Three by Jay Posey. Book review

Three by Jay Posey,  Angry Robot Books, 2013, £8.99 pb, Website

Reviewed by Alex S. Bradshaw

A post-apocalyptic heroic adventure, Three by Jay Posey takes us on a journey with a mysterious wanderer for whom the book is titled.

When we first meet our hero, Three, he is hauling a fugitive into town for the bounty. He makes the kind of show we would expect of a dangerous bounty hunter like refusing to give up his weapons or give in to the authority figures he crosses paths with. Ultimately that backfires and he has to stay in town for a few days. But fear not, that’s where he meets Cass and the story truly begins.

That isn’t to say that the story follows the pattern of star-crossed lovers in a post-apocalypse world. Cass is on the run with her son and Three quickly becomes embroiled with their escape, although from what we are not sure.

Whilst a lot of the setting doesn’t seem to be particularly new, a waste-land created by an unspecified apocalypse, Posey does throw a couple of fresh elements into the mix that really make the setting pop.

One refreshing ingredient was the advanced technological base for the world, everyone seemed to be directly plugged in to a network and was able to access things like the exact time and location. Although this had the potential to destroy any suspense when two of your characters – Cass and Wren – are running from something and someone else could hone in on you too. But this potential issue was dealt with quickly, reasonably, and effectively and in the end served the story well and created more suspense.

The other element was the Weir. Mysterious creatures, the Weir only come out at night to hunt for humans and seem to be some kind of electronic zombie. I really liked the Weir. I felt that they were a take on the dangers in the night presented in a new way. For example, the Weir make an electronic croaking sound which isn’t something one normally associates with danger but by the end of the book a croak will leave you tensed and waiting for danger.

I didn’t notice how concerned I had become for the characters until I found myself on the edge of my seat and biting my nails wondering how they were going to get out of this particular scrape, hoping that they could get out. Kudos to Posey for this; it was insidious but Posey creates characters that you root for even whilst he tries his best to destroy them.

Perhaps the story could have been more forthcoming with its secrets about Cass and her son. Although I appreciate that giving them mysterious circumstances to run from served to keep the plot moving quickly and from stagnating I thought that revealing what it was they were running from a chapter or so earlier may not have gone amiss.

The prose was well crafted: it drags you along with it and was interspersed similes and metaphors that make you stop and appreciate the beauty that’s present in everything, even a post-apocalyptic wasteland.

The book served its purpose, telling the story of Three, but you only skim the surface of the rest of the world. I thought this was a great plus for the book; it told the story it wanted to and didn’t waffle on about all of the minute details that the author’s notes no doubt tell of in abundance.

Posey did reveal shadows and legacies of the pre-apocalypse world slowly and by the end of the book had me asking a lot of questions that I hope are answered in the next two books of the trilogy.

On that note, I also greatly appreciated how Posey ended the book. Through the course of the story and the climactic final scenes Posey revealed not only secrets to the readers but also to the characters themselves and by the final page the world they thought they knew is not the same. Yet another reason why I am looking forward to reading the second book as it promises not to be another follow up that trudges along the same lines as the first. Things are different now and Posey makes sure you want to find out what that will mean.

All in all, Three is a gun-toting adventure in an interesting post-apocalypse world that doesn’t pull its punches. Posey’s world was interesting for its differences and creates a concern for his characters that seeps into you throughout the story. A very strong first book of the trilogy and if the rest can live up to this then it promises to be a memorable read.