By Nick Lake
Published January 2013
Reviewed by Naomi Dinmore
A luxury yacht in the Indian Ocean.
My dad: A rich banker. Grey hair, charming smile, sharp teeth.
The stepmother: don’t ask.
Me: I’m Amy. I’m sort of nothing-ish, except for the piercings.
And the guns? The Pirates: Farouz? You can’t see them yet. This is before.
This was supposed to be the trip of a lifetime. The risk was meant to be tiny. But that means it has to happen to someone, doesn’t it?
This is honestly one of the best books I have read in a while. Sorry, this will contain spoilers because I cannot talk about it without kinda giving it away…
Amy Fields travels with her dad and stepmother on a yacht around the world. She is quite a rebellious, enclosed character, she got kicked out of her final A level exam, has many piercings, goes clubbing and is always listening to dubstep on her iPod. She describes dubstep as: ”disembodied voices… broken, fractured, seeming to come at you like distant singing from the radio of some destroyed spaceship. They’re like the voices of dead people you love”.
One of the reasons she is so enclosed is because her mum committed suicide when Amy was only 10. She does not like Sarah- the stepmother, because she loved her mum. ”Before” as she refers to it, she loved classical music and was a talented violin player- one of the best in the country. She doesn’t play it until later on in the story.
The plot sort of reminded me of Infinite Sky - unexpected and unrequited love between two opposing sides. Basically, the yacht is captured by some modern day pirates, and one of the pirates - the youngest - Farouz is the one Amy gets to know most. I found it very interesting as it gave the reader an insight into the Pirate’s life and childhood. It is also based off a true occurrence in the news about Somali pirates. This is similar to Lake’s other book: ”In Darkness” (which I haven’t read yet but I know is about the Haitian Earthquake) which is also inspired by a true occurrence. Anyway, towards the end of the book, Amy and Farouz get together, and it was one of those moments where I was very scared because the ha got together and there was still too many pages to read…
But, I was very disappointed as I progressed. There was an extremely cliché bit as Amy runs off to Somalia with Farouz and they rescue his brother from prison and they live happily ever after. I hated it - it was way too simple and boring. Apparently my face was of distaste as I read that, according to my mother.
However, when I turned the page, it was blank, except for one islated word: ”No.” the next was: ”No, that is not what happens.” and the next: ”But I imagine it afterwards. I imagine it so many times, until it is a scene in my head, incredibly vivid. A film. That I can watch whenever I like.”
My heart almost leapt with joy at that. Yay! not so cliché! But I almost wished afterwards that is what happened. *SPOILER* Farouz gets killed by the Navy. He was innocent in Amy’s eyes, and my eyes too, as we were given an insight into his struggles and his horrific childhood, his dead parents and his imprisoned brother. This was feel-generating, John Green style.
I absolutely loved the structure, though. At the end, there is an epilogue titled ”three months later”. In this bit, although she misses Farouz greatly, her life is almost back on track. She now refers to her stepmother by her actual name. She also meets up with Farouz’s brother who Is out of prison. She also plans to go to violin college. Then, she recalls one of Farouz’s best stories. It is a heartwarming story about him and his brother.
A part of the form I really liked was how Lake used dashes to indicate speech instead of speech marks. This was original and suited Amy’s character - quite enclosed and shy.
I would recommend it to older teens as there are some older issues and themes in the book eg violence and death, rape, the value of money and swearing.
I would definitely give it a full 5/5.