3 out of 4 stars
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There comes a time in everyone’s life when they feel like leaving everything behind and venturing out into the world. It could be a job that you hate or a recently broken relationship that you want to recover from, a short span of vacation can help put things into perspective. Rusty Kenneficke has been going through a tough time. He recently got divorced and lost almost all of the assets to his wife. The little success that he had found early in his career as a writer had also become a thing of the distant past. His royalties had dried up, and with a serious writer’s block, the idea of a new book was like water in the desert. With the hope of clearing his clouded mind and sorting out his life, Rusty sold everything he had and bought a motor home. He thought that his adventures along the way would ignite the idea of a new book. What he didn’t know was that one book wouldn’t nearly be enough to jot down all that was about to happen to him.
Set in 1979, The Misadventures of Rusty Kenneficke by Keith Thye is the first book of The Rusty Kenneficke Trilogy. The book lives up to its well-thought-out name. As soon as we meet Rusty, we realise that he is the kind of man who defines the “bad things happen to good people” scenario in the most fitting way. From a first date gone wrong to almost burning up his parents’ house, this book follows Rusty’s streak of bad luck. If you've been planning to adopt the lifestyle of a traveller, then this book is a must-read for you. Rusty’s experiences will teach you a thing or two about what to expect from this life. A comedy of errors, The Misadventures of Rusty Kenneficke will also be well-received by people who like to read light stories. Those invested in heavy plots and complicated story-lines might be disappointed with this book due to its simplicity and the effortless flow of the story.
One of the best things about this book is its characters. Rusty becomes acquainted with all sorts of people during his travels. Each and every one of them is a different shade of personality and acts as an important lesson for Rusty. From a person who threatens to destroy him to a man who helps him in his most desperate times, Rusty treads from one end of the personality-spectrum to another, trying to figure out a way to keep his peace with everyone. A couple of times, he fails miserably in this quest because his bad luck trickles over to those around him, landing them in miserable situations. It isn’t just the strangers who become victims of his perpetual misfortune. His family, close and distant, soon discover what ‘a walking billboard for calamity’ looks like.
Rusty’s tribulations, no matter how troubling to himself and other characters, are hilarious, and even though you feel sorry for him, you can’t help yourself but laugh on the chain of events that led him to his sorry state. After becoming familiar with Rusty’s hard luck, you become inclined to anticipating the next bad thing. Often, knowing what’s going to happen next is not a good sign for a novel. It takes away the element of surprise and the thrill is drained away. However, The Misadventures of Rusty Kenneficke is not one of those stories. Guessing Fate’s next assault on Rusty’s happiness not only builds the excitement but also enhances your experience of the spectacle when it actually happens. Also, no matter how much you think you can predict Rusty’s future, it is always more creatively baffling and exponentially worse than what you could have imagined. This is the biggest plus point of the book.
My rating for this novel is 3 out of 4 stars. I found a couple of grammatical errors, but they were far and few and didn’t hinder my reading experience. However, the writing style went on and off throughout the book. In the beginning, I found the story very well-written. It was funny, and it didn’t take me much time to get invested in Rusty’s mishaps. A quarter into the book, things began to become rather boring. Even though the situations that the protagonist landed himself in were funny, I found that the writing wasn’t quite up to the mark. I was supposed to be laughing, or at least, quietly smiling while reading the comical accounts, but it didn’t happen. For a while! Almost halfway over, the writing was back in its original form. I was back to holding my breath and biting my tongue or laughing uproariously on another one of Rusty’s many misadventures. It was this turbulence in the writing style that bothered me, and I had to deduct one star from the perfect rating.
All in all, The Misadventures of Rusty Kenneficke is a fun read. It was full of likeable characters and humorous anecdotes. If it is ever adapted into a film, I’ll certainly watch it!
The Misadventures of Rusty Kenneficke
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