Bonnie's Reviews > The Rule of Four

The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell
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Feb 21, 2010

did not like it
bookshelves: thrill-me-chill-me, schlock

Egads, this was BAD. If you want a love-note to Princeton, then read this. If you want something to actually enjoy, do not read this. I will admit that it captures undergraduate life, and especially senior year, pretty well. But it also has the world's most boring mystery and characters I didn't care two whits about and an ending I saw coming since the beginning. Just because a book uses big words, doesn't make it clever.

My biggest problem was the protagonist's girlfriend (I can't be bothered to remember their names). As all too often happens in bad books, she has no real personality and serves no real purpose except to be a love interset, someone for the hero to pine for/fight for/give up the book/whatever for. Will they stay together? Won't they? Why is she so darn petty? I don't care!

Plus, it was pretentious and had completely unnecessary flashbacks to the narrator's childhood that were supposed to "illustrate" the theme/point/whatever of that chapter. Worst one ever: at camp, a young narrator and his friends modify the "make new friends/but keep the old" campfire song in a stupid grade-school way, turning it into something about ditching friends and wanting gold (we totally did this with the school song in grade school, and we thought we were devestatingly clever). The point of this trip down memory-lane? His mother, in all seriousness, sits him down to talk about how this behavior makes her worried that he does in fact value gold more than friendship and to make sure he understands that people are worth more than objects because oh my god young narrator might become the scholarly obssessive that his father is oh noes! I guess young narrator got all his brains from his father, or perhaps it indicates that lack of common sense runs in the family, because I can't believe a human being is so oblivious that she thinks modifying song lyrics is a sign that a child actually BELIEVES what he is now singing. More likely, it is in fact a badly written attempt to shoe-horn the chapter's theme into a flashback. All these flashbacks, which in fact just boil down to My-Father-Was-Obssessed-With-This-Book-And-It-May-Be-Killed-Him-I-Don't-Want-To-Be-Like-Him-Do-You-Get-It-Now?-Huh?-HUH? could've been cut out and made it a better (but probably still not a good) book.
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