Sunday, September 06, 2015

The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell


Easter at Princeton means scramble time as seniors try to finish their thesis. Paul is still working on his, which involves trying to unlock the secrets of an old mysterious text the Hypnerotomachia. Tom, his friend, helps him out as his father was also an academic that focused on this book before he was killed in a car crash. Relationships and egos get in the way and slow down the process, which becomes even more dangerous when a research assistant is flung out of a window. Can they finally crack the code?

I really enjoy these types of books. Based on something that does exist, coming up with a story of the secrets that it holds. It seems like this book isn't too well loved and I think I can understand why. There are many points in this story where the focus is too strong on the characters and all work on solving the mystery of the book seems to stop for full chapters. It makes the story rather jilted because the payoff for the reader is what message the book actually contains, not about the characters involved in this book.

I think the other issue readers have with the book is the fact that the author mentions Princeton a few times every couple of pages, to make sure we haven't forgotten this book takes place at such a prestigious school. It does get old after a while, but I found myself ignoring it.

There were also weird jumps in time where the main character would reflect back on something that had happened in the past. I found it difficult to figure out whether we were in present time or past time when this happened as it seemed rather sudden and I wasn't sure when we were back in the present.

Despite these two issues, I still enjoyed the book. The payoff at the end was worth it to me, even though it was a rather pathetic ending for the characters.

First Line: "Like many of us, I think, my father spent the measure of his life piecing together a story he would never understand."


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