DAY FOUR by Sarah Lotz



Sarah Lotz’s DAY FOUR
Release Date: June 16, 2015
Review By: Daniel Boucher

From the cover:

Hundreds of pleasure-seekers stream aboard The Beautiful Dreamer cruise ship for five days of cut-price fun in the Caribbean sun. On the fourth day, disaster strikes: smoke roils out of the engine room, and the ship is stranded in the Gulf of Mexico. Soon supplies run low, a virus plagues the ship, and there are whispered rumors that the cabins on the lower decks are haunted by shadowy figures. Irritation escalates to panic, the crew loses control, factions form, and violent chaos erupts among the survivors.

When, at last, the ship is spotted drifting off the coast of Key West, the world’s press reports it empty. But the gloomy headlines may be covering up an even more disturbing reality.

Have you ever watched an episode of THE VOICE or AMERICAN IDOL where the contestant sings so flat and off-key that there’s no way he/she is going to make it to the next round, only to have the judges stand in applause and leave you wondering if they heard the same performance you just did?

Ya, DAY FOUR is that contestant. How Stephen King ever came to the conclusion of “Really good” makes me wonder if in fact we both read the same book (or if he read beyond the first half). I will say the updated cover is pretty cool though.

DAY FOUR is much like The Beautiful Dreamer cruise ship on which this could-have-been great story relies: Dead at sea and without direction.

The story falls flat and is yet another that suffers from an identity crisis. Is this about the supernatural? The norovirus and cruise line cover-up? A fascination with pooping in red bags? Or is it more about Lotz’s clear and present hate dislike for Long Island Medium, Theresa Caputo in the form of medium, Celine, who–aside from a wheelchair–is virtually identical to Theresa in looks and talk?

(Note to authors: Please pick a theme and stick to it. Trying to be all things to all people does not work)

If Lotz had focused on telling the story that she skirts over with interview questions this would have been a much different review.

I’m not sure what happened here. Lotz manages to build up great tension and mystery, only to have it crash and burn with little to no answers, glossed over in rushed and broken interview questions that come off more lazy than anything satisfactory.

Here’s the thing. Lotz can write. Even when I could tell there would be no point to finishing DAY FOUR I kept reading. Why? Because her writing is good–which makes the fact that the story falls flat even more disappointing.

I recently experienced this same disappointment with MOCKINGJAY: PART 2.

(minor spoiler)

Katniss wakes up after an explosion to learn the war is over. Wait? What?!? If that’s how the movie ends, then what the hell was with all the death and destruction leading up to it? Why on Earth, after having me watch characters that I care about die, would you not give me the satisfaction of watching Katniss storm the Capital and separate Snow’s head from his shoulders?

Why the hell not?!?!

Anyway, I’m not alone in my disappointment with DAY FOUR. A quick run over to will show you that the book has over a hundred reviews with an average of three stars. 15% of the reviews are one star, consisting of titles like: cruise to nowhere; A SHAME – PROMISING BUT TERRIBLE ENDING; Horrible ending; BORING, and many more. Interestingly enough, the first in the series, THE THREE, shares an almost identical rank among readers (200+ reviews, 18% at one star).

Let me be clear: Sarah Lotz can write. She just needs help with writing endings that satisfy. Just because this is part of a series is no excuse to not have a complete beginning, middle and end (that can lead to the next). Rick Yancey did it with THE 5TH WAVE as did J.K. Rowling and countless others–so it can be done.

Needless to say (but I will ’cause it’s my blog): It’s safe to skip this one.

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