Captive in the Dark - C.J. Roberts Warning: Unpopular opinion time!

In the spirit of full disclosure, I must admit that I didn't exactly finish this abomination book. I made it halfway through before my numerous rage blackouts signaled that it was time to DNF. However, because I'm a curious idiot, I paged through to the end to see if the book ended as abysmally as I expected it would. (It did.) If I had finished Captive in the Dark, this review would probably contain 100% more swears. So in all honesty, I did this crapfest a favor.

Because this book makes me think in sentence fragments, I'll make a list of reasons that readers like me may want to skip over this book and read something, ANYTHING instead.

1. Rape and sexual assault
2. Physical assault
3. Kidnapping
4. Belt beatings that leave welts FOR DAYS
5. Chaining a woman up IN THE DARK in a manner that we wouldn't treat animals
6. A deep misunderstanding of proper punctuation
7. Trite, overwrought descriptions and dialogue
8. SLAVERY
9. The most inexplicable case of Stockholm's ever
10. Sexism
11. SEX TRAFFICKING
12. Poor characterization and story development
13. Victim who still attends high school (18-years-old, but I still got some pedo vibes.)

I'll leave the list at 13. Hell relics deserve unlucky numbers.

A Brief Summary
Fucking evil fucking douchebag Caleb kidnaps high school student Livvie and locks her up so he can mentally break her, torture her, rape her, and eventually SELL HER AS A SEX SLAVE to some undeveloped, shadowy villain. Caleb's the "romantic" hero, ladies and gentleman. Fuck this guy. In the process, Livvie falls for her captor because he's TOTES HAWT and forces multiple orgasms on her. Livvie is not Caleb's first victim. He's done this to plenty of women. Oh, and the charmer's also a murderer. And why has he unleashed this reign of terror on the human populace?

Seriously, brace yourself. The reason won't give you any comfort.

Caleb wants to have revenge on ONE FUCKING GUY. I mean, even if he was taking on a whole country, there still wouldn't be an excuse for his actions. But ONE GUY? How lame can one man's motivations be? He didn't have a fair go at it as a kid, and my heart breaks for that child. However, as an adult, he has a personal responsibility to be better than that. Caleb fails and becomes a fucking monster. He belongs in prison or in an eternal headlock from Liam Neeson.

I'd insert a kickass picture of Liam Neeson here, but CitD doesn't deserve awesome images in its reviews.

I don't know what to write about Livvie's character. Caleb dehumanizes her to such an extreme extent that she loses all perspective on right and wrong. She ends up falling for him, which made very little sense to me with the short timeline. Livvie's narration is coherent and rational, for the most post. She doesn't read as insane, but her actions suggest that she is. At one point, she mentions that she might be developing Stockholm Syndrome, but do people suffering from SS KNOW they're suffering from it? Livvie describes Caleb as the physical ideal for a man. She doesn't want to be attracted to him but can't help it because he's pretty.

That's the problem with so many of these self-pubbed, innocent young thing falls in love with gorgeous dickbag stories. IF CALEB LOOKED LIKE THE MONSTER HE IS ON THE INSIDE, NO ONE WOULD WANT TO FUCK HIM. NO ONE WOULD FALL IN LOVE WITH HIM. NO ONE WOULD MAKE EXCUSES FOR HIS FUCKING INHUMANITY. Why did I have to type that in all caps, you wonder? BECAUSE IT FUCKING PISSES ME OFF.

Now, it pains me that I have to type this, but WORDS SEND MESSAGES. This is not just a story. It's a reflection of our times, a reflection of our pre-occupation with romanticizing the stories of victims so we won't have to think about the reality. The reality is scary as shit. I get it. No one wants to end up a sex slave like Livvie. So it seems the only way we can deal with that fear is by making the situation not SO bad. Sure, Caleb commits unspeakable crimes, but he's a HAWT anti-hero. What he does to Livvie isn't right, but he had a rough childhood. Love will REDEEM him. A virginal little flower like Livvie will make him a better man. That's all these rapists and sex traffickers need, you see. The love of an abused, dehumanized woman. Forget personal responsibility. Forget the sacrifices of Livvie's freedom and personal agency. Let's instead be aroused by Caleb beating Livvie to break her will and anally raping her.

This is not just fiction. Sure, the story is totally made up. Caleb and Livvie are not real people. This comes entirely from the imagination of C.J. Roberts. However, even the most fantastical fiction reflects snippets of our culture, of our worldviews. That's why the written word is so powerful. Indeed, that's why people have tried to cut off access to books in the past. By no means do I think that Captive in the Dark should be censored. I think it's irresponsible as all hell, but anyone should be and is permitted to read and make up their own minds.

I refuse to let this story slide just because it's "supposed" to be dark and "taboo". Our culture has enough issues with sex crimes already. Sex slavery and trafficking is too real for me to think this book is erotic in the slightest. Google the statistics. It's a huge problem in the US and abroad, and it's tragically under-reported. Women, men, and children are brainwashed and abused like Livvie every day. They are made to believe that their captors are the only people they can trust. They're so afraid of their abusers that they won't speak to the police. REAL PEOPLE. Does Captive in the Dark do anything to fight this culture? Not really. It's pages full of wankery about poor 'ol Caleb and his feelz and overly sexualized descriptions of Livvie experiencing mind-blowing, oh-so-wrong-but-it-feels-so-right orgasms. The knowledge of these very real victims in the back of my mind made it impossible for me to even appreciate this book on an artistic level. My Goodreads friend Willowfaerie directed me to the story of Coleen Stan, whose 7 year captivity as a sex slave included many of the inhumanities suffered by Livvie. In the real world, after a grueling court trial, the bad guy went to prison for the rest of his life.

Something tells me the same won't happen to Caleb. IDK, maybe he'll die in the next book. I'll never know because I won't be reading it. The abrupt ending of this book indicated that Livvie wants to stay with Caleb and is willing to put herself in mortal danger for his stupid revenge mission, so I doubt the second book will spin the story on its head and consist entirely of a court trial featuring Caleb's past victims helping to send his sadistic ass to jail for the rest of his life.

To add insult to injury, this isn't even well-written. I know a lot of people say it is, and when compared to some other self-pubs, I suppose it comes across better than others. I'm a picky bitch, though, and the trite, purple prose is eyeroll inducing. At one point, Caleb enjoys the most dramatic beer ever while filling pages with info dumps of his tragic past. I chronicled that in my status updates. The purple prose is likely this book's worst enemy. The flowery descriptions of the sexual assault and Caleb's appearance and demeanor perhaps unintentionally romanticized the story. In addition to the clich├ęd "darkness" of the writing style, a lot of the basics are off. Punctuation is misused, words are misspelled, you're instead of your (it seems they'll never learn), and there's plenty of telling in place of showing. The dialogue tags really bothered me. Authors, please note that actions like "he took a drink" should not be used as dialogue tags. My GR friend Karla made a good point when she noted that a lot of new authors write dialogue like they're watching it on TV.

Bah. I'm going to attempt to forget about this book now. The only good thing that came from this experience is that I found some amazing organizations that are fighting human trafficking in my research. I'll lend my time and resources to positive forces like that instead.

*Note: After changing my mind several times, I've decided to leave a rating. I'm confident that I read enough of this tripe to know how many stars I should give it.