Hostage by Karen Tayleur

Friday, September 18, 2009

Hostage tells the story of Tully, a girl who is abducted from the chemist on Christmas Eve. It begins with Tully being taken into the police station in the early hours of Christmas Day and being questioned over what really happened. The rest of the novel jumps between Tully’s story, recollections of her childhood and what really occurred.

I loved Karen Tayleur’s previous YA novel Chasing Boys, and Hostage was just as wonderfully written. The language and tone in Hostage was genuine; often in books for teenagers it’s obvious the author is a grown-up, but the way in which this novel was written was so realistic that as I read I felt as if Tully really was telling the story herself. The jumps between present day and Tully’s memories were seamless, and her memories in particular were incredibly authentic.

There were so many details in Hostage that really made the novel, including the snippets from receipts and notes in Tully’s memory tin. Tully recalls moving around a lot, and I loved that I knew all the places, and lived in some of them (in and around Melbourne) – this gave the novel a really strong sense of setting, for me at least. I loved the fact that a character from Chasing Boys made a brief appearance, and that the main characters from that novel were also mentioned (I love a bit of character crossover!).

Tully was a character that I had trouble liking until near the end of the novel, but I think she was meant to be that way; she’s been through some tough stuff in her life, and as a result she puts on a stubborn front. This book was largely centred on her, and I felt maybe that left little room for the other characters that were around her to be properly developed.

Apart from those small things, Hostage was a remarkably realistic and superbly written novel. I’d recommend Hostage to older teenage girls.
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