Have you ever been going along your day and for no particular reason suddenly noticed unique patterns in unusual places? For instance, it’s April 4th and you happened to look at your clock at the exact minute when it reads 4:44. Or perhaps you are convinced you know the name of a store you’ve shopped at or the title of a book you read recently, only to discover that no such store or book exists? If so, you are quite possibly seeing the effects of the game, known to the insiders, as Rabbits.
The game is highly secretive, though it’s been going on for sixty years or more, and those who play must put together these strings of unusual circumstances just to be able to get a clue for the next step in the game.
‘K’ has been fascinated with the game Rabbits for years and has been trying to find his way into the circle of players when he meets billionaire Alan Scarpio who, it has been rumored, was the 16th winner of the game. Scarpio confides to K that something has gone wrong with the game and it needs to be fixed before the next iteration of the game begins or there will be disastrous consequences. A week later, Scarpio is declared missing and the game has begun. It’s up to K to find a way to get into the game and save the planet.
I think it’s pretty clear that the first thing any reader is going to notice about this book is the quite obvious parallels to the highly successful Ready Player One book and movie. In addition to the whole ‘win the game, save the world’ trope, I should note that it is essential for players of Rabbits to have a solid knowledge of 1970’s and 1980’s pop culture. Really? We couldn’t at least pretend to be different and make it the 1950’s or the early 2000’s?
But one of the big differences between this and the obvious comparison is that we don’t spend much time with anyone actually playing the game. Or do we? Since there don’t appear to be any concrete rules other than putting clues together, it’s hard to say when one is playing or not. We do get K putting together unusual coincidences and making a clue out of it, and we observe as players make sense of or reason out why there is a different track title on a popular music CD. But that’s pretty much the extent of our involvement in Rabbits.
There’s a bit of mysterious ‘whodunnit’ looming over the book, running parallel with ‘how do we win?’ but these two tracks never quite meet.
So much time is spent trying to hook the reader into wanting to play the game without ever really telling us what the game is, that we get an Escher-staircase-like story, going round and round without getting anywhere.
This book was not on my radar, nor was it something I was initially looking forward to reading, but I fell prey to the marketing blitz and thought, “Yeah, I like games and secrets and that other big gaming novel, so this sounds great.” Unfortunately, I was left quite unsatisfied.
Looking for a good book? Beware the power of good copy writers who can make a slow, dull book sound exciting and unique. Rabbits, by Terry Miles, tries to be the next big game/adventure novel to lure in fans of Ready Player One, but the book only manages to tease without ever satisfying.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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author: Terry Miles
publisher: Del Rey Books
hardcover, 448 pages