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Book Review: ‘Hostage’ by Clare Mackintosh

Hello everyone, and welcome back to The Bookworm’s Fantasy! I hope you’re all doing well. Today I’m posting my publication review of Clare Mackintosh’s exciting new psychological thriller, ‘Hostage’. Those of you who read my blog regularly will know that Mackintosh is one of my all-time favourite authors – so I jumped at the chance to receive an ARC. Thanks so much to Sphere Books! So, keep reading to discover my thoughts…

You can save hundreds of lives.

Or the one that matters most . . .

The atmosphere on board the first non-stop flight from London to Sydney is electric. Celebrities are rumoured to be among the passengers in business class, and the world is watching the landmark journey.

Flight attendant Mina is trying to focus on the passengers, instead of her troubled five-year-old daughter back at home – or the cataclysmic problems in her marriage.

But soon after the plane takes off, Mina receives a chilling anonymous note. Someone wants to make sure the plane never reaches its destination. They’re demanding her cooperation . . . and they know exactly how to get it.

It’s twenty hours to landing.

A lot can happen in twenty hours . . .

‘Hostage’ (8th July 2021) is Clare Mackintosh’s fifth novel, following on from ‘I Let You Go’ (2014), ‘I See You’ (July 2016), ‘Let Me Lie’ (2018) and ‘After The End’ (2019). She has also written a non-fiction book named ‘A Cotswold Family Life’ (2019). Clare is patron of the Silver Star Society, a charity based at the John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford, which supports parents experiencing high-risk or difficult pregnancies. She lives in North Wales with her husband and their three children.

The novel has received rave reviews, from the likes of Sun: “Tightly plotted, tense and with an unexpected twist, it’s the book of the summer”, Heat: “Taking the locked room mystery to a new, white-knuckle extreme, this is electrifying” and Daily Express: “Always a compelling storyteller, ex-cop Clare Mackintosh has devised the year’s most intriguing high-concept plot”. Fellow authors have also praised the book, such as Shari Lapena: “A nail-biter of a thriller with an unexpected gut-punch at the end – a fantastic read!”, Lisa Jewell: “Feels like a blockbuster movie; edge of seat, nail biting, propulsive, compulsive, thrilling and just so beautifully done”, Linwood Barclay: “A true page-turner that will have producers lining up with movie offers” and Jane Fallon: “A thrilling rollercoaster of a story .It’ll leave you breathless.”

‘Sleepless’ tells the story of air hostess Mina and her husband Adam. When Mina receives a threatening anonymous note whilst on board the revolutionary flight from London to Sydney, she soon realises that her family back home are in grave danger. But who will she choose to save – her family back home, or the lives of countless others on board the flight?

The narrative is told from the first person perspectives of Mina and Adam, as well as various members on board the flight. The reader is given a deep insight to the characters’ thoughts, feelings and emotions, as well as a distanced account of the events as they unfold. The narrative is mostly told in the present tense, with some allusions to the past. Overall, the narrative is really easy to follow, yet still very effective.

Mina is definitely my favourite character in the novel. She’s a hard working wife and mother to her young daughter Sophia, and loves them more than anything in the world. She and Adam are experiencing some issues in their marriage, and so she jumps at the chance to take the revolutionary non-stop flight from Sydney to London and be away from home for a while. Mina is a brave and strong-willed character, and in the face of adversity she makes a decision that will change her, and many others’, lives forever. Mina is by no means a perfect character and she makes plenty of mistakes, but one thing is for sure – she will do ANYTHING to protect her family and keep them safe. Mina is a very well-written, realistic character, and I felt a real connection to her whilst reading.

Mina’s husband Adam remains at home whilst Mina is flying, working full-time as a police officer and taking care of his daughter Sophia alongside their nanny. Although he does love his family, Adam can be pretty selfish at times, often putting his career before his family. When Adam hears that his wife’s flight has been taken hostage, he is understandably very worried for her safety – but soon, his and his daughter’s safety also come under threat. Adam finds himself (and his daughter) in a very dangerous situation, and he must put all his other problems aside in order to save his daughter. He performs the ultimate sacrifice and risks his own life for the sake of his daughter’s, which I really admired him for. Adam is another very well-written character and I felt a great deal of sympathy towards him.

As the narrative motors onwards, both Mina and Adam find themselves in life-or-death situations. Mina must decide whether to save her family or the lives of all others on board; and Adam must fight for his life in order to keep him and his daughter safe. Will Mina’s flight crash and burn, or will she find a way to overcome the attackers?

So, let’s talk about the ending. There’s a dramatic end scene in which both characters must make some very difficult decisions and ultimately fight for their lives. The truth behind the plane’s hijacking is finally revealed in the most astounding way – I certainly never saw that coming! I felt very satisfied by the ending, and felt that it tied everything together brilliantly. HOWEVER, I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed by the final revelation of the novel – Mackintosh throws in a whole new curveball that I didn’t really think was necessary. It’s such a shame as I was all set to award this novel 5 stars, but awarded it 4 1/2 stars in the end due to my opinions about the ending.

Overall, I highly recommend this novel to those of you who enjoy psychological thrillers, particularly if you like reading more claustrophobic, fast-paced thrillers. This book is unlike any other I’ve ever read before, with a unique premise that was excellently executed. It really forces you to think about what you would do if put in Mina’s situation, which only the most successful psychological thrillers can achieve in my opinion. I urge you all to go out and buy this book – I guarantee you won’t regret it!

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