Graphic Novel · Nonfiction · Review

Hostage by Guy Delisle

Hostage by Guy DelisleTranslator: Helge Dascher

Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly

Pub. Date: 2016, 2017

Genres: Nonfiction, Memoir, Graphic Novel

Pages: 436

Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

In 1997, Christophe André was working for a humanitarian NGO in the Caucasus when he was kidnapped and held hostage by some Chechens. He finds himself trapped in a room, handcuffed to a radiator, not knowing when he will be rescued from this Hell. While trapped, he thinks about possible escape plans, keeps track of the date, and entertains himself with his knowledge of world history. Guy Delisle recounts Christophe’s story as he was told it through a graphic novel.

I was initially drawn to Hostage because of the monochromatic cover, but it became more intriguing as I read the blurbs on the back about this being nonfiction and suspenseful, despite the lack of action. Those blurbs were right about the suspense. Hostage held my interest and it was great.

The book starts with Christophe getting kidnapped and then focuses on his life in one room, chained to a radiator. He mostly lies there thinking of ways to escape, worrying about what his company and family are doing, and entertaining himself with an alphabet of history. His thoughts of escape and then finding reasons not to do those things is relatable. I’m amazed that Christophe didn’t lose track of time, which was shown with the count of days in captivity and watching the filtered light.

There is very little breaking out of the panels, but I think that is to reflect the sameness of Christophe’s overall day-to-day captivity, like the monochromatic art. I liked the incorporation of his thoughts in the panels. I also liked how Delisle illustrated Christophe’s attempts to reach for things in the room. It showed each major step and stretch. The art was perfect to relay this story.

The resolution was perfect. I like where the story ended since it helped tie up Christophe’s love of history. I didn’t feel particularly emotional during the book, minus feeling the suspense, until the end. I recommend Hostage.


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