Sunday, July 21, 2013

Book Review: Three by Jay Posey

THREE is Jay Posey's debut, the first book in the Legends of the Duskwalkers series, this was an ARC I got from Angry Robots, perhaps the first book that I'm reading from their stable. It's an odd ball mix of western, science fiction and horror and a very entertaining tale of flight and survival set in a distant dystopian-end of the world kind of settings. The story follows the fate of a lone gunman with a mysterious past, Three, whose life changes when he decides to protect a woman and her gifted six-year old son fleeing from unknown assailants.



Three, a bounty hunter who lives by his gun, runs into Cass ( a chemic who survives on body-boosting energy shots) and her six-year old son, Wren,  who is special. ( Now that's a dead giveaway, I agree but i wont harp on it)Three saves her from a bully and inadvertently ends up killing another in a bid to save her.  This sweeps him into a murky conspiracy from which the woman and kid are trying to flee - making them a target for a sinister gang of criminals. And they flee town, escaping out into the vast apocalyptic wastelands that surrounds settlements left in this distant world that has seen better days of technology and now is nothing but a lifeless cauldron of rundown buildings, abandoned roads and grey hopelessness. And out there in the urban desert lands , the human pursuers and scavenger gangs are the least of their troubles.

I wasn't disappointed with the tale, although predictable, the book has its surprising revelatory moments and its full of non-stop pulse-pounding edge-of-the-seat thriller moments that is well written.

 One thing about Jay's craft - he's got the ability to seep in nerve-wracking tension into the narrative and has the reader hanging onto his words waiting for what he is going to spring on to them next. Jay does not waste time dumping info about his grey hopeless world and this works well to step up the tense dramatic moments. It's a world that has people genetically modifying their hands to be steel-cases and strong, large barreled guns that can fire thirty kilo joule  bullets that can furrow a gaping hole in pretty much anything solid, people who can upload their memories and souls into some central system for safekeeping, you can Pim others minds and access the GST time without watches and read your surroundings by accessing satellite maps through minds. Enough future-istica for you?

Oh it gets better and Jay does these so subtly sweeping us along in a manic burst of action filled testosterone-fueled run across the desert that you might fail to notice them. THAT is masterclass and shows Jays temperament as a mature writer.

The momentum cranks up right from chapter one where we are introduced to Three and it just keeps going on a wild Wild West ride from there, the action and tension ratcheting up . Fluid prose and an excellent command of the literary keeps the reader invested in the fates of the three people who are the main POVs as they flee innumerable horrors and sinister foes.

The eponymous action hero, Three, is something like a Roland of Gilead, Gunslinger from times past and a man who lives by his own code of ethics and survival. To protect this strange woman and the young frightened boy is to go against his very nature and yet, by the end of the novel, Three transforms from a distant Man. With No Name mould, the cold calculating killing machine into a caring father figure for Wren. This transformation and the fun bonding between the boy and the man is one of the most rewarding experiences of the read. Cass, the tortured mother trying to flee her past to give her gifted son a better future, is a stereotype but beautifully laid out by Jay. She's a strong character and rivals Three in pretty much all aspects, especially the frantic frenzied fight scenes where she kicks ass. Wren, who probably had the best potential in the whole book for character growth, was a disappointment and perhaps, the more annoying POV of the lot.

Overall,  a strong debut, albeit a predictable plot, is nevertheless solid entertainment and is a good fun read. Going with 3 stars.

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