How Not To Be A Rogue: mad, adventurous fun
How Not To Be A Rogue, by Zack Brooks, may have one of the strongest first person voices I’ve read in a long time. I’m starting with that emphasis because this book lived and died on its first person perspective. And I mean both words literally!
Brooks thrusts readers immediately into the life of a pauper living in the city of Amaford. From what I can tell, Brooks is slowly building a much larger fantasy world; the book comes with a beautiful map of the city at the beginning. I love maps. I’m a sucker for them.
And as a supposed “thief,” our main character Jimmy rushes around the city, doing rogue-like things. As the story progresses, Jimmy gets in over his head, bad things happen, and in the end, his situation progresses into a circumstance I can presume sets up future tales.
While the plot itself isn’t necessarily original by any means, the characters of How Not To Be A Rogue shine brighter than almost any indie book I’ve read so far. It is hard to write memorable characters, especially from a first person POV, but Brooks pulls off the impossible. I may have just finished the book, but I can recall the names of most of the cast: Jimmy, Grumps, Ma, Big Brother, Graham, Theren (shout out to having a villain with the same name as the character in my novel, by the way!). Yulie. Livia. Even the characters that weren’t on the page for long at all stand out in my mind (Jazmin).
Combine all of this with a dark, sarcastic, self-deprecating first person point of view . . . well let’s just say I read this story in practically one sitting.
On to the scores!
Writing: 9/10. Strong first person POV is hard to pull off. Brooks did it.
Characters: 10/10. Seriously. Read this book, even if its just for Jimmy’s banter with himself!
Plot: 6/10. Perhaps the weakest point of the story. It’s not bad, but it didn’t surprise me, either. It’s the characters that drive this tale, anyway!
Setting: 6/10. I can tell Brooks has a fantastical world behind the curtain, but we only saw a glimpse of it with this story. I didn’t get a sense of what made this world “fantasy” other than a few stray references to typical fantasy things. The city itself, though, feels alive with its Districts, and I love the map!
Overall: 7.75/10. A solid four star score! If you’re looking for mad, comedic, quick read, How Not To Be A Rogue will exceed all expectations. Its rich, multi-dimensional characters push the story from page to page; it barely feels like you’re even reading.