Review of The Three by Sarah Lotz
A blend of LOST, Fringe, and half a dozen King and Crichton novels, The Three is a tough book to review. I read it pretty fast, would have read it faster if I didn’t have writing and Uni work to do, but I’m still not sure about it. It was addictive, despite the disjointed format the story is told in.
The book this can be compared to in terms of format is World War Z—The Three is told through interviews, chat room discussions, newspaper articles, all compiled as a fictional non-fiction book charting the events that surrounded the three child survivors of four simultaneous plane crashes.
Some criticized this book for its format, for the lack of character development and rambling plot. They’re all right. And this book is like marmite. You’ll either enjoy the format, or hate it. I’m still not sure whether I’d say the former or latter.
The story itself is very compelling as we gradually see the survivors are not… who they were before the crash. There are strong echoes of Crichton and King throughout the story and the same creepy, believable stuff as from both the authors’ many novels. I thought the style would make this a slow read, but if anything, it was addictive and I could have read this book in a single sitting.
Maybe that was because of my desperation for answers. Because the mystery hooks you. I wanted to know who the survivors were, or what they were, why they alone had survived. Lotz delivers plenty of creepy set-pieces. It’s just a shame they’re buried in a plot that doesn’t really go anywhere, and a lot of pages that were completely unnecessary. Chopped in half, with a few more answers to the many questions the chilling climax left, and this could have been a near perfect book.
As it is, the plot isn’t tight enough, the answers too few, to achieve five stars. At some points I wasn’t sure what was going on—but I guess that added to the addictiveness. But I think a four star rating is justified. Lotz ramps up the tension towards the end until I was turning the pages before I’d even finished reading them. And there’s plenty of creepy, gripping moments before that. Despite this being written as almost entirely interviews and statements from the survivor’s family, some of the character development is pretty damn good. Lotz makes you hate the characters that need to be hated.
Overall, this is a tense, addictive read with a finale that gives some answers, but not enough—the sequel Day Four will likely wrap things up—and there is some long, unnecessary passages.
If you can get past the format, this is good, Stephen King-akin stuff. It comes complete with weird kids, robots, ghosts, haunted forests, crazy preachers, to name a few.
Highly recommended. I’ll be checking out the sequel.