Nick Lake has written a richly layered book. This is the story of a wealthy young girl and her family being taken hostage by pirates. But that's only the surface. As Amy narrates the events that happen when their yacht is captured by pirates off the coast of Somalia, she also shares other memories. She tells of how her stepmother came into their lives. She explains why she was expelled from school on the last day of final exams. And she remembers her mother. All the mixed emotions of a young woman turning eighteen, grieving for her mother, angry with her father, resenting her stepmother, and lost in her own rebellious behavior is bottled up inside her. She leaks it out a drop at a time as she works her way through the days of the hostage situation and her dangerous friendship with one of the pirates.
Besides all the emotional weight of Amy's memories, there is also the larger picture of the world around the yacht. From Farouz (the translator for the pirates), we learn of why many of the men became pirates in the first place. He tells about the wars, the rebels, the corruption, the famine and what people in the area have had to do to survive. One of the pirates is amazed at the medicine cabinet on the yacht because there are pain killers easily available. He explains that when his children are sick, there is no medicine. As much as we look at things with our own viewpoint, we still begin to see what could make a father desperate enough to start hijacking and kidnapping just to get some money for his family. It's a very clear difference between how the captors and the captives are accustomed to live.
If you like realistic fiction with intense drama and suspense, or real-life stories such as the one on which they based the movie "Captain Phillips," then you will probably appreciate this book. This is a story that makes you stop and reconsider the things you take for granted each day. There are scenes of graphic violence, swearing, and other mature topics. This is a book for teens and adults, not for younger readers. You can see some of the comments from reviewers on the book's webpage.
I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley. It will be published in November 12, 2013.