Thursday 12th January 2012. Four planes crash; Florida, Japan, Tenerife and Cape Town. Three of the planes had sole survivors, three children who came out alive against all odds. As the world struggles to understand how and why, a message is heard, a message that will change everything.

The Three was not what I was expecting but I loved it all the same. The focus is on the reactions to The Three from around the world, from the press interest to the Pamelists; those who see the events of Black Thursday as a biblical omen. The format reminded me very much of World War Z; an oral history of sorts combined of Skype conversations, transcripts and press cuttings. The idea is that all these bits of testimonials have been collected together by Elspeth, a journalist who wrote a book on The Three.

The real fear is nothing to do with the surviving children and what they may or may not be. That is almost an aside. Instead, it’s how easy it is for people to use tragedy to their own advantage, incite hatred and turn people against each other. There’s a lot about Christian fundamentalism and fanaticism as well as how lack of privacy from the media wears people down. Plus the underlying grief and guilt of families left behind.

My favourite characters were Chiyoko and Ryu, two Japanese teenagers from different spheres who chat online. Chiyoko is related to one of The Three and also has a well-known uncle, who is famous for his life-like robotic creations. Ryu is a hikikomori, a socially isolated individual who barely leaves their own room. And the idea of a suicide forest, where hundreds go to die was both sad and unusual. I’m not sure if this is a real place or not but the descriptions were wonderfully evocative, changing in tone depending on whose point of view it was.

It’s hard to say much more without revealing spoilers. I found myself changing my mind continuously throughout on whether The Three were a coincidental miracle, extra-terrestrial, supernatural or spiritual. It’s being classified as horror, but I think that’s just because it’s so hard to pin down. There are elements of horror but it’s certainly not a fright fest.

The Three is published by Hodder and will be available from 22nd May 2014 in hardback and ebook editions. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review.

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Shelve next to: World War Z by Max Brooks + The Testimony by James Smythe

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.