Source: supplied by publisher via Edelweiss
Formats available: hardcover, ebook, audiobook
Genres: science fiction, technothriller, thriller
Series: Rabbits #2
Published by Del Rey on October 3, 2023
Purchasing Info: Author's Website, Publisher's Website, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Bookshop.org, Better World Books
The lore and legends around the underground game known as Rabbits gain new dimensions in this twisty tale set in the world of the hit Rabbits podcast.
After nearly winning the eleventh iteration of Rabbits, the mysterious alternate reality game so vast it uses the entire world as its canvas, Emily Connors suddenly finds herself trapped in a dimensional stream where the game does not exist. At all. Except . . . why do sinister figures show up to stop her every time she goes looking? Does Rabbits truly not exist, or is it being hidden? And if it’s being hidden, why—and by whom?
Meanwhile, architect and theme park designer Rowan Chess is having the weirdest month of his life, full of odd coincidences and people who appear one moment and vanish the next, with no trace they ever even existed. The game that is hiding from Emily seems to have found Rowan—with a vengeance.
But only when Rowan and Emily meet do things start to get dangerous, for together they uncover a conspiracy far deeper and deadlier than either of them expected—one that could forever change the nature not only of the game, but of reality itself.
R U playing Rabbits? Or is Rabbits playing you – along with the rest of the multiverse? That’s the question at the heart of The Quiet Room, a wild ride that is anything but quiet. Or peaceful. And only sorta/kinda a room.
The story is, as one of the chapter headings put is, “a Bumpy Fucking Ride” every single step of its sometimes meandering but always terrifyingly dangerous way.
Fair warning, there be “wibbly wobbly timey-wimey stuff” here, with absolutely no Doctor in sight – even if this version of the multiverse could definitely use one.
Emily Cooper, one of the protagonists of Rabbits, seems to have dimensionally shifted into a corner of the multiverse where Rabbits is hiding – not in plain sight as it was in the first book – but so completely underground and under the radar that even Emily can’t find it.
There’s clearly something very, very wrong going on, and the ‘Rabbit Police’ all too frequently mess with any progress that she makes in figuring out what.
They’re not really called the ‘Rabbit Police’, in fact Emily doesn’t know what they ARE called. What she does know is that they operate a bit like a cross between the Men in Black, and SPECTRE or some secret super-spy organization. They show up in suits and masks, kidnap her or one of her friends, sedate her, imprison her and ask her questions about Rabbits. Over and over and over again.
While Emily is running from the ‘Rabbit Police’, Rowan Chess seems to be running straight towards them. The extreme coincidences that form the backdrop of Rabbits seem to be chasing him down in that same world where Rabbits is emphatically not being played. Except by him – even if he has no clue what it is.
As the Rabbits players scurry, and the Rabbit Police chase after them, Emily & Co., discover that the end of this world is coming – even as the ongoing playing of Rabbits in other dimensions is intended to save the rest of it.
They have to find their way to the Quiet Room, the one place where this dying stub of a world connects to the rest of the multiverse. But they have no clue where it is – or even when it is – and no idea who is with them or against them.
Or even if one of them is the entire reason that the AI that controls Rabbits has decided that the whole stub – and everyone in it – should be shut down for the greater good. Or even whether that greater good is greater or good or even halfway well defined at all.
Escape Rating B: I honestly did not expect to like The Quiet Room. The first book in the series, titled Rabbits after the game at the heart of the podcast series of the same title, was a bit of a confused mess that didn’t completely gel for me as a story. I wanted it to, but it just didn’t quite.
The Quiet Room is still a very wild and chaotic ride, but the action is, for the most part, confined to a single stub of the multiverse, and the problem that the characters have to solve is a bit more contained and refined as a result. Meaning that the story hangs together better and makes considerably more sense to a reader looking for a story with at least a somewhat defined beginning, middle and end.
The Quiet Room does a considerably better job at particularly the beginning and the middle, although the end it reaches isn’t so much an end as it is an opening for further adventures. Still, the cast of characters is a bit smaller and their motivations are a bit easier to suss out, so the story feels like it’s on a fast set of rails that keeps the reader on their toes, guessing what comes next, and hanging on for the next corkscrew without flying off into the walls and ceiling.
The ending is only the ending to this particular adventure, but the way it delivers its last twist means that there’s plenty of room for the series to continue. And I’m rather surprised to say that I’ll be more interested in reading that continuation than I ever imagined when I first poked my way into The Quiet Room.