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Tuesday, 14 April 2015

The Three by Sarah Lotz (The Three, #1) - Book Review

4/5 Stars

Four simultaneous plane crashes.

Three child survivors.

A religious fanatic who insists the three are harbingers of the apocalypse.

What if he's right?


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Edition: Paperback
Pages: 469
Chapters: Not structured with chapters, more on that below.
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

Book Links: Goodreads
                      Amazon
                      Author's Website

Review

^ Pretty much how I feel upon completing the book.

The Three leaves me conflicted. Not necessarily in a bad way, but my mind right now... My rating could easily lose a star, or gain one, and I'd still be no closer to settling. All I know for sure, is that, I need more. Sarah Lotz has written something I'm going to be dissecting in my brain for days. I know there's a sequel - that, by early reviews, sounds much more like a separate story that exists in the same world - but this book is either genius or a fluffed-out piece of work that just misses the mark.

The reviews on Goodreads indicate the same feeling.

SPOILER WARNING

Synopsis (Not a copy from the book, but I always keep my own interpretations close.)

Impossibly, four planes crash at almost the same time.
There are four survivors.
Three are children.
The other is an adult woman, who manages to record a message on her phone before she dies.
The message?
Well, it's a warning...

Plot - 4.5/5 Stars

The premise has you instantly; there's no doubt about it. I read it once and knew that, when I could, I'd be picking The Three up. It's just so full of promise. It also caught my attention due to its subject matter: Four plane crashes. What with so many aircraft related stories circulating throughout the news. Morbidly, it gave me a heightened sense of foreboding before I'd even started.

The opening pages, similarly, grab your attention. The scenes are a sickening blend of horrific and thrilling. What follows caught me off guard. I didn't expect that The Three is essentially a book within a book. Sometimes it's even a book within a book within a book... Yeah, it got meta. Initially, it's jarring. We jump around a lot of different viewpoints, read over tons of accounts of people who are connected to the plane crashes in one way or another. Confusion is the best word for it. 

But, don't give up.

I found that, after a while, I really fell in love with the structure. The way Ms Lotz plays with information and suspense keeps the story fresh and exciting.

Infuriatingly, it's the anticlimactic ending that leaves me so conflicted. If you've completed the book, you probably understand. We don't get all the answers, but we are brought right up to their door. I need more, but at the same time, I've got enough to speculate, and maybe that's what makes everything so chilling: The fact you aren't sure of anything...

Pace - 4/5 Stars

The pace is slow. Throughout the entire book.

So why is it rated so highly?

The way the author works around it. The intensity of The Three is palpable. The suspense is worked like hell; the horror elements are subtle. I had gone to bed last night, seemingly fine, but once I'd jumped under my warm covers and the light was off, parts of this book came back to haunt me. It has that quality to it. Well, that, and I'm unashamed to admit I'm a big coward.

The way everything progresses is impressive. Reading, I sort of fell into this mindset of being shocked at everything I read, but not entirely sure why.

Ms Lotz, what magic have you worked on me?

Characters - 3.5/5 Stars

To be fair, the book has some truly memorable characters, but I'm a sucker for distinction, and there's no real distinction of who exactly is our main character. There are recurring characters, heavily recurring ones, but I still don't feel them to be the focus. That's where everything doesn't quite jell. I think this is the first book I've picked up that's more documentary/report structured. 

On the flip side, the author does a wonderful job of creating interesting characters. The likes of Paul and Len really had me on the edge of my seat. Paul's arc of the story is my favourite. Creepy doesn't begin to cover it. 

Writing - 4/5 Stars

The majority of the novel, which is mainly interviews, is first-person narrative in the present tense. Although, there's a lot of the past tense due to the interviews' subject being a recollection of events.

I'm not entirely sure what to say. The writing is fine, I have no real problems. The report-like structure of everything can seem awkward at first, but like I said above, it becomes second nature. Surprisingly enjoyable.

Kudos to the author and all who contributed to The Three.

Overall - 4/5 Stars

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with this novel. Sarah Lotz has given me a unique story to wrap my head around, and even upon completion, I'm still not done with the world. I definitely recommend giving it a chance. It seems like a 50/50 read; some people, like me, will herald it, while others, won't. 

One thing's for sure: I'll be getting the next entry.


Next Instalment: Day Four


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