Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Fiction Review: The Three

I heard lots of great reviews of The Three by Sarah Lots last year when it came out, so I gave copies to my husband and my father for Christmas last year. During my spooky reading month of October, I finally found the time to read it myself, and I really enjoyed this unique, creepy thriller that keeps you guessing right up until the last page.

On January 12, 2012 – ever after known as Black Thursday – four passenger planes all crashed simultaneously around the world, leaving no survivors except for three young children, one in each of three of the flights. In Japan, Florida, South Africa, and off the coast of Portugal, emergency workers and plane crash analysts rushed to the horrible scenes of carnage, but only those three small children walked away – and they did all walk away, with only minor injuries. The NTSB and other investigative agencies around the world soon concluded that the crashes were not caused by terrorist attacks, but the whole world erupted with speculation and conspiracy theories.

The survival of the three children – unharmed – was the major topic of conversation. As time went on and the media hounded the families of the surviving children, certain eerie facts began to emerge. In all three cases, there were reports from family, friends, neighbors, or casual acquaintances that each of the children was somehow different from before the crash – not better or worse, just changed. Was this really true or simply the wild speculation of the scandal-hungry public?

Two main theories soon emerged, spurred on by Internet message boards and fanatics. One was that aliens had caused the crashes and replaced the children with body doubles ala Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Meanwhile, Pastor Len, a minister in Texas with dreams of being a big-time television preacher, declared that the three children were the Horseman of the Apocalypse, after one of his faithful parishioners died in the Japanese plane crash and recorded a message on her phone that ended with, “Pastor Len, warn them that the boy he’s not to…” To explain the absence of a fourth Horseman, the Pastor declared that a fourth child did survive the South African crash and has just not been found yet.

All of this – the entire book – is told through excerpts from various sources, the makings of a book by a famous narrative nonfiction author that was never published. There are interviews with various people involved in different ways, including family of the survivors, reports from the NTSB and other organizations, letters, e-mails, and messages from online forums. In this way, the story is told piece by piece from many different points of view until the whole story comes together.

I loved the unique format of this book and was riveted by its unusual premise right from the first pages. Some characters’ perspectives recur throughout the book, as excerpts from planned books or a series of ongoing interviews, while others come on the scene just once. The suspense and mysteries kept me thoroughly engrossed, with the alien and religious conspiracy theories – and the strange behavior of the children – adding the perfect element of creepiness to the novel. Right up until the very end, the author keeps you wondering what really happened, though the final chapter gives you some clues. I really enjoyed this unique, fast-paced novel filled with suspense and hints of the supernatural and can’t wait to read Lotz’s latest novel, Day Four.

469 pages, Little, Brown and Company


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