Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Book Reviews: The Three and Day Four by Sarah Lotz

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...
 

From Goodreads:
Hundreds of pleasure-seekers stream aboard The Beautiful Dreamer cruise ship for five days of cut-price fun in the Caribbean sun. On the fourth day, disaster strikes: smoke roils out of the engine room, and the ship is stranded in the Gulf of Mexico. Soon supplies run low, a virus plagues the ship, and there are whispered rumors that the cabins on the lower decks are haunted by shadowy figures. Irritation escalates to panic, the crew loses control, factions form, and violent chaos erupts among the survivors. 

When, at last, the ship is spotted drifting off the coast of Key West, the world's press reports it empty. But the gloomy headlines may be covering up an even more disturbing reality. 
These two are technically a series, but honestly could easily be read as stand alone novels.  They take place in the same set of circumstances and the twist at the end of Day Four is a lot more meaningful if you read them together, however.

Writing
Very well done.  I love the more literary take on horror and the subtlety represented here.  While I'd definitely put this squarely in the horror category, it's not the blood and guts form of horror that you think of when the genre comes to mind.  It's a lot more beneath the surface, although the terror is definitely there in both books.  Lotz does a great job of creating massive amounts of suspense without resorting to cheap thrills.  Especially in Day Three, there is so much under the surface suspense regarding the children that I found extra creepy just because it wasn't as overt as many authors would have made it.

Entertainment Value
I first read The Three a year ago and somehow never got around to reviewing it.  I didn't remember enough about the ending to feel ok just jumping into Day Four, so I decided to give it a quick reread.  Funnily (and creepily) enough, I wound up starting it on the exact same day this year as I started it last year.  I'm glad I did the reread because it provided some details that enhanced aspects of Day Four's story.  Both books were finished in a matter of days because I just could not put them down.  The Three had me enthralled even as a reread, and Day Four kept me up super late finishing.  I'd classify both as "worth being exhausted tomorrow" books.

Overall
I highly recommend both books to fans of horror who don't require lots of blood and guts to keep their interest.  In my opinion, they're best read in order, but if tales of the high seas interest you more than plane crashes, you'd be fine reading them in any order.  They're also perfect for reading this fall with the darker nights and cozy settings.

Thanks to my local public library for providing me with copies to read!

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