Choose Your Own Adventure #15: Beyond Escape!
By R. A. Montgomery
The new nation of Turtalia is caught in a death struggle with the evil Doradan state. Warfare has spread to San Francisco, where a determined band of guerrillas is holding out in the hills watching the destruction of this once-beautiful city. With the stakes high--for freedom, democracy and the rule of law and not men--the struggle against the police state of Dorado is fierce. But the spectre of none of these freedoms is worse. Don't give up!
I remember borrowing a lot of these Choose Your Own Adventure stories from the local library when I was younger. I loved the excitement and feeling of power from deciding how the story would progress – after all we’ve all had those moments when you just want to reach into your current book and either give the characters a big hug, shake some sense into them or kick the bad guys on the shins. I received this particular book recently as a gift from a friend who had visited the Strand Bookshop in New York (I plan to make a pilgrimage there myself at some point!) and I was excited to dive into some nostalgia and ‘choose my own adventure’!
In this story, the US has been split into two new countries: Turtalia, a democratic country and Dorada, an evil dictatorship. You work for the country of Turtalia and immediately have to decide whether to look for your missing spies deep in Doradan or go after an escaped spy who has stolen top level files from your base. After that the adventure splits and you keep making decisions going to different pages depending on what you decide. My first read through I ended up being blown out of the air in a helicopter by an alien spaceship. Not exactly what I was expecting. My second time I ended having my mind wiped and having the brain capacity of a three year old! A few further choices and I ended up rescuing my lost spies along with critical information about Doradan’s invasion plans, trapped with rebels deep in Dorada, lost in the wilderness, captured by Doradan forces and offering an alien civilisation refuge on Earth in return for their help beating Dorada.
I have to admit that after a while flipping between all these pages was a little wearing – especially as characterisation was limited. ‘You’ even end speaking to yourself a lot in the story to remind the reading what you have chosen. Sometimes the different directions you end up in are so bizarre – your choice seems to be what makes aliens good or bad, whether Dorada invades or not. Other people aren’t consistent with their actions and characters – one guy will be a rebel if you decide one thing and the same guy will be a spy if you decide something else while in ‘real’ life he would be one thing or the other no matter if you decide to sit at the table or leave. Overall, this was a fun little diversion but there is a reason this time of story doesn’t work for adult readers.
Recommended for young readers. 7 out of 10