I so enjoyed Nick Lake’s In Darkness, I was thrilled to get a copy of Hostage Three from his publisher. Hostage Three is an intense, fast moving story of Amy whose family’s yacht is taken by Somali pirates. Amy is extremely wealthy but her life has not been easy. Her brilliant but emotionally unstable mother is no longer with her and a new stepmother is on the scene. We first meet Amy when she has a gun to her head. The narrative then jumps to events before the yacht trip right before she takes her final exams, showing up to school with a face full of piercings and a cigarette to light up during the test. She gets her kicked out on her last day. Surprisingly her workaholic father decides to take a year off and sail around the world in a luxurious yacht called the Daisy Mae. The voyage must pass near Yemen and Somalia, putting the passengers and crew at risk for pirates. Although they take precautions, they are taken. This is a terrifying and high intensity scene. Amy befriends Farouz, the pirate who speaks English and acts as a translator. As their friendship deepens the story of the pirates becomes less black and white and introduces us to why this way of life came to be. This is a complicated love story and a story of loss as we learn more about Amy’s mother. This book is full of well researched stories and the reader will learn a great deal about Somalia and the history of the pirates. I enjoyed the stories from Somalia such as The Camel and the love story between Arabia and Africa that created Somali’s culture. I also enjoyed how music played a part in the friendship between Farouz and Amy. From the first page to the last, I didn’t want to put it down. I even put off watching the mid season finale of The Walking Dead to finish it. I highly recommend this book. It is one of my favorites from 2013.
Ideas for discussing with teens:
What would it be like to have wealth like Amy? How does that help or hurt her?
Why do you think she got all of those piercings and messed up her exam at the last minute?
Talk about Amy’s feelings for Farouz.
Talk about the story of the camel tail in the sky.
Discuss the significance of Amy’s birthday cake. Talk about what everyone went through to make it happen. Why do you think it was that important.
Discuss Amy’s Before and After.
Discuss how Farouz became a pirate. Do the ends justify the means?
Discuss Amy and Farouz’s love of music and their instruments.
Discuss when Amy’s mother said the turtle was telling her to hold on. (Page 156)
Discuss this passage, “I closed my eyes. Dad was wrong and the stepmother was wrong: I wasn’t self-destructive, and I didn’t have a death wish. I knew it most fiercely in that moment – not because I wasn’t scared, but because I was excited. I wanted to live. I wanted to experience everything.” (Page 254)
Discuss the end of the book when Amy says, “Mom and Farouz, they will be my hostages. I will carry them round inside me, secretly, and never let them go, only ever keep them safe.” (Page 368)