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The Three: A Novel Hardcover – May 20, 2014

171 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, May 2014: The "facts" are these: four planes crash almost simultaneously in different parts of the world; three children survive, against all reason. When one victim's ominous final voicemail message makes headlines, the religious and out-of-this-world conspiracy theories are abound. Sarah Lotz masters a chorus of distinct character voices as she tells a thrilling, disturbing story in the guise of a nonfiction oral history. The "author" is a character herself, presenting interviews, chat transcripts, book excerpts, and news stories. Lotz commits so fully to each character's perspective that we can never quite determine which is the telling the “truth”--if any. Prepare to be surprised, mesmerized, frustrated, spooked, and utterly entertained. Remind yourself occasionally that it's not real, but maybe play it safe and avoid reading this book on a plane.--Robin A. Rothman

From Booklist

Around the world, at almost the same time, four passenger airplanes plummet to the earth. There are no survivors, apart from three children (on three separate planes) and a woman who soon dies but not before leaving a recorded message that warns listeners to “watch the dead people.” The young survivors, soon dubbed The Three by the press, become worldwide sensations, even as some begin to suspect something is not quite right about them. Theories about The Three start to spread: they’re harbingers of doom, says one theory, the embodiments of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse; no, says another, they were chosen for survival by our reptilian alien overlords. As it turns out, no one has any real notion of just how important and dangerous these children really are. The author’s use of the oral-history format, with its shifting voices and points of view, is a stroke of genius: the reader is in a state of near-constant confusion at the beginning, which is slowly replaced by unease and then dread as the various commentators start to see the bigger picture. A very creepy, very effective novel. --David Pitt

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; First Edition edition (May 20, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031624290X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316242905
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.5 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (171 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,476 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Scarlet Aingeal on June 19, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
I received a copy of this from the publishers via netgalley in return for an honest review.

I was drawn to this book initially by the cover, it gives the impression that it's going to be a horror novel. I'm not sure I would class this as horror, it's so much more, it has mystery, conspiracy, thrills, chills, apocalypse, religious fanatics and creepy children.

The author drew me into the story and kept me turning the pages for more, however I feel like I have been left hanging now that I am finished. During the story we are introduced to several different conspiracies and theories about what happened, why it happened and the possible outcome. Each as possible and believable as the other albeit a bit far fetched outside of the story itself.

There is no definitive explanation or answer given, it's left open for the reader to decide and I think that's what spoiled this one for me. With all the theories put in place in the story it's possible that any of them could be the answer and I would have much preferred that there was a clear outcome to the end of the book.

I'm not sure what to rate this, I did enjoy it and I kept reading to find out what was going on but I'm still none the wiser. I'm giving this 3 stars (ironic considering the name lol) because I liked the premise of the book, it intrigued me and kept me reading.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Amelia Gremelspacher TOP 500 REVIEWER on May 20, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book immediately snares the reader with the disparate views of the crash of four different commuter flights. The viewpoints of a passenger, of a waiting relative, of EMT and of investigaters lead the evolving mystery. While complex, the plot knits together seamlessly as the unanswered questions mount. Three small children have survived wrecks of immense horror. Right away they serve as lightening rods for the grief and the lack of answers.

I think that a prevailing hook to this book is the need for explanations when tragedy hits. As we have seen currently with the missing airplane, the dropping of people from the sky fills one with dread. It would seem preferable in some way for an unknown threat to have caused the failure than for random fate to have entered our lives. As one relative notes, our seeing off of loved ones has become almost prosaic. "See you when you're older mate." is a comfortable enforcement of the idea that one's twin will return from a perfectly routine flight.

Each of the different narrator's bring his/her own voice to the story. This book is remarkable in the varying points of view that are successfully assumed. I was particularly invested in the Japanese relative of one survivor in her online dialogue with a hikikomori, recluse, about her struggles to reach her nephew. I also have a soft spot for the actor uncle who undertakes to raise his niece safe from the "Addam's family" of her deceased mother.. The characters are fully realized adding an unsettling element to the undercurrent of supernatural. In addition, the settings are diverse and rich. Japan's Aokigahara Forest is an eerie site of one of the crashes which comes to vivid detail. It is a real forest, and this adds to the texture of the setting.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By MyBookishWays on May 22, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Four planes crash in different places throughout the world. Three children, one from each of three sites, are the only survivors, although there are pervasive rumors of a fourth. An American woman (the only one on a Japanese flight), Pamela May Donald, supposedly survives long enough after one of the crashes to leave a cryptic message on her phone, directed at a certain Pastor Len, that alludes to a boy and “the dead people.” This leads Pastor Len to believe that the children may be three of the four horsemen, and that the end times are approaching. That sounds more simplistic than it really is, though. There is a progression, not only of events, but of certain ideas, that lead to such apocalyptic talk, and a rather odd fervor is created. But, a little should be said about the survivors. All are of a certain age (under 10) and come from fairly different backgrounds, two boys and a girl. Jess Craddock is sent to live with her gay uncle Paul, little Bobby’s grandparents, including a grandfather suffering from Alzheimer’s, takes him in, and little Hiro Yanagida, the son of a brilliant Japanese robot expert, is left with his aunt and cousin. The boy, in fact, communicates only through a lifelike robot that his father has created in his image. If you think that sounds creepy, you’d be right. The story of these three unusual kids is told in book-inside-a-book form, called Black Thursday: From Crash to Conspiracy by Elspeth Martins, and each tale is laid out in quite different ways. Paul and Jess’s tale plays out via Paul’s confessional style voice recordings, Bobby’s by way of interviews of his grandmother and neighbors, and Hiro’s in the form of his teen cousin Chiyoko’s instant messages to a lonely young man, Ryu, that longs to be with her.Read more ›
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By MC on July 4, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
My love affair with horror has endured longer than with any other genre. My habit in my youth was to wait until everyone was asleep before delving into a new horror book. Like setting up for a romantic interlude, the mood had to be right, uninterrupted privacy ensured. While it did not happen often, there was excitement in the hope that the next book holds frightening delights. I wanted to be scared, I wanted to be afraid of going down the stairs for a glass of water. Such moments were more precious for their rarity.

I wanted to fall in love with this novel. It has been a really long time since I experienced a visceral fear whilst reading a horror novel. I had high expectations, purchasing it on release date. Sadly, however, I do not feel it lived up to all the ballyhoo that preceded its release. It had a great premise and a curious and interesting format, but it failed to deliver on the promise of being a must-read horror novel. Simply put, I did not love it.

Four commercial planes go down almost at the same time, in four different countries, in four different continents. Only three survivors were found, all children, from three of the four planes. The seemingly synchronized crashes gave rise to numerous rumors. When terrorism was ruled out, conspiracy theorists zeroed in on the three young survivors, decreeing their survival suspect and an impossibility, giving rise to all manner of speculation from a miracle to alien interference to the signaling of an impending apocalypse.

The Three, as the survivors came to be called, became the subjects of endless media scrutiny.
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