Rabbits – Terry Miles

Rabbits follows K., someone who has become obsessed with seeking out and discovering patterns and connections throughout their day-to-day life.  A few years ago, they discovered an almost alternate reality style game played in secret amongst a select few.  Very little information is available about the game, but its roots run deep in both culture and time.

K. is approached by Alan Scarpio, a somewhat reclusive billionaire believed to be one of the winners of a past iteration of Rabbits.  Over a plate of pie in a Seattle diner, Scarpio tells K. that something is wrong with the game, that he needs K.’s help to fix it.  Before he can explain, Scarpio is interrupted by a phone call and abruptly leaves.  The next day, Scarpio is reported missing leaving K. to pick up the ball and run.

Based on a podcast of the same name, Rabbits has achieved a certain level of notoriety through its compelling first season.  Author and podcast creator, Terry Miles, launched a Kickstarter to fund a potential follow-up but with the fundraising coming up short, a book became the next logical medium.

The original podcast flew under my radar and was one I’d not heard of before I was approached by the publisher with a review copy, so I was going into this one blind.  I would say within the first 10% of this book, I experienced Ready Player One vibes and quickly began to worry that I was getting myself into an Ernest Cline-esque 80s geek reference extravaganza, which is not something I ever want to experience again.  Thankfully, the geeky pop-culture stuff is merely window-dressing although it does appear to be ham-fisted at times.  

The plot here is a hell of a lot deeper than I expected.  Once it’s revealed what the purpose of the Rabbits game is and what is really happening under the surface, I was ready for the story to hit the next gear, but it never really does.  It began to feel clunky and almost too expansive.  I felt I couldn’t establish a connection with the story because even three-quarters of the way in, we’re introducing new layers and characters.  I felt the urgency at which K. had to put things right was at odds with the general pacing of the narrative.  It all became very tedious leaving me struggling to maintain my attention.

I also didn’t care much for K. nor the other main character of Chloe.  Chloe felt especially thin and seemingly existed as a love-interest/sounding board for K.’s detective work, who at the best of times was barely tolerable.  I didn’t feel the slightest chemistry between the two compared to what I felt the author had been trying to portray.  I swear, if I ever have to hear the exchange, “Are you OK?” followed by “I’m fine” again, it will be too soon.

I can appreciate what the author is going for here because stories about anomalies in reality and multi-verses are certainly a favorite of mine, but I felt maybe this was a tad too ambitious.  I think we could have lost maybe one hundred pages here and tightened things up thus allowing a much stronger story.  

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