They say you should never judge a book by its cover, but I’m certain we’ve all been guilty of it at some point in our lives. I’ve always made a concerted effort to not judge books based on their jacket art, but I’m ashamed to admit that the cover of the Rule of Won is so uninspiring that I just couldn’t help it. Stefan was kind enough to give me the book, and unfortunately it arrived in the mail the day I was due to leave for my Christmas vacation. My poor suitcase was stuffed enough as it was, so the book had to stay behind (blasphemy, I know). But when I returned from my balmy, semi-tropical holiday, I stared at the book (actually, glared and frowned is a better description) for days. And days. Those days quickly turned into a week and I realised I was still glaring at the book. I’m not one to put off reading, either, so I forced myself to figure out why I was so uninterested in picking up this book. After some thought, I realised it was the cover. It’s brown, featuring a book with the title of the book on it, and some geeky looking nerd boy. The kid is wearing a brown striped shirt, and the cover of the book on the cover is brown as well. So, so much brown. That much brown is about as enticing as falling in a puddle of mud, don’t’ you think? Alas, as soon as I realised that I was judging the book based purely on its cover art, I gave myself a slap over the wrists and forced myself to sit and read.
I’m happy to report that the contents of the novel are more appealing than falling in a puddle of sloshy mud. The Rule of Won is narrated through the eyes of Caleb, a proud, self-avowed slacker. The beginning of the novel opens with Caleb’s slackerness catching up with him. His sort-of-girlfriend, Vicky, bribes him to go to a meeting with her, which she hopes will inspire Caleb out of slackerdom. Caleb thinks the idea of going to the meeting itself is too much effort, let alone the prospect that he might actually be inspired into productivity. But he’s worried that Vicky will leave him and dubiously agrees to her request.
As it turns out, The Rule of Won (the book within the book, not the book you’re actually reading. Confusing, I know) is actually a book which preaches positive thinking. According to Ethan, their inspirational leader, if you really think something will happen, you can basically will/wish it into existence. A group of students form, Caleb stays for Vicky’s sake, and the Crave (as the group is called) start collectively wishing things into existence. Predictably, some of their wishes actually start coming true. Unpredictably though, to counter every collective wish granted, something bad also happens to someone they know. Some of the Crave members start second guessing the inherent nature of their demands, and several (not many) leave the Crave altogether, Caleb included.
Will Caleb uncover the real reason that all these bad things are happening? Or will the Crave successfully wish bad things upon him first? And can he convince Vicky that Ethan is not the Prince Charming that she thinks he is, and win back her heart? or will he learn something about Vicky that will change his mind about her? Maybe Vicky and Ethan really are made for each other after all…
My biggest criticism of this novel (apart from the problems I have with the cover) is that it is a little slow starting. The plus side of this, however, is that readers get to spend a little bit of personal time really getting to know their protagonist. Because nothing dramatic happens too quickly, I was able to really focus on Caleb and his thoughts. I decided fairly quickly that I liked him a whole bunch, slackerness and all.
I didn’t really like too many of the other characters in the Rule of Won, but after giving it some thought I decided that I probably wasn’t supposed to like anyone besides Caleb. When absolutely no one else has any faith in Caleb’s decisions, I still did. It was a little painful reading about so many characters that I dislike, however on the flip side, it also made me want to keep reading in order to find out if Caleb emerges on top. I was so desperate for him to beat their brainwashed booties that I found myself turning the pages at quite a remarkable pace. I’m not going to tell you whether he does, or not. You’ll need to read the book yourself if you want to find out.
The Rule of Won has a little bit of romance, appears to have a magical element (or maybe it doesn’t, maybe that’s its magic), and professes an interesting message. Cults are bad, mmmkay! Even when they look good. Especially when they look good. I’ll leave you with some of Caleb’s wiser words … if it’s really that easy, why doesn’t everyone already have everything they want?
Think about it.
Note: The cover in the picture attached has a grey background. The book i’m holding in my hands is alllllllllll brown. The grey isnt much better, though. What do you think?