Captive: Book, Movie, & Giveaway

Over ten years after Atlanta criminal Brian Nichols broke out of jail, went on a killing rampage, and held drug addict Ashley Smith hostage, a new movie, based on Smith's story, entitled Captive is coming out in theatres.

A few weeks ago, Justin and I had the opportunity to go see a screening of Captive in theatres. Despite the fact that I recalled the event, it was a very humbling experience when I realized the whole episode had taken place in Duluth, GA, a mere 30 minutes from where I lived, at the time, and only 15 minutes away from where I was attending college. Just like Ashley, I had disregarded my parent's caution about the killer on the streets; he was fleeing Georgia and heading to a neighboring state, right? There was no way he would stick around for punishment…

When I went to sleep that night, I wasn't the tiniest bit concerned that this guy was still in Georgia, let alone holding another person hostage. Then the news stories came on: she had read to him from The Purpose Driven Life and that had saved her. She had instilled a belief in God in a crazy criminal person, and this was amazing. God had saved her life.

Of course, much like all God stories, Justin and I didn't realize until seeing the movie that she had given Brian Nichols drugs. In fact, she had given him the kind of drugs that make you hyper and then sedate you to the point of possible depression. Was it really all God that saved this woman's life? Or was it the drugs? A believer in God myself, I'm willing to give The Purpose Driven Life a bit of credit here and suggest that possibly it was both. Without her ability to maintain her sanity and keep Brian Nichols calm, the likeliness of more deaths and people getting hurt would have been inevitable. She definitely held herself together very well despite being under a huge amount of stress.

The one thing I disliked most about the movie was the idea that Atlanta and Duluth are one in the same. This actually struck Justin as odd too. Once Brian Nichols was outside the perimeter of the city, there was no way that he or Ashley could have seen the sunrise over the city. Atlanta is just simply not that big.

Let's talk a little bit about the two cities.

When you live in Georgia, you are either ITP (inside the perimeter of I-285) or OTP (outside the perimeter of I-285). (I-285 makes a circle around the main city of Atlanta.) If you live ITP, you probably never venture OTP, and vice versa. Justin and I are the exception. ;) People who live OTP usually consider Atlanta to be scary and full or crime as well as incredibly confusing to navigate. People ITP are, crazy enough, typically (in the 2000s+) wealthy and rarely travel more than a few miles to work and back.

Does Duluth, GA look ITP to you?

Then there is Duluth in particular – an area that was rapidly declining in the early 2000s after two new malls were built in Gwinnett County: Mall of Georgia and Discover Mills (now Sugarloaf Mills). Duluth was never known as a place rife with drug addicts, but it's also not one of the wealthiest parts of town either. The decline of Gwinnett Place Mall, in Duluth, led to more Hispanics and Asians moving into the area and the elite class dispersing to other areas of the state (the older ones moving north to get away from crime and the younger ones moving back toward the city).

In other words, Duluth wasn't (and still isn't) a scary part of town where drug addicts, criminals, and losers go to hang out nor is it a place where the rich live. It's just your average run-of-the-mill suburban city (perhaps city implies it is bigger than it is? town?) where a mix of upper and lower middle class live. Plain jane and boring.

Atlanta, on the other hand, is made up of multiple "cities" that contain a wide variety of individuals – the upper, upper class in Buckhead, and the lower, lower class elsewhere. (Justin won't let me travel to areas of the city where the really poor live, so I can't really say…) Then there are the OTP people who travel ITP to work. Housing is cheaper OTP and businesses pay more ITP, so why not?

That's why when the movie producers indicated that Atlanta and Duluth were one in the same, I got all up in arms about it. In my opinion, if they want to imply that Atlanta is a scary place, don't mention Duluth at all. I'd be willing to go along with it, since there are parts of Atlanta that can be scary. If they want to imply that Duluth is scary, don't show me a sunrise over Atlanta and suggest that everything was scary last night, but today it's all good. No. It's either scary or it's not; it's either Atlanta or it's not. Pick one.

Despite all of the irritation I experienced watching Captive, by the end I was nearly in tears. The acting wasn't great and I feel like a bit more research could have gone into the making of the film, but I did recall the event taking place in Atlanta and experienced the realization that this could have happened to me or anyone else I know and love.

Shortly thereafter I got my hands on Ashley Smith's book Unlikely Angel which has since been republished as Captive. In it, she details the story through her own voice about what happened that day. Once again, unimpressed with the writing, I still felt a deep connection to the story as she described places she went that day and things she did that I was familiar with. Throughout my whole experience with both the book and movie, I found myself questioning (and thankful for) the events that took place to get Brian Nichols into the safety of her home and all that she did to prevent him from going out and killing any others.

If you live outside of Georgia, do you remember the story of Brian Nichols and Ashley Smith? If you lived in Georgia in 2005, were you afraid when you realized Brian Nichols was on the loose? Did you do anything different that day? Would you have been able to handle yourself as well as Ashley did in a hostage situation?


Captive, the movie, is coming to the big screen on September 18th. In the mean time, if you'd like to read Ashley Smith's story, here's your chance! FlyBy Promotions has provided me with one copy of Captive, the book, to give away to a blog reader; all you have to do is enter by September 11th! Kapeesh?

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.


  1. I do remember it on the news. I am a scaredy-cat, so I had my doors locked- just in case he was coming through WV.

    And speaking of geography lessons for Hollywood, at the beginning of the movie for Nights in Rodanthe, the doctor was coming from the north, yet he took the ferry to the island. So, he went hundreds of miles south to get to Rodanthe? Could have just taken the bridge on the north end of the island. But I understand, it makes a great visual.

  2. I don't remember that story but it sounds terrifying. I just read a book about Ted Bundy and after he escaped prison the second time, he attacked more people and killed three. They think he may have even murdered more people during that time that they don't know about. It's important to take those warnings seriously and set your alarm and stay inside as much as possible until they catch the person!

    1. Too true! I have learned my lesson. I'm hoping that there won't be any well-known killers escaping from prison any time in the near future though…

  3. I remembered when this happened... But I don't think I could have handled it as well as she did!

  4. I was not familiar, I would hope I would remain calm.

  5. I was not familiar with this story prior to reading your blog. I'm not sure if I would have been as calm.

  6. I remember hearing about this story in the news. I might be calm also because I'm not really a hysterical person in a crisis situation.

  7. I was not familiar with this story.I don't know if i would've remained calm

  8. I don't recall hearing about this. But I love to read stories like this and would be thrilled to win a copy. Thank you

  9. didnt know anything about it, but definitely have plenty of wierd ppl around here.

  10. I remember it well and could hardly believe it was happening!

    kimberlybreid at hotmail dot com

  11. I'm sure I wouldn't have been as calm as Ashley!

  12. No, I haven't heard of this story. I probably wouldn't be able to be too calm.

  13. I vaguely remember the story. I would have tried to remain as calm as possible but honestly without being in the situation can't really say for sure.

  14. I am not sure I remember the original event. I would hope that I would remain calm in a very difficult situation.

    allibrary (at) aol (dot) com

  15. I had never heard of this before, but the book and movie look amazing! I'd love to read it! Then see the movie. I would hope I could pull myself through a situation like this, but I guess we never know until we are put in that type of situation!

    mstellwag at hotmail .com

  16. I had not heard about this story before. I don't think there is any way that I would have stayed as calm as she did though!

  17. I had just recently seen another blog post on this story but had not heard of it before then. I would have panicked.

  18. I am not familiar with the story.I don't know if i could have remained calm


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