Critical Failures #2 Fail Harder by Robert Bevin
At the end of CF #1, Tim & Co are stranded in the C&C world because Tim’s gambit to get them back to the real world by tricking Mordred into locking himself in a freezer backfired. Tim & Co travel to Cardinia, the capital city, because there’s not a reason to stay in the dangerous forest. Oh, and they’re looking for a bar to get shitfaced.
With Mordred dead, Tim & Co have to figure out how to get back to the real world. The benefit is that they don’t have Mordred dicking with them in this book. This turns out to be a good thing–they can work on the spell to get them back–and a bad thing–without Mordred, there might not be a way back. Period. First, they go to a bar with a minotaur bartender and get drunk. This scene is lovely, and I wanted more minotaur bartender and his no-nonsense attitude. We’re introduced to Millard, who lures Katherine and Chase back to his fortress. You can tell that this is going to end badly.
Tim, Dave, Cooper, and Julian go to the Whore’s Head Inn, where they meet Frank and all the other humans that Mordred trapped in the C&C world. These people have been around the C&C world for a while, so they’ve bought a place to stay away from the local NPCs and not draw attention to themselves. Tim & Co cause these people a lot of problems. Because they’re dicks. That’s how this series is–the main characters are awful. Specifically, Tim continues to level up in dickishness throughout this book. However, there are four teenage boys who’ve nicknamed themselves the Four Horsemen, and they’re introduced literally kicking a puppy. These guys don’t care about beating up on the local NPCs. The Horsemen are determined to curb stomp every NPC in the C&C world because it’s all fantasy to them. There are shades of Thomas Covenant’s dickery in these characters in that they don’t believe the C&C world is real, and they take that opportunity to do whatever the hell they want. Just imagine the Call of Duty trolls set loose in a fantasy world that has zero defenses against asswipes. They’re really effective villains, too.
The star plot point of this book involves staking a vampire in the most hilarious way possible. There’s no way a plot involving a dildo vampire stake can be wrong. And if it’s wrong, I don’t want to be right. Once again, there’s a weird tragedy to the entire affair because Tim & Co are kind of in the wrong and–as usual for this series–were major dicks to the vampire.
There are plenty of expected plot elements in CF #2, and while I didn’t feel it was quite as enjoyable as CF #1 in its twists and meta humor, I still loved it. It takes time to introduce the new characters, and they all suffer from being slightly forgettable. I loved the direction the overall story went in, though, so I’m forgiving of the underwhelming new characters. CF #2 ends on the mother of all cliffhangers, too, so I immediately jumped into CF #3.
Rating: 4 stars. The beginning feels strung out, and although the new characters in Cardinia are great, it feels like too many, too soon. The plot with Millard, the vampire, provides amble humor.