Monday, September 8, 2014

Book Review: The Three by Sarah Lotz

Title: The Three
Author: Sarah Lotz
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication Date: May 20, 2014
Source: borrowed from the good ol' public library

Summary from Goodreads

The world is stunned when four commuter planes crash within hours of each other on different continents. Facing global panic, officials are under pressure to find the causes. With terrorist attacks and environmental factors ruled out, there doesn't appear to be a correlation between the crashes, except that in three of the four air disasters a child survivor is found in the wreckage.

Dubbed 'The Three' by the international press, the children all exhibit disturbing behavioural problems, presumably caused by the horror they lived through and the unrelenting press attention. This attention becomes more than just intrusive when a rapture cult led by a charismatic evangelical minister insists that the survivors are three of the four harbingers of the apocalypse. The Three are forced to go into hiding, but as the children's behaviour becomes increasingly disturbing, even their guardians begin to question their miraculous survival.

My Review:

I first heard about The Three a few weeks ago from Julie over at Book Hooked Blog.  She posted about it on Instagram, and I was like, "A book about plane crashes and conspiracy! Count me in!" (I'm so morbid.)  My interest was piqued though, so I ran off to the library for a copy.  I was NOT disappointed.  This is potentially one of my favorite reads of 2014.

The Three utilizes a lot of varied literary elements that, when put together, create a unique novel that is fast-paced, suspenseful, and thought-provoking.  Unusual format + suspense/horror + political unrest + open-ended conclusion = this book.

The first thing you'll notice is the journalistic format (similar to World War Z ).  The story is told through news articles, interviews, chat room transcripts, etc.  This is responsible for the fast pace, as each "chapter" is quite short, and you've got a steady stream of new information coming at you all the time, not to mention a wide variety of different perspectives to draw from.

Genre-wise, this book melts into several different categories.  I've heard some say horror, but I didn't find the material "horrific" enough to fully justify that description.  However, it is definitely suspenseful and creepy, because disturbing children are ALWAYS creepy (a la The Uninvited by Liz Jensen).  Alongside those eerie details, you also have a conspiracy going on that brings in political, religious, and moral questions, so you have to be ready to take your sinister leanings with a side of philosophical arguing.  This is what makes the book into more of a "literary thriller" and really got my wheels turning as I was reading it.

Finally, you've got the ending.  Based on the commentary I've seen on Goodreads, this is arguably the make-or-break issue for a lot of readers of The Three.  For me, it definitely MADE the book.  Yes, it is open-ended, and every little detail is not neatly wrapped up.  However, I don't think this novel was ever meant to end that way.  It was making me think from the very beginning, so why wouldn't it keep that up at the end?  Lotz gives you just enough detail in the final pages to allow you to extrapolate your own conclusions, and leave you thinking about the what-ifs for a good long while afterwards.  Honestly, I STILL have no freaking clue what happened, but I have a lot of ideas rolling around in my head, and the time I'm taking to agonize over all of them is entertainment enough.

Simply put, The Three was a truly impressive read.  I couldn't read it fast enough, it was creepy creepy creepy, and I loved the moral questions that were posed throughout.  MORE LIKE THIS, PLEASE.

What say you, readers: do you like an open-ended conclusion to a novel?  Or does that just drive you batty?


  1. Whoa this sounds crazy awesome (I've got that morbid streak, too, ha!). But I'm not sure about the journalistic format, because I don't seem to enjoy books presented that way. Hmmm. Maybe my library will have a copy and I can give it a whirl, though.

    1. Yeah, sounds like a borrow (rather than a buy) for you. What was it that turned you off about the journalistic format in other books? I'm curious!

  2. I've heard mixed reviews on this, but I'm definitely intrigued!

    1. I saw a lot of mixed reviews on Goodreads as well. I think the ending is a real dealbreaker for some people.

  3. Yay! I'm so glad you liked it! I haven't reviewed it yet, but, as usual, we had very similar thoughts.

    1. Good to hear! Looking forward to your review. :)

  4. I really like books told in this format and the topic interests me too, but I'm not a fan of open-ended books. This is one I'll think about picking up, but I suspect I'm one of the people who would be disappointed by the ending.

    1. Oh yes...if you dislike open-ended, this one will drive you CRAZY. Haha.

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