Well, this was a treat.
I’ve been slack in my reviewing this year, mainly because I’ve been buried in the Malazan Book of the Fallen, and those books are HUGE. But also my contact with the blogosphere has dwindled through being busy with other things, and as a result review copies have dried up. But lucky for me, Hodder sent through a copy of The Three by Sarah Lotz, and man alive am I glad they did.
Told in a mosaic form, The Three is (mostly) a book-within-a-book. When four passenger planes crash at four different points around the globe, all at the same time on the same day, the world’s press goes into hyper-drive. The crashes are devastating and on each plane there is only one survivor – something seemingly impossible in each situation. Three of them are children (the titular ‘Three’ of the title) and the other is a middle-aged woman from Texas who survives only long enough to leave a voice message on her phone. A cryptic warning that seems related to the other survivors.
Sarah Lotz tells the majority of this story through the fictional book within The Three, titled From Crash to Conspiracy by Elspeth Martins. It is a narrative compiled of numerous different accounts in the months after the crashes. Interviews, blog posts, newspaper articles, IM chats, audio transcripts and more besides work together to create what is a fascinatingly creepy thriller that touches on grief, hysteria, politics, religion, mental illness and much more. Forming the backbone of the book are the relatives left to live with The Three and deal with the aftermath. To go into any more detail would be a disservice to the reader, as there is so much to discover in this novel that anything else would be a spoiler.
The writing is absolutely superb. Lotz manages to give each and every entry its own voice, whether it is a South African reporter, a Japanese Otaku, a Republican Evangelist or a grandmother dealing with the most awful of circumstances.
The conclusion is satisfying (though it won’t be for everyone) and it is very much a completed story. I read it in pretty much two sittings, finding it very difficult to put down. With each entry being a few pages each, and the book being split into 10 parts, it is incredibly easy to keep reading.
Books of this type can be very easy to get wrong. The mosaic style requires a distance from the characters as we cannot spend too much time with any one of them. But Lotz’s skilful writing makes this an absolute joy to read, with each and every character having a voice individual to them. This is a novel that really does deserve to be a massive hit, and I can’t wait to see what Sarah Lotz does next.
The Three is out 22nd May. Pre-order it now. You won’t regret it.