From the Publisher
“Perceptive and harrowing. . . . An inventive narrative construction . . . plays on the highly unstable situation of this utterly compelling read.” Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Intelligent, empathetic, and eye-opening.” Booklist, starred review
“Vivid and poignant. . . . The narrative twist is brilliant, taking readers on an emotional ride to the very last page.” School Library Journal, starred review
The New York Times Book Review - Sara Corbett
[Lake] deftly paints the surreal and symbolic clash of worlds as Amy's family and their Somali hijackers settle in for what becomes several weeks of ransom negotiations and maneuverings by the British Navy…Lake's writing is at its most vivid and authentic when describing the young pirate's chilling back story, rendering in unflinching detail the stricken state of Somalia and the desperate circumstances that lead men toward piracy…Farouz's narrative is hard-edged and refreshingly insistent throughout. It may require a luxury yacht, a self-involved banker and his rebellious rich-girl daughter to sail teenage readers into these waters, but we can be glad that they get to make the trip. Lake's novel is a skillfully paced thriller that ends in heart-pounding tragedy, but the real achievement is the offshore glimpse it provides of a misunderstood, war-ravaged country.
The Somali pirates who seize a British yacht dehumanize their victims by giving them numbers. Thus, millionaire banker James Fields and his new wife become Hostages One and Two. Hostage Three is his 17-year-old daughter, Amy, who narrates this perceptive and harrowing novel from Printz-winner Lake (In Darkness). Despite virtuosic talent with the violin and a posh upbringing, Amy is sullen and adrift when the story opens, having sabotaged her final A-level exam and had her face pierced with multiple bolts—all to get back at her father for remarrying too soon after her mother’s death. Amy initially greets his plan to sail around the world with apathy, but having a gun put to her head awakens her will to live, especially when the gunman is Farouz, the pirates’ interpreter, with whom Amy has secretly developed a romance. Through Farouz, Amy learns about the Somalis’ daily struggle to survive the desert and decades of war (“All our stories are about hunger,” Farouz tells her). An inventive narrative construction (Lake offers alternate endings) plays on the highly unstable situation of this utterly compelling read. Ages 12–up. (Nov.)
VOYA - Jonathan Ryder
Ever since her mother committed suicide, seventeen-year-old Amy Fields has been a shell. She does not want to "be" anything; she just wants to "be." She especially does not want to play her violin, as doing so reminds her of her mother, both the good and bad times. This existence comes to an end after her final year of high school, when her father decides to take her and her stepmother on a cruise around the world in his recently-purchased luxury yacht. Off the coast of Somalia, the months of enforced family togetherness are interrupted when the yacht is hijacked by pirates. Now, Amy finds herself with a new name, "Hostage Three," and must come to terms with the fact that she has become a pawn in a game of organized extortion in which the ultimate price may be her life. All the while, she must also deal with her feelings of resentment towards her father and stepmother, her grief at her mother's suicide, and the question of whether the feelings she has towards one of her captors are real, or are simply the product of the considerable stresses on her mind. The book is well written. The characters are believable, and the story is well paced. The narrative is multi-layered, and deals with issues that range from grief, to mental illness, to Somali culture, to Stockholm syndrome. The story takes several twists and turns, with an ending that can best be described as "bittersweet." The author takes great pains to give the Somali pirates' side of the story by having one of them present their activities as nothing more than (admittedly highly illegal) business transactions and questioning whether highly paid executives are really all that different from pirates in a wooden skiff. This book would be a valuable addition to any high school library. Reviewer: Jonathan Ryder
Children's Literature - Barbara Monroe
The sun is blazing down on three people standing on their yacht’s diving platform. Pirates are above them with guns pointing. The dinghy from the Navy closes in. The pirates scream for them to stop or hostage will die. The dinghy continues to move forward. The order is given to shoot Hostage ThreeAmy. “I stand there, waiting for the bang, but then I think, no, I won’t hear it, will I?...I won’t be aware of anything. There will be, for me, only energy and violence, and no sound at all.” It is that kind of thoughtful writing that makes this story not just about a hostage taking but also an exploration of life, love and the appreciation and understanding of both. Go back three and a half months earlier. Amy is on her way to school but it is merely perfunctory. Amy does not respond to her father’s text and goes out clubbing. It is her stepmom, at breakfast, who tells Amy that her Dad bought a yacht and they are going on a trip. Amy does not believe it because Dad has never done what he says in the past. But on the fifth of July the Daisy May sets sail with a complete crew, Amy, Dad and Stepmom. We immediately connect to the story through the details and insights of Amy, a struggling seventeen-year-old trying to figure out what to feel, and think. She quashes her emotions until the pirates show up. Then Amy finds the release she needs in an unexpected friendship with the young translator. The frightening reality makes their relationship all the more complex and interesting. But she is not some flippant romantic. Each encounter brings her closer to understanding herself, her mother’s suicide, life and love. The page layout adds to the texture of the story: the lack of chapter headings, an em dash indicates dialogue, and blank pages set up a rhythm. Well-written and worth reading. Reviewer: Barbara Monroe; Ages 12 up.
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—Amy Fields walks out of her A Level exams required for entrance into the Royal Academy; she is still grieving over her mother's death and cares little about the future. Her rich father and new stepmother hope that sailing around the world will allow much-needed family bonding, but the idyllic trip ends when Somalian pirates seize their yacht and hold them for ransom. Tension is palpable as the frightened family and crew become pawns in the businesslike negotiations. Although carefully guarded with machine guns, the British teen observes a pecking order among her captors and befriends Farouz, the pirates' handsome translator. They share memories of personal pain that include Amy's mother's suicide, the execution of Farouz's parents, and the political imprisonment of his brother. Their stories are vivid and poignant, adding layers to a rich characterization, especially details of Somalian culture and mythology. Amy falls in love, understanding Farouz's vow to use ransom money to free his brother, but is startled back to reality when he agrees to follow orders to shoot her on command. Circumstances become dire when she learns secrets about her father's business that jeopardize their release, and rival pirates and the navy get involved. The author playfully tells Amy's account of the rescue the way she hoped it would play out, and then again, as it actually happened. The narrative twist is brilliant, taking readers on an emotional ride to the very last page.—Vicki Reutter, Cazenovia High School, NY
A diamond in the rough that, pared down, could be a glittering gem. Amy Fields is a privileged 17-year-old who has had a dose of tragedy--her mother's suicide--to which she reacts with blame and shame. The blame is for her remaining parent, her father; the shame is for her inability to see her mother's suicide coming. Forced by her father and stepmother to accompany them on a round-the-world cruise in her father's posh yacht, she is at first withdrawn and surly. Then, in the Gulf of Aden, Somali pirates capture the yacht, and Amy begins to experience a bit of life outside the bubble as she and her family are held hostage. As the tale unfolds, assumptions about right and wrong, First World and Third World crumble under Amy's (and readers') growing awareness. Things are complicated further when Amy falls in love with one of the pirates and he with her. Printz winner (In Darkness, 2012) Lake's writing is often breathtakingly illuminating, but there is too much of it. Three metaphors are used when one will do, as the rambling first-person narration seemingly disgorges Amy's every thought and forces readers to do their own filtering. Readers will most likely forgive the lack of narrative control, however, as they become caught up in the layered nuances of this original story. (Fiction. 14 & up)