Daily Graphic Novel Recommendation 182


by Guy Delisle
Genre notes: memoir, terrorism, kidnapping, psychology
436 pages
ISBN: 1770462791 (Amazon)

This is going to sound like a weak recommendation but I don't mean it to be: Hostage is the perfect book to get from the library. At least it would have been for me. I don't need to own it—though I do.

It does its job really well. It relates Christophe André's real-life kidnapping from a Doctors Without Borders office and the time he spent as a hostage while negotiations for the One Million Dollars required for his release sputters and stalls and lurches and... well. The trouble is: when you're a hostage, you don't really get to do much. It's a lot of sitting there cuffed to a radiator and a lot of going slightly mad. A lot of nothing really at all. And Delisle, I think, nails this. As Anderé suffers from the sameyness of his routine, I suffered as a reader. His boredom was my boredom. Which, again, sounds like a knock on the book but it really really isn't—Delisle does exactly the right thing by not embellishing, by not turning André's time as a hostage into a thrill ride.

And at the same time, as boredom creeps in, there's this gradually rising sense of tension and anxiety. André feels it and because he feels it, the reader does too. Is today the day? Surely it will be today. What is happening? What are those noises? Will I be home in time for my sister's wedding in three months? They want how much?? Should I try to escape? I don't know where I am or the language at all. I don't know if everyone around is in on it or if I call help loudly enough will I be rescued. I could attempt an escape but I might just complicate things since my release will surely happen tomorrow. Oh, I... I'm going to die here aren't I?

The whole experience was excruciating and delicious and now that the tension is gone because I know exactly how everything plays out, I don't see myself reading the book again. It was great and while I don't regret owning it (because ownership means I can lend it), in retrospect I would have been fine checking it out from the library.

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