Hostage Three by Nick Lake

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Hostage Three by Nick Lake

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Category: Teens
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Edge-of-your-seat thriller that deals with important societal issues - the banking crisis, piracy, etc - but also with personal tragedy and family relationships. Beautifully and subtly written, it packs an absolutely humongous punch. Highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 401 Date: January 2013
Publisher: Bloomsbury
External links: Author's website

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Longlisted for the 2014 CILIP Carnegie Medal

We stand on the diving platform of our yacht, in the brutal sunlight.

Dad's arm is around my shoulders. I can smell his sweat, the tang of it. This is fairly unusual. In real life, Dad smells of Clinique's moisturiser for me and a casual day for him is taking off his cufflinks. Now, he's in a torn, short-sleeved shirt. But then this whole situation is so far from normal it's ridiculous.

There's a gun pointing right at my head.

The pirates are above us, the blazing ball of the sun overhead, frying us all, bleaching the barrel of the gun to a searing, dancing white.

You want to read on, right? Right?! Well, then you'll need to go back to the beginning of the story - and that's not the beginning of this book. Amy's family have left on a round-the-world trip. The intention is to mend relationships after what has been a turbulent time. Amy has had a meltdown, messing up her A levels, partied too much and gone a bit too far with the piercings. She can't stand her stepmother and guards a catalogue of resentments against her workaholic, remote father. But the voyage turns into crisis when the family's yacht is kidnapped by Somali pirates. And the family is put under even more strain when a relationship develops between Amy and Farouz, the pirates' translator. As Amy learns more about Farouz and his background, she also discovers a great deal about herself, her family, and about life itself...

Wow. I loved, loved, loved this powerful story. It takes an inside look at many contemporary political talking points - globalisation, the banking crisis, conflict in the developing world, piracy. So it is asking its readers to look outwards - something adolescents sometimes have trouble doing. But it's also a tremendously intimate look at a young girl's coming of age. Amy, despite her father's wealth, inhabits a very familiar emotional landscape. She rebels at school. She resents her stepmother. She has difficulty connecting with her father. And a devastating event in her past is exacerbating all of these problems. With all this stuff going on in her head, she is very vulnerable and it's easy to see why she falls for one of the pirates. Farouz is both a rebellion and a fulfilment of a genuine need.

The first chapter is an absolute barnstormer, opening as it does at the crisis point of the family's kidnapping by the pirates and only returning later to the beginning of the story. I'd defy anyone not to want to read on after that full-frontal assault. The writing is clear and lucid, but also elegant and sometimes edging the profound. And, although it's incredibly theme-rich, the message I took away was one that life is precious, and we must live it to its full, as best we can and as much we can. Always.

Highly recommended. To everyone.

I think you should also look at In Darkness, also by Nick Lake, a fantastic book which deals with the Haitian earthquake through the prism of past and present. YOu might also enjoy Blood Ninja by Nick Lake.

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Buy Hostage Three by Nick Lake at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Hostage Three by Nick Lake at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Hostage Three by Nick Lake at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Hostage Three by Nick Lake at

Booklists.jpg Hostage Three by Nick Lake is in the Top Ten Teen Books of 2013.


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