From time to time, I like to read works outside speculative fiction. And when I do, thrillers are something I enjoy reading. To me, thrillers are like quickies. Not necessarily very fulfilling, but nevertheless satisfying. It's fast, fun, and it brings a certain satisfaction!;-) You get your fix, and then you move on. Okay, so enough of this poorly devised sex life analogy.:-) I enjoy thrillers because they keep you turning pages, always eager to discover what happens next.
Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason's The Rule of Four garnered mixed reviews. Yet the novel has gathered an impressive number of rave reviews. One claims that it's a «The Da Vinci Code for people with brains.» I bought this book last year, but waited all this time to read it. I needed something "light" to read at work as I was going through Steven Erikson's Gardens of the Moon at home. Yes, it does say a lot about what I think of my fellow colleagues, but what the heck!?!
Well, if anyone is purchasing The Rule of Four hoping to be served a fair similar to that of Dan Brown's Angels and Demons and The Da Vinci Code, they will be sorely disappointed. Other than an ancient riddle to solve, this book is in no way akin to the aforementioned titles.
I won't dwell too much on that aspect, but let's just say that those who found this book profoundly erudite and a brilliant accomplishment were a bit overexcited. Truth to tell, the whole riddle storyline ends in rather lame fashion.
No, what makes this novel «compulsively readable» is the coming-of-age storylines involving the four Princeton roommates. They are the heart of this book. The characterizations are superior to most of what you can find on bookstores' shelves in today's market. The relationships between Paul, Tom, Gil and Charlie are what makes this such an enjoyable story.
The authors demonstrate a human touch that is seldom seen. The narrative explores what they are going through on the eve of graduation, and this is the facet of the novel which is truly inspiring. Forget the hype. Forget the riddle. Forget that it's a thriller, for it's not truly a thriller. The Rule of Four won't make history. Indeed, it likely made it to the NYT bestseller list riding on The Da Vinci Code's coat-tails.
But if you need an interesting book to read on the plane, the train, or on the beach, this one should do the trick!
The final verdict: 7.5/10