While Mari, a human, is in her chicken coop gathering eggs, she suddenly is abducted by aliens. She wakes up from stasis on a space ship run by the Attun, a vegetarian race renowned for their ability to abduct large quantities of humans to be sold on the intergalactic meat market. One of the Attun, named Ekkatt, grows fond of strong-willed Mari and spirits her away to a remote cabin on his home world. There, the pair grow to a stronger understanding of one another, and eventually fall in love.
Captured was an engrossing story. The plot was concise and fast-paced, unobstructed by clunky world-building exposition that frequently plagues expansive science fiction and fantasy stories. With a laser focus on the hero and heroine, the romance progressed, justified by Mari drawing parallels between backward, often-intolerant Attun culture and human culture.
The conciseness was a double-edged sword, however. As much as the romance-lover in me appreciated the pacing, many social issues in Attun society could have used more exploration. There were few depictions of setting that were so sparse they left me disoriented as a reader. I still have questions about J.R. Barrett’s fantasy world that could be addressed in future installments.
The biggest theme in the book, that of tolerance, empathy, and friendship toward others, is one we should be questioning in our own world, and one I thought of frequently as I read Captured. Mari habitually refers to her and Ekkatt’s relationship as similar to two different races falling in love on Earth. I’ve often wondered how humans and inhabitants from other planets will ever get along if some here on Earth can’t even tolerate the thought of two members of different races being together.
I hope that J.R. Barrett continues to write stories from Mari and Ekkatt’s world. As a reader, I want to know more about it.