In the summer of 1997, Christophe Andre, a humanitarian worker with Doctors Without Borders, was kidnapped in Nazran by men seeking a ransom. He was blindfolded, driven to some unknown location, and locked up in a small room with nothing but a mattress.
In Guy DeLisle’s biography of Andre’s kidnapping, aptly titled Hostage, Andre’s story comes to life in simple illustrations and, with the highest form of complement intended, is pure torture to read.
With little to no dialogue and illustrations that show Andre’s first-person nightmare, Hostage is based on DeLisle’s recordings of Andre’s accounts of the abduction and his attempts at escape. What it lacks in action it makes up for in hundreds of pages of inaction…adding to the pure boredom, terror, and monotony that comes with being locked up in a room for months on end.
A limited color palate also helps add a dream-like feel to this story and in a sense becomes a character itself, helping us feel limited, enclosed, and claustrophobic.
Over the course of four months, we sit patiently with Andre, eating…sitting…eating…sitting, just waiting for a rescue that may or may not ever come. The only thing driving the story forward are the thoughts in his head…and as Andre’s story continues and races to a heart-quickening finale, Hostage becomes quite a page-turner and has an ending that will not leave you disappointed.
Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.