The world is stunned when four commuter planes crash within hours of each other on different continents. Read more...
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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...
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2014-03-31
- Reviewer: Staff
Lotz has published “urban horror” and young adult zombie novels with collaborators and under pseudonyms, but this disappointing book is the first to appear under her real name. Its premise is promising: four planes crash on the same day in Japan, South Africa, the United States, and the United Kingdom, respectively, leaving three survivors, all young children: Hiro in Japan, Bobby in New York, and Jessica in London (no one, apparently, survived the crash in Johannesburg). The very act of their survival and the coincidence of the crashes understandably unnerve the whole world and prompt all manner of conspiracy theories (terrorists? aliens?), which go viral, of course, online. One adult, Pamela May Donald, a devout Christian from Texas, survives the crash in Japan long enough to phone her husband, and her final words provide opportunistic televangelists the chance to proclaim this a harbinger of the Rapture. The novel is presented in the guise of a nonfiction book, Black Thursday: From Crash to Conspiracy by Elspeth Martins, which is itself a pastiche of every conceivable genre: chat room transcripts, blog posts, news articles, and interviews (no chapter is more than a few pages long). But this approach involves dozens of characters, many of them peripheral to the central storyline, and the result reads like a faulty mash-up: plenty of bits and pieces (often well rendered by Lotz), but they don’t coalesce into a real narrative with the kind of momentum or urgency that the premise calls for. Agent: Oli Munson, A.M. Heath & Company. (May)
Miraculous survivors, or harbingers of end times?
In this fascinating and deeply creepy novel by South African author Sarah Lotz, four commercial flights go down on the same day. Everyone on board perishes except three children: a British preteen named Jess; an American boy named Bobby; and a Japanese boy named Hiro. The children are uninjured, but their personalities have changed.
Just one other person survives, albeit briefly: Pamela Donald, a middle-aged Texan who lives long enough to record a mysterious message on her phone. Her pastor, Len Vorhees, who has been trying to break into the big leagues of televangelism, uses the message to start a new cult of “Pamelists,” who believe the three surviving children signal the apocalypse. Rapture Fever is soon spreading around the nation.
Trailed by religious zealots and under intense media scrutiny, the orphans and their new caregivers are forced into seclusion, even as the children’s behavior grows more unsettling. Is it the result of surviving a harrowing disaster, or something else?
The Three is nifty in part because it is a book within a book. Investigative journalist Elspeth Martins has searched out everyone remotely connected to the crashes: the paramedics who responded to the crash in Africa; the prostitute sleeping with Pastor Len; Bobby’s grandmother, who suspects that Bobby has somehow eased his grandfather’s severe Alzheimer’s. The novel is at its eerie best with the transcription of voice recordings by Jess’ Uncle Paul, who slowly descends into madness as he tries to determine what’s wrong with his niece.
Lotz has honed her writing skills as a screenwriter and YA author, and here she spins a tail of disaster and fanaticism that is both entertaining and scarily realistic. The Three is the real deal: gripping, unpredictable and utterly satisfying.