Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Day Four by Sarah Lotz (The Three, #2) - Book Review

4/5 Stars

The trip of their dreams becomes the holiday of their nightmares...

There's a murderer on board the Beautiful Dreamer... and maybe something worse...


Edition: Kindle
Pages: 353 (Roughly.)
Chapters: 49 (Approximately. Chapters aren't numbered but are named for the character they are based around, so this isn't an exact number.)
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

Book Links: Goodreads
                      Author's Website


Day Four, much like its predecessor, is almost impossible to categorise. It's a horror and a thriller; a paranormal plethora of the supernatural; a murder mystery; a... a... Let's just say it has a little bit of everything. One word I can use with conviction: Intense... Day Four is intense.

I have the feeling that it's a novel that will polarise many; you're either going to love or hate it. But there's no doubt in my mind that despite how you feel you won't forget about it.

Atmospheric and astounding, I am firmly in the love camp for Day Four.

Synopsis (Not a copy from the book, but I always keep my interpretations close.)

Days 1, 2 and 3 pass like a dream.
Day 4 is when the nightmare starts.
When the engines of a cruise ship, Beautiful Dreamer, mysteriously stop working, the vessel and its passengers are adrift at sea.
Confident that this is only a temporary setback, no one seems too bothered.
But all is not as it seems.
When a girl is found murdered and supernatural occurrences rock the passengers' mental states, the setback becomes a vacation in hell.
More days pass with no help, and the fragility on board the ship shatters.
Ghosts roam halls and camaraderie is replaced with selfish abandon.
Some... thing, is having fun...

Plot - 4/5 Stars

Despite Day Four being a sequel to Lotz's The Three, it stands completely on its own, bar a few allusions to the predecessor. So don't be afraid to pick up either novels and give them a go.

Lotz gives us an understated but completely magical beginning. The atmosphere that's set up and the creepy tone within a confined cruise ship is goosebumps material. Aside from a few supernatural elements, Day Four very much seems like a traditional thriller. We travel varying viewpoints and their individual stories as they dissect and unravel around the murder of an innocent woman. But the author's nuanced horror helps point to something more enigmatic.

We're also treated to a more streamlined plot. While it is broken up, the claustrophobic feel is always present. Instead of an abundance of articles and novels within novels like The Three, Day Four is much more focused on its cast.

This is amplified by how the passengers on board the ship react to dilemmas. When the poop hits the fan and crisis after crisis hits the ship, the portrayal of people in chaos is compelling as hell. It's a great insight to how modern society would fail without technology and amenities. It's no lie that today, civilisation, myself included, is heavily reliant and takes for granted the wonders we have access to.

On the more negative side, the novel can sometimes be too long-winded. The build to the climax can seem like a long time, and there are a few parts that make little difference to the overall story and tone. The end is also going to divide opinion. Like its predecessor, this entry relies on the reader's imagination rather than stone-cold answers. If you're expecting the resolutions you've been hoping for since book one, you will be disappointed.

But, and I say this as someone who absolutely adores answers, there's something that can be said for Lotz's mesmerising storytelling. Day Four is a novel that stays with you. The way it leads you close to the satisfaction of a resolution is infuriating, but also kind of invigorating. 

Also, as a warning: Do not underestimate just how much of an effect the story will have on you. I thought I was fine reading it last night, until I got into bed. Then the chills and horror struck me in darkness...

Pace - 4/5 Stars

Day Four isn't a fast-paced, action-packed work; it's a slow-burning slouch through mystery and mayhem. It's more focused, which I'm thankful for, but prepare to spend time devouring it.

Characters - 4/5 Stars

Compared to the previous entry, Day Four has a much better grasp of its cast, their developments and their interactions. Part of the novel shows just how people react in difficult situations, and it's awesome. There are several viewpoints, each with converging but unique plots of their own. Lotz wows with the dysfunctional plethora of people as they manoeuvre the stranded ship.

There's a murderer, a blogger, a psychic's assistant, two women planning their suicide, a pregnant worker etc. etc. I won't get too into it but the characters are diverse and paint such a beguiling and full story.

Writing - 4.5/5 Stars

Aside from a few mistakes in spelling and grammar here and there, Ms Lotz has to be commended on her ability to write such a packed novel. The way she weaves different genres together is potentially fatal to an author who isn't ready for it, but Lotz does it with mastery.

Overall - 4/5 Stars

I'm hoping there'll be more entries, because damn, I love the way they get me thinking and feeling.

Previous Instalment: The Three

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