Hostage Three by Nick Lake
Bloomsbury, 2013 ISBN: 9 781408 838372.
(Age: 15+) Highly recommended. Hostage Three is an atmospheric novel told in first person and recounting a series of events which led to the capture of the yacht The Daisy May by Somali pirates and the tedious negotiations which followed. Amy is the narrator of this compelling story which begins in London on the morning of Amy's final exam, she is trying to get her father's attention by rebelling against the school rules. She arrives with piercings and leaves with a lit cigarette; her rebellion has cost her what would otherwise have been a successfully completed final year. In response to this her father, who is never home, has The Stepmother tell Amy about his plan to sail around the world. Dismissing the plan Amy is shocked to learn that the plan is actually going to happen, her father had bought a yacht and they were leaving the following week. The family spend the next few weeks on board The Daisy May until they are assaulted by Somali parasites. Unable to reach help the crew surrender and are held hostage in Eyl until the yacht's owner can pay the ransom. The pirates refer to the hostages by number to avoid familiarity but something goes wrong when the youngest pirate begins to spend time with Amy. It is a forbidden love on both sides. The couple must keep their love a secret until Farouz can free himself and his brother from the terrors of their Somali lives.
I highly recommend it for mature audiences aged fifteen and up as it makes the reader reflect on how lucky they are to have a life where hunger is not a daily battle. At first I was wary of this novel, without speech marks and chapter-less, written in a similar way to Tim Winton's work, but Nick Lake makes his writing flow despite the his unusual choice in writing style. This beautifully crafted novel is a gem just waiting to be discovered and I can't help but re-iterate the Daily Mail's conviction, Hostage Three is unputdownable! I look forward to reading more of Nick Lake's work.
Kayla Gaskell (Student, age 17)