Reading Log: The Rule of Four
I was actually able to read Ian Caldwell's and Dustin Thomason's The Rule of Four for a graduate level class. My mother left it for me after Christmas, and I thought I was reading it on the sly, until I saw it as a possibility on the syllabus of my College Students Today class.
The storyline is very similar to that of The Da Vinci Code; a literary artifact contains a mystery that has been puzzling scholars for centuries until someone takes a different look at the problem and solves it. Of course, reaching the solution requires having someone else try to take credit for your discovery, being chased through tunnels, and ultimately presumed dead, but where would the narrative tension be without those details?
I'll be the first to admit that I'm not very good at pulling narrative inconsistencies out of fun novels. I thoroughly enjoyed The Da Vinci Code, and found The Rule of Four almost as compelling. But one thing nagged at me through the entire novel, and unfortunately, it is one of the major components of the plot. Paul Harris, an orphan, enters Princeton (that bothered me too, though not nearly as much as what comes next....) knowing what he would be researching for the next four years as his senior thesis: a very obscure Renaissance text, Hypnerotomachia Poliphili: The Strife of Love in a Dream by Francesco Colonna. Granted, I don't work with Princeton-bound students. But obscure literary texts and college freshmen never seem to go hand in hand.
If you can either believe or suspend disbelief about ths premise, and if you enjoyed Brown's novel, The Rule of Four can be a very entertaining literary mystery. It will also make for a fairly interesting discussion about college student development for my assignment.