The First Three Rules (My Brother's Keeper #1)

My Brother's Keeper (Book One): The First Three Rules - Adrienne Wilder

I had hopes for this one, since I loved In The Absence of Light, but this just did not deliver.

 

This was way too insta, and even included the dreaded "sex right after serious injury" trope that I hate so much. Which is a shame, because this had some promise at the beginning with Jon's depression and suicidal ideation, and with Ellis's struggles taking care of his older brother who has severe mental disability. But then it went downhill fast. Jon meets Rudy and Ellis, and as long as he's with them, his anxiety and PTSD don't bother him at all. Uh-huh. Sure. Then due to a series of unfortunate events, he all but moves in with Ellis and Rudy after knowing Ellis for all of two seconds. There was a lot of promise in the first few chapters, so it was a pity that it wasn’t lived up to. I kept reading hoping it would climb its way back up but it didn't.

 

And as for the paranormal aspects, I just didn't feel they were needed and that they actually cheapened the story. For instance,

the bully/bad guys' homophobia may or may not be influenced by some mysterious evil something or other lurking inside him. Because people can't be bigots and jerks on their own, dontcha know.

(show spoiler)

Granted, that could be because this is just starting to build up those elements and their functions will be more integral in the next two books. From the reviews I skimmed for the remainder of the series, that does indeed seem to be the case.

 

As for the editing, it's non-existent unfortunately. Compound words are often separated into two words. There are missing words and missing or incorrect punctuation use throughout, and words that should have been hyphenated often weren't, making some sentences hard to read. Plus, the timeline seemed to be inconsistent. For instance, some visitors come to Ellis's house, and the next day it's said that they came "the other day" indicating it was more than one day ago. It was hard to keep track of the passage of time, sometimes even within the same scene. And then halfway through the book, we're told it's 1991! Here I was thinking it's a contemporary.

 

I also had trouble buying how

a then 12-year old Ellis was able to live alone with his mentally-disabled 24-yr old brother with the mind of a 4-year old. Sure, Rudy was technically an adult, but how in the world could he be Ellis's legal guardian? Even if it was the 70s, I just can't see that happening, small town or not. How did Ellis get all the bills or Rudy's disability checks in his name? How did he cash those checks? How did he get control of the settlement account from their parents' deaths? How did he pay the bills? I know the sheriff and his wife (a teacher, no less) was helping them, but that just made it harder to swallow. Ms Wilder goes through a great deal of trouble trying to make this aspect of Ellis's and Rudy's background believable, but it just didn't work for me. Why not just make Ellis older? Make him 18, or even 16 or 17 so he'd be old enough to become an emancipated minor. It wouldn't have changed anything about the story at all. But I guess that wouldn’t have been tragic enough.

(show spoiler)

 

About the only bright spot in this was Rudy; he was a delightful character, though he would no doubt aggravate some readers. While I did like Jon and Ellis, I didn't feel the chemistry between them.