Rule of Cool, written by Matthew Siege, is a fun romp along with the “bad guys”, in this case, the lowly NPCs of Gearblins (and a few other races but the main characters are Gearblins). As you can expect, the NPCs are none too happy with their lot in life. Unable to fight back, back talk, or even dream.
Raze is the protagonist of the story. Chained to a desk in a lousy arcade, giving out quests to the noobs. All she wants is her freedom, but she’s forced to work long hours and starved for food. Yet, she knows there is more to life if only she could somehow become a hero.
Patch is a Gearblin who stops by the arcade now and then. He has an infectious zest for life and seeing the best in everything. When he visits one day, speaking of dreams and the mysterious Konami code, things in Raze’s world start to change.
What follows is something like if “Ready Player One” was more about arcade games, fantasy games, and current pop culture rather than being stuck in the 80s. This was quite a stat-heavy book, often with dice rolls interrupting the flow of the narrative. Thankfully, at one point and as a wink to the audiobook listeners, a skill upgrade means we get quicker versions of the dice rolls, but they still come thick and fast at times.
Lots of sexual innuendoes throughout, with Raze being dead keen on Patch. She takes every opportunity that comes to leer, makes crude comments, or generally expresses how desperately she wants to bone Patch. Fairly mild on swearing until a good two-thirds through the book. No spoilers as to why.
Plenty of winks to gaming culture as expected, outside of universe pop culture too… technically, in-universe, I guess since our world is bleeding into theirs. By this, I mean talking about Amazon, Netflix, Yelp reviews, memes (be they spicy, dank, or tasty), and thousands of other things.
Narration by Felicia Day was top-notch. Top-quality production and an enjoyable voice that’s easy to listen to. A little same-same when it came to the male voices, but distinct enough not to lose track of who was who.
This was a lot of fun, and I’ll definitely be listening again in the future. It ended with enough ambiguity, leaving it open for a second book or just leave alone as a standalone. I’d certainly listen to another in the universe if the opportunity came along.