Book Reviews

Book Splash Review: Captives

Captives by Jill Williamson

Last week, I reviewed Stephanie Morrill’s newest book (click here to read it), and this week I’m reviewing Jill Williamson’s latest! Like Stephanie, Jill is one of the brilliant minds behind Go Teen Writers (click here to read an interview with her), and I greatly admire her writing. I was a finalist in an essay contest recently, and as a prize, I won an autographed copy of Captives. Autographed. Copy. I’m not extremely girly, but I’m pretty sure I squealed when it came in the mail. I’d read her book Replication (which I highly recommend – The first chapter is included in the back of Captives!), so I was excited to jump into this newest book. Read on for my thoughts…


One choice could destroy them all.

When eighteen-year-old Levi returned from Denver City with his latest scavenged finds, he never imagined he’d find his village of Glenrock decimated, loved ones killed, and many—including his fiancée, Jem–taken captive. Levi is determined to rescue what remains of his people, even if it means entering the Safe Lands, a walled city that seems anything but safe.

Omar knows he betrayed his brother by sending him away, but helping the enforcers was necessary. Living off the land and clinging to an outdated religion holds his village back. The Safe Land has protected people since the plague decimated the world generations ago … and its rulers have promised power and wealth beyond Omar’s dreams.

Meanwhile, their brother Mason has been granted a position inside the Safe Lands, and may be able to use his captivity to save not only his people, but also find a cure for the virus that threatens everyone inside the Safe Lands.

Can Mason uncover the truth hidden behind the Safe Land’s façade before it’s too late?

The Story:

It’s the year 2088, and America has destroyed itself. Small villages remain, where many of the villagers cling to an “outdated” religion (Christianity). Then there’s the Safe Lands – a place where everyone is encouraged to “find pleasure in life!” Wild parties, elaborate clothes, and exciting scientific advances are Hallmarks of this seemingly utopic city. Except…everyone is slowly dying. A plague has infected the city, and not even the most colorful tattoos can hide the fact that the Safe Lands isn’t so safe. The people bring in outsiders from the villages who aren’t infected by the plague for purposes of creating healthy citizens to populate the city.

However, not all who enter the Safe Lands are enamored by its flamboyant lifestyle.

My Favorite Parts:

Captives is a page-turner; there’s always something to keep you reading. I was blown away by the elaborate story world Jill Williamson created. It’s obviously fiction, but there’s just enough “real”  woven throughout that it’s not impossible to imagine some of the events actually happening. And that’s frightening.

One of the things I love most about the book is that Jill isn’t afraid to push her characters to their limits. I would read one part of the story and say, “Surely he wouldn’t go so far…” and then the character would go so far…and beyond. There are no easy outs for the characters. It’s gripping.

Captives is based off the first chapter of Daniel in the Bible. The messages presented in this book are really solid, but not preachy. Often, I’ll read a book and it’ll come so close to having one of those “WOW” moments, only to fall a little short. Captives doesn’t do that. It’ll spark some good discussion about God’s way vs. the world’s way. It clearly shows how, although earthly pleasures may be fun for a while, our sin can ultimately destroy us.

My Least Favorite Parts:

It’s book #1 in a trilogy, which means there’s much more to come. There I was, happily reading along, assuming I had at least one more chapter to enjoy, when all of a sudden…BOOM. It ended. It was frustrating because it was just. so. intriguing. My sister had the privilege of hearing me bemoan the ending of the book for a while. Needless to say, I can’t wait for Book 2.

The Safe Lands is full of immorality, meaning some parts of the story are a little hard to swallow. However, although some of the activities are described in detail (for example: “vaping” – their form of smoking/drug use, and surrogacy procedures involving the unaffected outsiders as a means of prolonging the race), they’re handled really well.


Believe it or not, I do read YA books that aren’t targeted specifically at teen girls. This is one such example. Not only is the majority of the story told from guys’ perspectives (with a really great, authentic voice), it’s a story guys will definitely enjoy. I highly recommend this book for your summer reading list. Even though the people in the Safe Lands don’t have a moral code, there’s no profanity in the book. I do recommend this book for older teens, though, due to some of the things I previously mentioned.

Overall, it’s an engaging story that brings home some strong themes while keeping you reading late into the night (or early morning hours). This is one book you don’t want to miss!

Buy the Book:

Visit to learn more about the perfect place to “find pleasure in life.”

About the Author:

Jill Williamson is a novelist, dreamer, and believer. Growing up in Alaska led to a love of books, and in 2010 her first novel, By Darkness Hid, won the Christy Award. She loves working with teenagers and gives writing workshops at libraries, schools, camps, and churches. Jill lives in Oregon with her husband and two children. Visit Jill online at .


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