First of all, this is one of the rare series that if you’re going to read it, you have to do the audio. You’re just missing something truly ineffable if you don’t. And I guess if you’re one of those people who can’t do audiobooks, then I don’t know what to tell you. I think I would have subtracted an entire star from all of these books without Luke Daniels’ performance. He brings a certain majesty of attitude and snarkiness, to these very silly stories.
I really had a lot of fun with the first book in this series. There was just something about the main concept, the narration, the characters, and the world that felt like the perfect escape. This book felt more like that first one did than book two did, which wasn’t as funny, and had more of Brit the Elder (a character I find very irritating). This one features the nerds’ old enemy, Todd, coming back for his vengeance, which takes the form of trapping Philip, Jeff, Tyler, Gary, and Jimmy in a video game of his making, and forcing them to go on a quest, at the end of which something sinister will happen. That leaves Martin, Gwen, Brit the Younger, and Roy to mount a rescue mission. All of this involves lots of meta jokes about bad videogames and bad storytelling. Tyler’s frustration at Todd’s poor game designing skills is consistently amusing.
This is actually where my only criticism of the book comes in. Practically speaking, we have to watch both groups conquer the same challenges in Todd’s game, one after the other. For the most part, Meyer does a good job giving us variation in their experiences, but it does get a bit draggy towards the middle/end. I was ready for most of the second group to just be fast-forwarded through (and he does do that to a certain extent, I just wished he’d done it more).
I also appreciated the way this book handled sexism (a topic very pertinent to this mostly male nerd group). Gwen and Brit the Younger are frustrated to be on a quest with Roy, who is the oldest of the time-traveling nerd wizards, having been born in the 1930s, and he treats them the way a man born in the 1930s thinks women should be treated. This offends the women, understandably, and Meyer hilariously has Martin of all people be the go-between for them. The scene where he explains to Roy why treating the ladies like delicate flowers is bad was pretty funny, and when he explains to Gwen and Brit how to deal with Roy to get him to stop treating them like delicate flowers, I was really impressed with the nuances they covered. Basically, he was like, “no, please do continue to hand him his ass, just don’t hate him for it while you’re doing it.”
The next two books in the series have pretty bad reviews so I’m not sure I’ll be reading them. Maybe eventually, but these first three are so good I kind of don’t want to ruin the vibe.