As a part of the Nick Lake blog tour, we're reviewing Hostage Three. This book was originally published in 2012, and received strong acclaim.
I was personally blown away by this book - to the point where I closed it, and went "Oh snap. I have no idea how to review this." However, I will definitely try to do it justice…
Hardcover, 369 pages
Published November 12th 2013 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens (first published December 20th 2012)
Format read: Finished copy courtesy of publisher
The last thing Amy planned to do this summer was sail around the world trapped on a yacht with her father and her stepmother. Really, all she wanted was to fast-forward to October when she’ll turn
eighteen and take control of her own life.
Aboard the Daisy May, Amy spends time sunbathing, dolphin watching and forgetting the past as everything floats by . . . until one day in the Gulf of Aden another boat appears. A boat with guns and pirates – the kind that kill.
Immediately, the pirates seize the boat and its human cargo. Hostage One is Amy’s father – the most valuable. Hostage Two: her stepmother. And Hostage Three is Amy, who can’t believe what’s happening. As the ransom brokering plays out, Amy finds herself becoming less afraid, and even
stranger still, drawn to one of her captors, a teenage boy who wants desperately to be more than who he has become. Suddenly it becomes brutally clear that the price of life and its value are two very different things . . .
Hostage Three is a harrowing recounting of a multi-day pirate takeover told from the eyes of Amy Fields, a wealthy, half-British, half-American girl who has been (begrudgingly) sailing around the world with her dad and stepmother. The story is a recollection, and not a present-tense memory from Amy; she's revisiting the events which have led her to where she is today.
Lake does a wonderful job of showing readers how the temperamental, self-destructive Amy - who is still feeling lost after a family tragedy - ends up on the around-the-world trip in the first place. Despite efforts to connect with her from her father and stepmother, it's Amy's innate rebellious attitude that carries her through the first leg of the trip. She's angry, determined and doesn't care who knows it.
However, once the pirates take over the ship, Amy's attitude begins to shift.
As the pirates begin staking their claim on the boat and over Amy's life, Lake begins expertly interspersing recollections from Amy's own past, with the rawness of the hostage situation, and memories from Farouz - a grey-eyed pirate who just happens to have more compassion than the others - showing just how and why all of these individuals have ended up on their respective path.
Lake is especially skilled at showing how the real-world devastation and war-torn regions of Somalia, have impacted assumptions about human nature on both sides of the hostage equation, and just how their enforced time together begins to change perceptions on both sides. It's stark, brutal honesty about human nature, interwoven with a tense drama that continues to ratchet up until the explosive denouement.
If there's one minor issue that readers may find with Hostage Three, it would be the romantic undertones that develop between Amy and Farouz. While Lake does a credible job of explaining just how the allure of Amy and Farouz's respective lives would attract the other, and how both teens are essentially young souls who have been lost in the complexities of real-world changes that are out of their control, the circumstances of their meeting will still likely be hard for some readers to overlook.
(I've seen a couple of reviews cite Stockholm Syndrome, and Amy does acknowledge that a lot of her infatuation is likely because of Stockholm Syndrome at one point.)
However, their fledging relationship does bring up some interesting questions for educators and parents to discuss with younger readers - including what it means to have to be a young adult forced to grow up quickly in an adult world, the universality of difficult life circumstances, and what it means to adapt to what life throws at you.
This book also serves as a good reminder as to why it's smart to take risks while reading. This is one of those books that I don't think I would have necessarily picked up without Lizzy's recommendation, but I am now so, so thankful that I did. My heart may feel a little raw from Amy's journey, but I know that I've also come out a better reader because of it.
I highly recommend this book for fans of contemporary fiction, but also for readers who like taking risks. This is one that is worth it. Trust me.