I’ll confess. I love sleeping even more than I love reading. It’s true. And it’s why I very rarely stay up late to finish a book. But I did stay up last night until 3:30 am to finish The Rule of Won.
Ok, so The Rule of Won doesn’t have a cover that screams “MUST READ” and the concept – slacker Caleb first gets swept up in a cult-like school club based on a controversial book (inspired by the ideas behind runaway bestseller The Secret) and then becomes horrified by their fascist ways – is intriguing but let’s face it, it’s not as “OMG WANT” as say... killer unicorns. But get past that. Open the book and read the prologue. In it, a young girl draws pictures of things she wishes would happen. The electricity being turned back on. Her teddy bear being found. And then these things happen. Is it coincidence or is it something else? This is the question you’ll ask yourself again and again as the novel progresses.
The leader of the club is charismatic Ethan, the brother of the little girl from the prologue. He convinces students that if they want something badly enough – new funding for the school, better cafeteria food, their sad sack basketball team to finally win a game – they just have to "imanifest" and chant their desires into existence. And since Screech Neck is a poor town, they have a lot of desires. When all the chanting seems to start paying off, the club gains popularity. Soon, it’s hard to walk down the halls without seeing students wearing “1” buttons (hmm…shades of the swastika?) and the club’s message board, dubbed ‘The Crave”, is buzzing.
Caleb is a skeptic at first, attending a club meeting only at his (soon to be ex) girlfriend’s insistence. As a slacker, and one of the most reviled kids at school (due to an unfortunate school vandalism incident), Caleb has a lot to gain from the club. And things are great – at first. But when people start getting hurt, Caleb can’t stand idly by. The way Author Stefan Petrucha handled Caleb was my favorite aspect of the book – I loved his whole character arc, his honest search for the truth, and his truly funny sarcastic voice.
The plot reminded me in many ways of THE WAVE by Morton Rhue (aka Todd Strasser), a book that is extremely popular in Germany and was recently made into a movie. They both explore group fanaticism and how “nice” people can get caught up in violent and oppressive movements. But if that sounds too “serious” for you, don’t worry. Petrucha infuses the narrative with both humor and charm. The postings on “The Crave” were brilliant. Not only did they give minor characters distinct personalities, they also illustrated the types of people who are duped by cults (the outcasts, the power hungry, the crazy, hedonists, etc.) The book is worth reading for these alone.
So there you have it. Other than my lost hours of sleep, I don’t have any complaints. THE RULE OF WON is a gripping, timely, and sarcastic novel with a touch of the supernatural. What more could you ask for? It is available in hardcover now. Find out more at the author's website.