Pros: Clever, fun, intriguing, and thoughtful
Cons: Make sure you’re ready to handle the topics
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Review copy (uncorrected proof) courtesy of the author.
Also posted on Epinions.com.
Although I have a ton of other things on my plate, Stefan Petrucha’s The Rule of Won (a young adult novel) sounded so intriguing and fun that I just had to make room for it somehow. It slipped nicely into my insomniac hours last night, for which I thank the author! At any rate, here’s the premise that intrigued me so much: remember that book The Secret? What if there was a book like that, and a bunch of people at your high school formed a club to use the power of the mind to make their “craves” (desires) come true? What if those desires came true, sometimes with unintended results? What if not everyone felt bad about those unintended results, and what if the only person in a position to get up and do something was an inveterate slacker who mostly just wanted his girlfriend back?
Dark desires coming true, teen angst and slackerdom, self-help books gone awry… I had to see what Petrucha did with that mix. After all, there was a lot of potential there.
To my delight, he lives up to it beautifully. Caleb is a great protagonist, with a sardonic wit, a slacker’s desire to make the least effort possible, and a few fun blind spots. There’s an awfully large cast of characters if you include the occasional chapters composed of message board posts from members of the Crave, yet their desires and voices are so distinct that I never had trouble identifying them. In general Petrucha has a great ear for details, and his world really comes alive.
I did have a little trouble figuring out why the protagonist was with his girlfriend in the first place—they certainly didn’t seem at all compatible, and while it’s hinted at that she’s changed since they started seeing each other, I guess I just didn’t see quite enough of that. I will say that even though there are good and bad guys in the book, Petrucha made the characters sympathetic enough or at least understandable enough that I never felt as though I couldn’t understand why they did what they did.
This ends up being a wonderful tale of desires, greed, selflessness, selfishness, sacrifice, mystery, and slackness. Sure there are lessons you can take away from it, but the book is so fun & fascinating that I never felt like I was being preached at.
I should note that despite the wit and irony and humor there are definitely some dark spots, and the subject of suicide comes up (it’s very well-handled, in my opinion), so make sure you or your child is ready for that.