anyone who can handle books focused on and containing abuse.