Spoilers. There are also spoilers for the video game Until Dawn. This review is weird.
I have so many mixed feelings about this book. I don’t even know how to rate it or what to say about it first.
It was okay. And not like a kind of half-hearted okay, meaning that it was bearable. Normally, I read several books at the same time, but, when I was reading this one, it was the only one I picked up. It was engaging and I wanted to know what happened next, but there were also some things I didn’t like.
My first complaint probably won’t be a big deal to most people, but it irritated me A LOT so I felt the need to bring it up. Drew, the bassist, is under appreciated. I know that in the end he turns out to be one of the murders. He’s a drug addict and he stole other people’s songs, so he’s not a great person; however, in the entire band the only truly bad person was the bassist. What’s up with all of the bassist hate? I’m a bassist, so I’m obviously biased but still! Out of curiosity, I googled “Bassists are…” to see what google would fill in and I found “Bassists are useless” and “Bassists are failed guitarists”. Both of those statements are ridiculous and untrue, but just from that you can see how the world just seems to be against bassists. There were also some articles I saw about how bassists are pathetic and how they’ll be single forever… I need to get off the internet.
Anyway, in the book, the rest of the band wasn’t made up of flawless perfect people who volunteered at animal shelters on the weekends or something, but they weren’t worse than the rest of the characters in the book. The singer also seemed to be a drug addict and was constantly drinking, but it’s not mentioned as much as the bassist’s drug problems are mentioned. Also the entire band is secretly plotting to get rid of the bassist and replace him with a studio musician. He seems to know that they’re plotting this. I was a bassist in a band where they didn’t appreciate me, telling me I was “just a bassist” and how if I left they had a bunch of friends who could and would replace me. I kind of understand where his anger is coming from. I’m not saying that if I had stayed with that band I would have murdered people. I’m not saying that his choices were good. I’m just saying that on some level I kind of understand. Sadly, the murderer-bassist is my most relatable character.
Even though having an under-appreciated bassist is accurate, I wish it wasn’t in this book because there’s already so much hate towards bassists and this is just perpetuating the stereotype that bassists are crazy and horrible.
Going with the theme of the band in the book, I don’t get how they confused the guitar amp and the bass amp. Bass amps and guitar amps look different and are different sizes. If the bassist and guitarist use different brands of amps there should be no confusion. Even if they do use the same brand of amp, the physical differences between the two amps should be enough to remove any confusion. Also, if they have identical amps, you’d think they’d do something to mark which was which because if you play a bass through a guitar amp you’ll blow out the speakers. In the book, it’s said that they have a record deal, so you’d think they’d be able to tell the difference between two amps. Also, if they did somehow mix up the two amps and the speakers of the guitar amp blew out, that would probably be anywhere between five and seven hundred fifty dollars to replace. Not all amps are that expensive, but the amps I’ve used to play gigs are about that expensive and I would assume that they would have amps that good since they are an up and coming band.
The authors obviously didn’t research this at all or they wouldn’t have written the scene this way. It wouldn’t even have been that hard to figure out some stuff about bands-just call your local guitar store or find someone who plays these instruments and ask them about the differences between amps. Also ask them about how much it sucks to be an underappreciated bassist. YES, I’M STILL UPSET ABOUT THAT.
All it would take to make me happy with the stuff about the band was a little bit of research. Just make it accurate. Maybe throw in a few slightly more technical things just to appeal to the nerdy musicians reading the book? I’m not asking for the authors to put in the exact type of instrument each character plays or for there to be a long list of pedals and things that the people use. I just want a well-researched book.
Now that my musical comments are out of the way, I have some other things I want to talk about.
When they’re looking for the murderer, Kyle says that the crowbar is too heavy to carry. He plays sports. He should be strong enough to carry a crowbar. I am not very muscular, but I can hold a crowbar comfortably. According to google, a crowbar weighs about five pounds. So if he can’t carry five pounds, how is he on a sports team? I know that Kyle was actually one of the murderers and that he didn’t need a crowbar to protect himself because he wasn’t in danger, but his excuse was so stupid. Why not throw the crowbar into the ocean, or just “forget” to bring it? Or bring it along as a cover? Being the muscular guy on the sports team who can’t carry a crowbar seems a little weird and unbelievable.
There was a strange lack of swearing in the book. There was a little swearing, but you’d think there would be a lot more from people who were watching their friends die and just waiting for the murderer to kill them. There was a lot of swearing in Until Dawn, so I expected there to be more here (the Until Dawn comparison will make more sense later, just go with it). Perhaps the authors were trying to make the book something that younger audiences could read and enjoy without having to read a horrible swear word? But you’d think that if that was the case there wouldn’t be so much talk of characters hooking up with each other. Just saying. Also, if you think that people in their early teens don’t swear, you obviously haven’t heard them. They swear more than I do.
I don’t get why the authors put little bits about the rules that each character lived by into each chapter. I don’t think they added anything to the plot, and it was kind of weird. I guess it could have been a way to show a bit more of each character’s personality? But if that was the case, they were telling you what the characters were like instead of showing you what the characters were like. Everything I’ve ever read about writing says to show the reader what the characters are like instead of telling them what the characters are like.
