As Amy sets out to sea with her family on a yacht, she's only thinking about the peaceful waters and the warm sun. But she doesn't get either after a group of pirates seize the boat and its human cargo, and the family becomes a commodity in a highly sophisticated transaction. Hostage One is Amy's father--the most valuable. Hostage Three is Amy, who can't believe the nightmare she's in. But something even stranger happens as she builds a bond with one of her captors, making it brutally clear that the price of life and its value are two very different things.
What worked for me had to be the writing style that is courageous in thinking outside of the box. It's fast paced and at times kept me at the edge of my seat. There's just enough backstory of Amy and Somalian pirate Farouz to not hold back the pacing. I do think this helps the reader gain some empathy to the whys behind pirating. Also we see why Amy is numb inside.
I also liked how the protagonist, Amy grows from being a self-absorbed teen to one that is stuck on a yacht out in the middle of nowhere. She's still haunted with the death of her mother and rebels against her father she never sees to the stepmother she resents. I thought the author did a great job showing us how a horrific event can make a character or anyone look inside and re-evaluate what is really important.
I'm not a real fan of books that jump around with different points of view but in this novel I really loved reading Farouz's story about the horrors of war in Somali and what lead him to becoming an English translator for the pirates. The author does a great job of showing us both worlds-that of privilege and that of poverty. When both worlds collide we can't help but gain some empathy toward those who feel that the only way to survive is to be modern day 'Robin Hoods', taking from the rich to help the poor.
What I did have a hard time with had to be Amy saying she was falling in love with one of the captors. Let's just say these pirates or as they like to be called Coast Guards are nothing like Jack Sparrow. There is violence and hints of a near rape in this novel. I think Amy probably suffered from Stockholm Syndrome. Farouz, is closer to her age and shows her some kindness among the horrors they have to deal with. This reminded me of the Linda Blair movie SWEET HOSTAGE where she falls in love with her kidnapper who also ends up suffering a similar fate. But this is just my opinion.
Overall though I enjoyed this fast-paced realistic tale of a teen captive and the emotional journey she takes to find the strength within herself to survive.
She thinks that she is ordinary and she is also struggling with the loss of her mother. She doesn't have the closest relationship with her Dad and stepmom, but she is definitely acting out. I felt for her pain, and for her confusion and longing for attention and have been there in certain ways myself. I ate up all of her memories of her mother and really enjoyed how that was woven into the story, however painful and emotional.
Once her and her family were hostages, I really found myself experiencing a high range of emotions with them, and not wanting to put the book down, but to read just one more page. The pirates had a range of personalities and their own codes of behavior. I begrudgingly ended up respecting Ahmad, the leader in some ways, and surprised myself by how much I enjoyed the character of Farouz. As he and Amy talk and share their stories, his is so complex and it is not so cut and dry anymore that he is purely a bad guy. Sure, he is doing bad things to people, but I'd never really considered motivations behind their actions.
The plot was pretty layered and touched on a lot, depression, forbidden love, and questions of the future. The theme of family is strong in this one, showing the many different ways loyalty and sacrifice can look like. How we carry memories in our hearts, how it hurts to remember, but they are also a source of strength. But it also shows how painful it can be to have attachments and what we can be forced to do.
The ending is pretty well done, and I can't think of any other way that it could possibly be realistic. It is bittersweet, but laced with hope and the ever present pain, but learning to heal and let go.
Bottom Line: Fast paced and emotional.