Emily's Reviews > The Rule of Four

The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell
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's review
Mar 04, 09

bookshelves: already-read

** spoiler alert ** I enjoyed the riddles and mysteries, and the book moves at a quick pace, but it has a number of drawbacks. First of all, I was completely unable to form any attachments to the characters. I couldn't relate to the yuppie Princeton life that these characters lead. I mean, really, a costume ball where everyone "dresses up" as a former Princeton grad, recognizable only by subtle hints like a lapel pin or cuff-links? That's just not a world I find terribly interesting. The book was full of snobbery and elitist tradition, and nothing about that is interesting to me. Perhaps the authors attempted to make the two main characters more sympathetic by making one from the Midwest and the other an orphan, but I still had difficulty connecting with them. Now don't get me wrong--I have enjoyed many a book with a dearth of sympathetic characters, but I think that this book would have been significantly better for me if the authors had been successful in making me care about the Princeton world. I didn't even feel like I was rooting for the love story portion of the book. In fact, I think that could have almost been left out altogether.

I also feel that a lot of things were glossed over. The entire murder mystery part should have been central, but it seemed almost secondary. Resolutions were mentioned as a means for tying up loose ends, but nothing related to the investigation--even the police interrogations--had a ring of truth.

I love riddles and games, and I would have been perfectly content to have the book focus almost exclusively on that aspect. Instead, it tried to also be a love story, a buddy story, multiple father/son stories, and a love letter to Princeton. Some writers succeed in weaving together so many themes, but Caldwell and Thomason probably should have known their limitations.

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