Started 6/22/21 | Finished 6/23/21 | Format: Kindle ebook | Genre: Sci-Fi
Sometimes a bad book can still be a fun read. Not to say Rabbits is necessarily a bad book, but I certainly wouldn’t call it great either. That didn’t stop me from devouring all 400+ pages in a little over a day. The last 100 pages though, were more of a fight than those that came before.
Miles does a great job of hooking the reader early, always the first test for me when picking up a new author. Early chapters regularly end with the kind of cliffhanger that begs you to turn the page and see what happens next. Characters are introduced, and a mystery is laid before the reader. And it’s a doozy of a mystery at that, pulled from today’s headlines, filled with conspiracy theories and distrust of digital spaces. I found myself intrigued early, as a story reminiscent of Black Mirror and the like, began to unfold.
Miles leans heavily on pop culture references and big clue reveals to drive the story from the outset. This quick and easy table setting style should be familiar to fans of Ready Player One and The Davinci Code. The problems start, however, about halfway through the story, as the novelty of these reveals and references begins to wane. When seemingly every chapter is filled with nod and winks to the reader, I tend to tire of the technique quickly.
Miles’s characters also suffer from an overreliance on reference and lack of development. I never felt any character, including the protagonist, was developed past which video games, or movies, or music they could name drop. Towards the end of the book, I actually felt like I understood the characters less than when I started. The “ahas” and “gotchas” come thick and fast in the last third, leading to a bad case of narrative whiplash.
Even with these shortcomings though, I mostly enjoyed my time in the world of Rabbits. The novel is based on a popular podcast from Miles that also leans heavily on pop culture and puzzle solving tropes, so fans of the podcast should be able to look past it’s shortcomings. Rabbits is a pageturner in the truest sense of the phrase. It’s been a while since I’ve put down a book quite this fast, so credit where credit is due.
On to the numbers!
The Hook: 8
I read 300 pages in the first day and wrapped everything up on day two. Miles’ premise really got its hooks into me but I did find myself fighting against some of the negatives as I got into the last third.
Plot was easy enough to follow, as a straightforward mystery thriller. Miles gets lost in the twists and turns late but does an overall good job of keeping the reader up to date.
Main character was pretty well fleshed out, but way too many “twist” reveals towards the ends. By the end I had no idea who the hell I’d been reading about. Without getting too spoilery, I will say this confusion is part of the mystery, but things got way too bogged down and murky by the end. Furthermore, I really didn’t care much about the secondary characters at all. The love interest felt like a Cliff Notes summary of a character, which was still light years deeper than anyone else. The main villain was so undercooked I had trouble feeling anything but ambivalence towards him.
Story would rip along only to be brought to a screeching halt by far too many flashbacks and exposition. Almost every narrative chapter that drove the story forward was followed by, or even interrupted by, a flashback or info dump.
World Building: 5
What world? Everything took place in Seattle. Seriously, a story about an mysterious and secretive international contest takes place entirely in the greater Seattle area. At one point I got excited about a potential Oregon road trip only to immediately find out the person we had to talk to just happened to recently move to Seattle. Miles just kind of skirts the surface of this mysterious contest, which I’m sure is fleshed out better in his podcast, but as a standalone novel, it was lacking.
The last 15% or so of the book is filled with so many exposition dumps and half baked plot twists, I lost track of where everything was (and I was taking notes), then it just ended. It’s been a week and I still don’t quite understand exactly what happened.
1st person narrative is always hard to pull off but Miles did a pretty good job. At times a bit too “stream of consciousness” but I never felt it took away from the enjoyment. The book also leaned too heavily on shoehorned pop culture references as descriptors.
Warts and all, I really enjoyed this book. Had this been a weekend hammock read, and not something to critique, it would fit firmly on my Recommended list. So that’s where it goes. Sometimes you need a good, turn your brain off, popcorn blockbust book to fly through and Mills provides that in spades.
Who’s Baby is This?
I don’t even need a DNA test to know Ready Player One and The Davinci Code will be picking Rabbits up from soccer practice every Tuesday night.