Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Hostage Three by Nick Lake

Since the death of her mother, Amy has coped by acting out, secretly hoping for her father's attention, to no avail.  But suddenly her father decides he, Amy, and her stepmother will all go on a summer-long trip on their newly purchased yacht.  Amy is actually enjoying herself, but then the boat is seized by a group of Somali pirates.  Now Amy and her family are hostages in a complex negotiation, made even more confusing and she begins to grow close to one of the pirates.

Nick Lake is the author of this year's Printz winner In Darkness.  Like In Darkness, he uses dashes rather than quotations to denote people speaking, which I find annoying and sometimes confusing. 

Amy isn't a particularly likable of sympathetic character, especially at the beginning.  Even though she's in a crappy situation, she doesn't help us to feel for her.  As we get to know her and what really happened with her and her mother she becomes more of a person we can relate to, but, for me, I never truly connected with her character.

The book did a great job, in a completely non-preachy and non-judgmental way, of showing why someone might take on a life of piracy.  The complexities of the situation were very well explained in conversations between Amy and Farouz, the young pirate she develops a relationship with.  We hear about how Somalia is a place of drought and constant war.  How Farouz's parents were killed in one war or another and how his brother, who had always taken care of him, has been imprisoned and in order to provide bail, Farouz has turned to piracy.  There is little other choice if you need money.

Piracy was not excused, but by the end of the book you could certainly sympathize with the people who were doing it.  Some of the pirates seemed like good people, and some did not, as people are.  Not all of them were there for noble reasons like trying to free your brother from jail.

Amy and Farouz develop a romantic relationship.  This is of course very confusing for Amy, who isn't sure she can trust Farouz.  Would he shoot her if he were told to?  Does he care about her enough to disobey orders?  Despite these rather large issues, she goes forward.  It seemed like Amy just wanted someone to care about her.  She had felt alone and isolated for so long, and now here was someone to care about her and talk to.  It didn't mater that the situation was crazy and their relationship was impossible.

Like In Darkness, I didn't find myself engaged in the book.  It was good, I liked it, but it also dragged for me.  Still recommend it for it's thoughtful and seldom heard prospective.

Hostage Three comes out October 15, 2013.

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