Review: The Three by Sarah Lotz


4 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

The Three is unlike any book I’ve ever read. It’s a fictional non-fiction book (!) comprised of eyewitness accounts, interviews, IM chats and transcripts. Focusing around an event known as ‘Black Thursday’, where four planes crashed at the same time all over the world for unknown reasons, it is a book within a book. Between the four crashes, there were only three survivors: all young children, who don’t quite seem themselves after the event. You would think this not usual, considering what they’ve been through, but various people latch on to different theories about what ‘The Three’ might be. These range from the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse to aliens, to possession and many other crackpot theories. What’s immediately clear is that something isn’t quite right…

It is certainly a unique way of telling a story, and despite the size of the book (close to five hundred pages), definitely one to be read quickly. It keeps you drawn in, every page reveals new information whilst keeping you guessing. I mean, this is a book that managed to draw me away from the Steam sales and all my shiny new video games so that’s got to be something, right? 😉 As I read more of the story, the creepier moments began to appear – suddenly and completely out of the blue, exactly as they should be! However, I don’t feel the book was ever quite as ‘terrifying’ as several reviews have claimed.

Unfortunately, there were two major things that pulled the book down a rating for me. The first was that I felt an utter lack of connection to any of the characters, because of the way the book was written. It felt very detached and impersonal, with all these interviews and eyewitness accounts – although they were following the same people, there was no room for character development or even really getting to know any of them. Even with the ‘author’ of the book within the book, and her sidenotes – absolutely no connection to the character. I would have loved more information about ‘The Three’ before the crash: although we’re told by friends and relatives that they’re different post-Black Thursday, we don’t know how. The reader has no real idea what any of the children were like before the event, so the creepiness of the change is rather toned down.

The second reason was the completely open and ambiguous ending. I actually felt really frustrated at this, and in a way it sort of felt like the author just couldn’t be bothered to come up with an explanation for the events. When I read a thriller, I like to try and guess why something has happened, what is causing it, who is behind it etc – it’s quite satisfying to get it right! But as there were no answers or explanations for the past four hundred odd pages, I felt a bit cheated.

In conclusion, a read that draws you in and grips you – and is thoroughly enjoyable – but doesn’t quite deserve the ‘horror’ tag. Perhaps if there’d been some explanation or a proper conclusion, it would have been worthy of five stars in my eyes, but unfortunately it doesn’t quite cut it!


13 thoughts on “Review: The Three by Sarah Lotz”

  1. I would probably categorize this book as a psychological thriller, and horror so often overlaps that! There were definitely a few parts where this book freaked me the hell out, especially with Paul and his dictophone chapters. On the other hand, I might just have this phobia of flying and creepy children that made this such a scary read for me!

  2. Yeeeyy you liked it 🙂 No, I haven’t read it but I’m planning too. I was scared to read your review and find out that the book is a waste of time.

  3. I sometimes quite like an ambiguous ending. For certain stories, it’s a lot more true to life, than a cut and dry ‘this is what happened’ explanation. Have you read ‘The Testimony’ by James Smythe? It sounds a bit similar to ‘The Three’, although the story is told by multiple witnesses in their own words rather than the mix in ‘The Three’. The ending just, well, ends. No wrap up, no explanation, just… done. But it worked really well for the story. Of course, sometimes if you’ve dedicated ages to a book an ambiguous ending can drive you daft 😀

    1. Sometimes it can work, I agree, but I feel it really didn’t for this particular book. I was really looking forward to learning the reasons behind Black Thursday – but nope.

      Are you able to at least attempt a guess at why things happened in ‘The Testimony’?

  4. Wait, fiction non-fiction? That sounds really interesting, though I do prefer to be attached to my characters. But I love these kinds of mysteries, and I’ll probably pick it up sometime in the future. Though truth is, I’ve never really read a psychological thriller/mystery (whatever genre this book is in), so I have no idea whether I’ll like it or not.

  5. Fiction non-fiction? Well, that is an interesting mix! Lack of connection and an unsatisfying ending are two serious things.. Most of the times I can’t handle with those, so I’m not sure I will put this book on my reading list for now. Still, very unique sounding book!

    1. Yep, I was really excited to learn the reason behind the whole thing and then… nothing 😦 What a let down. But it certainly is unique!

  6. I think reading this one would disturb me too much and I didn’t realize it was a fictional non fiction account of a real event – shows you how much news I’m privvy too.

    Plus the ambiguous ending – I would hate that.

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