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The Rule of Four

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This is an intellectual suspense novel about four roommates at Princeton and how two of them are linked to a 15th Century book named the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, which translates to “the struggle for love in a dream.” The two students become obsessed with figuring out the mystery of this rare document, and the story weaves together both the history of the document and the current search for its hidden treasure.

The two young authors of The Rule of Four surprised me with their insight and literary language. Passages like this one had me pausing out of respect: “To count a hundred million stars, he told me once, at the rate of one per second, sounds like a job that no one could possibly complete in a lifetime. In reality, it would only take three years. The key is focus, a willingness not to be distracted. And that is Paul’s gift: an intuition of just how much a person can do slowly.” Or this quotable line: “The delicious futility of impossible tasks is the catnip of overachievers.” Isn’t that wonderful?

There have been many comparisons of The Rule of Four to Dan Brown’s novels. In this reader’s opinion, the young authors of The Rule of Four have a way to go to reach that height. This book is enjoyable, don’t get me wrong, and a breath of fresh air after all of the political books this summer, but the book also suffers from the youthful point of view of its authors. If you’re a little farther removed from frat parties and sorority balls, you might struggle with relating to the main characters. The authors don’t develop any characters over the age of 22 in the novel, so that at one point I felt as if I might be reading young adult fiction on intellectual steroids. W With that small criticism, this is the most original bestseller I’ve read in months. A recommendation for the first novel of young authors, Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason, The Rule of Four. On the Book Beat for KSL Newsradio 1160, I’m Amanda Dickson.

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