Dec 11, 2008

Thursday: I miss Choose Your own Adventure books

Remember these books? I do, they were like videogames for middle-class kids. Especially if you got them from the library, which was pretty much the only place I knew of that carried books until I was about 12 years old (seriously I didn’t know they actually sold these things in stores). All these books always had the best plots too; there was the book where you got captured by huge ant alien people, The book where you became a world class bicyclist due to some amazing device that a dying professor gave you (or as I like to call it "The Floyd Landis Story"), the book where you search for treasure a deep sea diver, the book where you’re in a band and 2 of your members get kidnapped an you have to go find them, and so many others. Ahh yes, good times.

Also I remember that on the back of the book s they always had that banner that proclaimed how many possible endings to the story there were, most had somewhere around 18 but if you could find one with 30 possible endings, you knew that book was going to be special. Only you really didn’t completely think it through, because all those endings meant you basically died, or failed within the first 5 pages every time. So you’re sitting there trying to keep bookmarks with your fingers on the previous decisions so when you inevitably die you can go back to that last decision and change your mind and find out if possibly the story could have been a whole lot better if you’d chosen differently. The answer was always the same… “no, not really”. See, for all the options that the books offered, the endings were always, always terrible. There was a huge buildup lasting maybe 15 pages and 5 harowing decisions and then you decide to follow that secret agent into the corridor instead of reporting back to HQ like you should and BLAM!, that was it.

I think the thing I miss most about them was simplicity of the book. It presented you with a crazy story, but then unlike every other boring one-tracked book you’d ever read, it suddenly gave you a chance to change something. It gave you some power over the story, it got you involved. Like I alluded to earlier, it was like the great granddaddy of the gameboy, or I guess at this point the DS,or PSP. And sometimes the simplicity and charm of things like books that give you options about the main characters fate, just can never be matched.

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