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Hostage Three by Nick Lake

Hostage three coverA review by Nalini Haynes

★★★★★ five out of five stars

Amy Fields is Hostage Three, renamed by Somali pirates to dehumanise her in case they ‘have’ to kill her. After the opening scene where the pirates are about to shoot Amy, Hostage Three time-shifts to three months earlier, explaining how Amy went from schoolgirl to captive about to be shot.

Cut scenes develop Amy’s history, exploring her memories to build convincing family relationships in the present. Amy’s mother suffered from mental illness, behaving erratically until her suicide that devastated Amy.

Amy and Farouz, a young pirate, fall in love. Farouz shares his story of a happy family destroyed by rebels murdering his parents and his brother Abdirashid sacrificing himself to save them both. Amy’s story paints her father as a pirate – a merchant banker partially responsible for the Global Financial Crisis – contrasting with Farouz’s story of a country torn by war, whose impoverished people turn to piracy to survive.

Hostage Three is like Kiterunner although the central character and storyteller is a white half-British half-American teenage girl. Although Hostage Three examines many similar issues, starting from a more relatable framework may make it more readable for some. Hostage Three is neither as brutal nor as explicit as Kiterunner.

My only criticism of Hostage Three is Amy’s claim that her mother compartmentalised her illness, hiding it from all at work except her manager. This may have been meant as the naivety of a teen but it appeared the author believed it was possible to conceal an illness so severe the sufferer was hospitalised repeatedly, even undergoing electroshock therapy for depression.

Hostage Three is riveting: a powerful, compelling story with believable characters bridging worlds, creating understanding while fearful. Set aside a few hours to read this book in one sitting. This is masterpiece is highly recommended for discussion groups. Like Kiterunner, Hostage Three will become required reading for secondary and tertiary literature classes.

Nalini is an award-winning writer and artist as well as managing editor of Dark Matter Zine.


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