Saturday, 5 January 2013
It's a once-in-a-lifetime thing: a girl on a yacht with her super-rich banker father; a chance for the family to heal after a turbulent time; the peaceful sea, the warm sun ...But a nightmare is about to explode as a group of Somali pirates seizes the boat and its human cargo - and the family becomes a commodity in a highly sophisticated transaction. Hostage 1 is Dad - the most valuable. Amy is Hostage 3. As she builds a strange bond with one of her captors, it becomes brutally clear that the price of a life and its value are very different things.
The opening chapter of the book could not have done a better job of grabbing my attention by the collar and dragging me into the story. Rather than starting at the beginning of the story, it begins with a scene from closer to the end of the book. We're immediately right there, on deck, with a group of apparently fierce, gun-wielding Somali pirates, not really knowing what to make of the chaos that is unfolding before our eyes, but the sense of extreme danger is definitely there - and for me, that pump of adrenaline that you get from that, goes hand-in-hand with a really good thriller. This definitely got the adrenaline pumping!
About a third of the way down the first page we have the line: "There is a gun pointing right at my head". You won't find many sentences that are more charged than that! It was definitely this sentence that originally grabbed me, and by the end of that first chapter, I was totally hooked. It stayed that way for the rest of the book.
After the initial exciting first chapter, the story rewinds three and a half months, and we find ourselves in London, getting to know the main character, Amy (the girl on the boat with the gun pointed at her head), and the kind of life she leads. At first, I really didn't like her character. That's not because she was unrealistic, but because she was the opposite of that - she was a spoilt, rich teenager, who always had to be at the centre of attention for all the wrong reasons. She did stupid things - stupid things that would seriously damage her future - just to annoy her Dad and get some kind of reaction out of him. She was immature, spoilt, and attention-seeking, but I did understand why she did of all this, with the kind of Dad that she has and with all that we find out she's been through. It didn't make me like her any more at that point, but it did make her feel like a real person, so this wasn't really a problem. I also knew from reading the first chapter, that her character was going to go through a drastic change over the next couple of hundred pages.
I was definitely right about this - once the pirates have captured the boat and taken Amy, her family and the crew hostage, she soon begins to change not only the way she acts (necessary for everyone's survival), but also the way she thinks. By the end of the book, I not only liked her character, but I also felt as though I fully understood and respected her. She'd come a long way from the spoilt brat that she started out being.
What I really loved about the story, and what I think made sure I never got bored, or lose interest, after that great opening chapter, was the fact that it didn't stand still for very long - yes, we went back three and half months, to before they even had the yacht - but it wasn't very long before they were on the water, and then soon after that, the pirates arrived. The story didn't hang around with any unnecessary events, and even though it did move very quickly to get to the main part of the story, it didn't feel as though it was being rushed towards these events either. It felt very natural and real.
There was always something going on, and even though for the majority of the book, they were just on the boat as captives (and it would've been so easy for things to become monotonous), something was always happening to put the characters in danger, and that kept the book really exciting.
There's also the case of the unlikely romance on board the ship. This was something that I definitely hadn't expected from the book, so when feelings started to develop between Amy and one of the Somali pirates, things got really complicated, and even more interesting. There was a danger with this that the romance would be so far-fetched, that the relationship wouldn't seem real, and then it would be out of place - but that's not how it turned out at all. Like Amy's character, Farouz (the love interest) seemed real as well, and the way they went about their relationship, in their difficult situations also seemed very realistic to me. At no point did I think "well, that just wouldn't happen". I really wanted things to work out for them, but I knew that things were never going to be straightforward.
The pirates themselves really interested me. When we think of pirates, we think bloodthirsty, selfish, violent, uneducated etc, but these pirates had a definite lack of respect for expectations. They too seemed like real people. They had lives back home, families, their own problems - they were just normal people who had had some bad luck in their lives, and who had turned to piracy out of necessity, rather than by choice (for the most part, anyway). I really enjoyed getting to know them all as characters, and as disgusting and terrible as they could sometimes be, I did actually get to like some of them!
So although Hostage Three isn't the kind of book that I usually go for, I ended up loving every moment of it. It was a unique, powerful, brave and beautiful story, and it's certainly one that I will never forget! I highly recommend it!
Posted by Dani C at 16:33