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Death by Cliche Paperback – May 30, 2016
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover," illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Learn more
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This is an interesting take on writing. A game developer ends up shot in the head (it isn't a spoiler if it happens in the first few minutes!) and finds himself in a strange world very similar to Dungeons and Dragons type game. He interacts with characters both "at the table" and "in the world" as he tries to figure out what's going on both in the world he is currently in, and the world where his real body may be dying. The best part of the whole novel is how it catches the real-life problems of D&D style games, and traps both players and DM's find themselves in. It, of course, brings up many of the cliché's gamers find themselves up against, and imagines a world where player characters are oblivious to what "role-playing" actually means. It blurs the line between "role-playing" and "gaming."
Buy this book. Read this book. Go directly to Bob Defendi's web site and comment on his blog, like everything he posts, and demand the links to his original readings of this novel! I remember wondering at the ending, whether the experience was real, a dream, or what, commenting on it, and receiving the best answer I've ever heard...that it basically depends on whether we want more (I'm paraphrasing.) I personally waited for this novel longer than I waited for the release of Duke Nukem Forever and I'm just as excited. (Hint: I was very excited and my zealousness did not die with the final product release.) I now eagerly await the next installment of Death By Cliché, which Bob Defendi claims to have actually written. ^_^ I hope it doesn't take another 8 years...
The story pokes fun at gamers and there's a lot of in-jokes that are really funny to anyone that has either played roll-playing games or knows someone that is very into those games. There's enough there to please even non-gamers so don't let that keep you from reading.
Some chapters are poorly written. On purpose. That's another cliché to watch for and what makes it infuriating to read. It's not bad writing. It's quite clever, really. Yet it's REALLY BAD. Story, characters, and writing style are all subject to various cliches treatments. You could use this book as an object lesson on how NOT to write a book.
But it's written that way ON PURPOSE.
So let's see if I can sum up my feeling about this:
There's a fine line between genius and insanity. Bob Defendi stumbles across that line repeatedly.... No, that's not right.
There's a fine line between genius and insanity. Bob Defendi saunters merrily back and forth... No, that's not it either.
There's a fine line between genius and insanity. Bob Defendi picks up that line and skips rope with it. Yes, that's much better.
If you find this review amusing then you'll definitely like Death by Cliché since the humor is much more clever and thought out.
If you don't find this review amusing then you'll probably like Death by Cliché for the same reasons.
As an old RPGer that has been out of the game for too long, this took me back to those heady days of dice-rolling, made me laugh at the silliness of my youth, and at the same time appreciate it for what it was. This book is deceptively light and easy to read, but there are some real issues touched on here about gaming, its place in our lives and how the way we game both reveals who we are and also changes us... sometimes even for the better.
Defendi hints at a sequel, which I shall surely buy.
The point of this book is not the story, which throws Shakespeare into convulsive fits in his grave by beginning with the protagonist's death and ending with the same protagonist's wedding (okay, his making out) (and hoping that his partner in smooching is not being played by a man). The point of the book, as Defendi disarmingly says up front, is different:
You see, this book isn't a murder mystery. It's not a heartwarming tale of overcoming massive brain trauma. It's about gamers.
True to his title, Defendi then packs in every cliché, reversed cliché, cliché turned inside out, and joke about gamers he can into this slim volume. In lesser hands, this might get tired. In the impish stylings of Bob Defendi, it's comic gold.