Caleb Dunne is a total slacker, so there is no way he’d want to join any movement. However, if he doesn’t then his overachiever girlfriend, Vicky(in theory they’d balance each other out, in practice…eh?) will dump him hard. So joining the newest fad is easier than finding a new girl, so dutiful club goer is he. But this club may just be perfect for Caleb. It’s all about the new book The Rule of Won. The book teaches you to be a Craver to use positive energy to will the universe to give you whatever you want. That’s as close to a slacker religion as Caleb has ever heard of! And it seems like it’s working too! Sure the leader is sort of creepy and Caleb’s girlfriend seems a little too in too him, sure the club seems way more like a cult than an afterschool pastime, sure any dissent is met with violent retribution, but that’s no reason to go rocking boats, is it? And if Caleb stops slacking and starts “standing up for what’s right” then he’ll lose everything and be the club’s worst enemy. So why is thinking about fighting back, and how do you fight a group with the whole universe on their side?
This is a weird, dark look at the perils of group think and the desire for easy answers. It looks at the flip side to philosophies that claim just wanting and believing in something is enough to make it happen, especially any philosophy that promises material gain as a means of fulfillment. Petrucha does a great job of looking at the emptiness of materialism and the dark side of any philosophy that claims that wanting something makes it happen. After all, victims of violent crimes shouldn’t be told they just aren’t positive enough. The fact that the book does so with a lot of humor and a brisk pace is really impressive. I especially like the message board chapters that show the building mania of the group and their rapid dehumanization. It’s a clever way to use real life uses of these types of philosophies to push the book forward quickly. I was drawn to the book by the great premise, but was propelled through by the humor and by Caleb. He’s reliably hilarious and Petrucha does a fine job of setting up relatable reasons for him to be so insufferably lazy. It is galling to see him chase after the truly heinous Vicky, but it fits with his “do as little as possible to get by” ethos. Petrucha has crafted a wonderful piece of satire that is both thought provoking and genuinely funny. It definitely deserves more attention than it got and I hope readers will give it a chance. I WILL IT INTO BEING. j/k.
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