Monday, January 26, 2009

Book Review: The Rule of Won by Stefan Petrucha

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.

15 comments:

Meg89 said...

The great thing about staying up till the wee hours of the morning is a guilt-free afternoon nap! (My naps normally come after classes and before work--I am a student with a blessed schedule this semester, but I brag...)

I liked your review, I think I'll have to look into adding this one to The List.

Happy Reading!

Kristen M. said...

I finish most of my books between about 1am and 4am. I am also lucky enough to be the parent of a preschooler that sleeps in! I will be in a lot of trouble when I have to start waking up at a reasonable time again.

Beth Kephart said...

You couldn't possibly love sleeping more than reading. Couldn't.

karinlibrarian said...

I really enjoyed THE RULE OF WON too. I thought the part about Alyssa drawing the pictures could have been left out though and it would have been just as good. I really liked Caleb's character. He was very entertaining.

Taylor said...

Ha, I'm right there with you on the love of sleeping!

I love reading reviews where the blogger is excited to tell other people about what they read. It makes me feel like their almost sitting next to me, and needless to say it gets me excited too. This review was one of those.

Guess that means I just might have to slip this book somewhere into my pile.

-Taylor

Christina Farley said...

I know what you mean by sleeping- bliss! I'm putting this book on my list of must reads. Right now I'm fast drafting like a maniac, but when things calm down I'm going to have some reading fun.

I love your site and book reviews. Thanks as always.

Steph Su said...

Wow, okay. I hadn't heard of this book, but it sounds really exciting, so I'll be sure to keep an eye out for it!

Staci said...

How do you manage to stay awake? I can only read for about 30 minutes in bed and the next thing I know, my face is in the book!!

Loved your review...definitely is a book that I could get into. Another one on my TBR list!!!

Reader Rabbit said...

Now that you mention it, it does remind me of the Wave.
Great review :) Glad you enjoyed it too.

violetcrush said...

Sounds good and really different too. I love the cover, I would have definetely picked it up if i had seen it in a bookstore (i.e obviously after reading the blurb). Great review.

Lenore said...

Meg - Well, as a freelancer, I've had my share of naps too.

Kristen - All of my friends who have preschoolers and know about my sleeping habits advise me not to have preschoolers.

Beth - They are neck and neck.

Karin - It would have been just as good, but I liked that supernatural touch all the same.

Taylor - You should - it's worth it!

Christina - Thanks!! When things calm down I hope you read like a maniac.

Steph - Glad I could introduce you to it.

Staci - Yeah, that's what usually happens to me too. But this one kept me awake.

RR - So you've read The Wave? I got the graphic novel of it at the Frankfurt Book Fair last year, but I hadn't heard of it before I came to Germany.

Violet - Well, I am glad to see someone likes the cover. And I'm sure the cover artist is too.

carolsnotebook said...

Ooh, sleeping sounds good right now. The book sounds great, though.

S. Krishna said...

This one sounds interesting! And I LOVE to sleep too...

Dar said...

Hey, I like the look of your blog. I usually read it in the reader but I've been opening them up lately to see what I'm missing-lol. I love your header.

I love a book that keeps me up like that. Glad you liked this one. I usually read between 9pm and 1 or 2 am. There's no interuptions and I can relax.

Ladytink_534 said...

That's a neat cover. I don't think there is anything I love more than reading...

I might just have to add this to my list!