Also, just going by the rules about each character, you can see which characters you’re supposed to like. Most of the characters have rules that are kind of selfish and horrible. Except Robin who has nice, friendly rules because she’s a good character, and you’re supposed to like her. Also, Robin thinks she can solves the murders, figure everything out, and save the day because she plays Clue. Obviously this makes her a crime-fighting genius. I can’t even. Also, she doesn’t have to solve the murders, because the murderers explain why they did what they did, and then all she has to do is run away.
All the characters in this book seemed very stereotyped. The only reason I can think of for the authors to have done this is that this book felt like a teen horror movie. Maybe the authors were trying to make it seem like a cheesy, stereotyped, teen horror movie. Actually, if the book was supposed to be like a cheesy, teen horror movie, and they were purposefully making it cliched and cheesy, I think I’m okay with that. If you’re going to write something cheesy, it’s better to own it and write something pleasantly campy than to pretend that you’re original and profound. To be honest, I don’t think this was their intention with it, I think it was just a cliched, stereotypical teen horror novel, but I would like to think that they were actually doing what I suggested.
This book is pretty similar to the video game Until Dawn. About a hundred pages in, I started thinking that it was a kind of like Until Dawn. I decided that it was probably just that specific part that was similar, that the rest of the book would be totally different, and that I would wonder what similarities I ever saw in it. But this wasn’t the case. The more I read, the more it reminded me of Until Dawn. I actually got to the point where I looked up the dates when each came out to make sure that there was no way one of them could have influenced the other. The Rules came out late June 2015, and Until Dawn came out late August 2015. There’s no way that The Rules could have been influenced by Until Dawn because it wasn’t even out yet. I don’t think that Until Dawn was influenced by The Rules because it came out just two months after the book came out and it would take way longer to make an entire video game as complex and visually intense as this one is. I’m obviously not saying that either one of these things was plagiarized. Plagiarism is a huge accusation, and I wouldn’t throw it around lightly. Also I honestly don’t think that either one of these was plagiarized because they came out way too close to each other. I just think that it’s kind of weird that two things with very similar ideas came out so close to each other.
In Until Dawn, Josh’s sisters disappear at the family cabin, but the next year he still has his friends up to his family’s cabin so they can party. While they’re there, he decides to get his revenge on some of his friends because he thinks they had something to do with his sisters’ disappearance, so he makes them think he’s been murdered and that there’s a psycho trying to kill them. His plan is to secretly film the entire thing and put it online to get views. He never planned to actually kill anyone, but people start dying. Even though at first they blame Josh, they realize that there’s someone or something else on the mountain with them murdering people.
In The Rules, August’s sister dies. Then, on the anniversary of her death, he has his yearly scavenger hunt, but this year he’s going to get his revenge on the people who he thinks had something to do with his sister’s death by making them confess to whatever he feels they did. Then one of them turns up dead. Even though at first they blame August, they soon realize that there’s someone else in the middle of nowhere with them, and whoever it is seems to be killing them one by one.
Obviously they aren’t identical. There are many differences between the two, in Until Dawn the murderers are actually a group of wendigos who hunger for human flesh. In The Rules the murderers turn out to be angry people. Obviously, Until Dawn is a decision based video game and The Rules is a book, but there are still a lot of similarities.
Also Until Dawn is better, but that’s just my opinion.
Like I said before, I don’t think that either one of them copied from the other, I’m just noticing similarities and pointing them out.
I do find it a little bit weird, and maybe even concerning, that in two different things marketed towards teens, the plot involves a guy’s sister (or sisters) dying and him trying to get revenge on his friends because he thinks they’re responsible. But his plans for bloodless revenge go awry when a lot of people die because there are psycho killers or wendigos on the loose.
Why is it that several people have thought that this would be appealing to teenagers? Do they think that a lot of teenagers are into murder and revenge? Because either I’m WAY out of touch with what other teenagers are into these days, or writers are way out of touch with what teenagers are into these days. Maybe they just took the tumblr meme thing about “teens with their texting and their murder” too seriously? Who knows?
On goodreads, I gave this book two out of five stars, but I don’t really think that did it justice. So I’m going to rate bits of it separately because I think I can be more specific with that.
The scariness was probably a seven out of ten for me. I did read most of this after midnight when I couldn’t sleep. Being the only one awake in a big house does add a lot to the creepiness of a book, but even during the day I think it would have been pretty creepy.
The characters were probably only a two or three out of ten for me. The only person I could identify with was the murderer-bassist (and that just doesn’t feel right) because each character was horribly stereotypical in a way that didn’t work for me.
My rating for world building is probably five out of ten? It was okay, and it did set the creepy atmosphere that the book needed, but most of the descriptions of the landscape were things about how foggy it was. Yeah, being in a foggy landscape is creepy because you can’t see as much, but, if that’s the only description, it gets kind of old. I’m still okay with the world building, though, because the point of the book wasn’t the world building, it was a thriller. It would have been weird to have detailed paragraphs of world building in a fast-paced thriller.
If you like thrillers such as this, you’ll probably like this book. If you liked Until Dawn this might be disappointing to you.