In 2012 four planes crash almost simultaneously leaving three survivors, children dubbed ‘The Three’. How they survived or why no one knows, but the mystery surrounding the crashes on a day the media call ‘Black Thursday’ forces the whole world to question everything as they try to come to terms with a bizarre tragedy on such a large scale involving the four major continents.
The premise of the ‘The Three’ is fascinating, and for the most part, I found the style of writing to be brilliant. It has a rocky beginning, with a clunky first-person narrative that I found difficult to read, so not the greatest of setups, but this part is over in a few pages and from there on the writing really comes in to its own. The narrative is presented as a collection of documents, ranging from newspaper reports, voice recordings all the way through to chat room conversations. Each of these come together to help the reader interpret their own version of events with little snippets of information that foreshadow the terrors to come
I enjoyed reading ‘The Three’, and Sarah Lotz really shines in her stylistic interpretation of the ‘non-fiction’ sections of her book. She really brings a reality to the novel, and I often found myself thinking just how plausible some of the situations were. She seems to understand the cultures she is writing about which makes their representation believable, and each culture reacts in a very specific way to the enigma of ‘The Three’.
The novel has very little characterisation as the reader is not given a narrative in any strict sense. Instead, we get to know the characters through a very specific sequence of events and their reactions to it. This is the strength of the novel, and I found that when Lotz wrote narrative that’s when my interest dwindled. Her writing style lends itself to the concise. It is such a shame then that she chooses to begin and end her novel with her weakest elements.
The ending of ‘The Three’ was a major disappointment. I have heard people complain about its ambiguity, however, I felt that the finale had the opposite problem. So much of Lotz’s novel up to this point had left things open to the reader’s interpretation. This was turned on its head in the final chapter, and I felt disappointed to have a theory spoon fed to me instead of letting my imagination and my interpretation fill in the blanks. There were enough hints given throughout the book for me to draw my own conclusions that the ending just seemed like a letdown. On top of this, Lotz once again chose to write in a narrative style which made the entire bulk of the novel seem inconsequential and both the beginning and the end were un-engaging and only adequately written.
All in all, I highly enjoyed ‘The Three’ despite its weaknesses, and I will certainly be picking up other novels by Sarah Lotz. It was tense, well crafted, and ultimately an interesting read, let down only by a narratively weak beginning and end.
Read this Review on Goodreads here.