Archive for Choose Your Own Adventure

The 10 Strangest and Most AWESOME Choose Your Own Adventure books

Posted in books, pop culture with tags , , on March 31, 2010 by Paxton

At the end of last week I talked about the genesis of the Choose Your Own Adventure books. Doing that research I stumbled across a bunch of my old books as well as a bunch of other books from Demian’s Gamebook Website that were, to say the least, wacky. I had forgotten some of the books even existed. It is amazing all of the different zany and offbeat stories and book covers you can find in all of these books.

Today, let’s take a look at 10 of the strangest and most awesome Choose Your Own Adventure books.

Mystery of the Secret Room (via Demian’s Gamebooks)
#63 Mystery of the Secret Room (1986) – Could they have come up with a more boring or generic name? How about Secret of the Mystery Room?  Room of the Mystery Secret?  And is it just me or does this cover look familiar?  Maybe JK Rowling borrowed this title for her second Potter book and the artwork for her third Potter book.  Generic mystery/secret + noun titles abound in this series.  Check out #141 The Secret of Mystery Hill.

Ninja Cyborg
#155 Ninja Cyborg (1995) – Yes, AWESOME! I don’t see how the story could live up to the bad ass title and cover but I give Jay Leibold credit for totally going there. A cyborg that is also a ninja.  This exists and it is bad ass.  Question: Am I the ninja cyborg or am I fighting the ninja cyborg? Points taken away if I’m fighting the ninja cyborg, but points given back if I’m also a bad ass ninja master.  Who’s the dude in the blue tights in the background?

Search for Mountain Gorillas (via Demian’s Gamebooks)
#41 Search for Mountain Gorillas (1985) – When I’m grabbing a book for a choose your own adventure, the last thing I want to read about is the majestic mountain gorilla. Unless, of course, said gorilla is a super strong mutant gorilla that has gone insane and started murdering a bunch of campers and/or scientists. THAT is a gorilla I want to read about.  Unfortunately, this is not the case here. This is, essentially, the novelization to the movie Gorillas in the Mist starring Sigourney Weaver.  And I cannot fathom ever wanting to read that.  EVER.

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The Origin of the Choose Your Own Adventure books

Posted in books, nostalgia, pop culture with tags , , , , on March 25, 2010 by Paxton

You're Going to Die CYOA
(via Something Awful)

I grew up loving Choose Your Own Adventure books. All of the different series were fun; Find Your Fate, Time Machine, Which Way. They all had interesting stories, some of them completely insane, and were fun to read. Shawn over at Branded in the ’80s has been reviewing a bunch of his off the wall, zany Find Your Fate books and it got me excited to finish this article I started over a year ago.  Let’s take a look at how the whole “Choose Your Own Adventure” genre started.  And, surprisingly, it started with one man, Edward Packard.

While telling stories to his kids, author Edward Packard came up with the idea of writing a book that the reader chooses how the story progresses.  In 1969 he would take this idea and write Sugarcane Island. Packard, at first, could not find a publisher who would print the book. However, in 1976, Vermont Crossroads Press bought it and printed the book which is now considered one of the first gamebooks ever published.

Sugarcane Island adv of you Sugarcane island which way Sugarcane Island cyoa
(via Demian’s Gamebook Page)

For the first printing, Sugarcane Island was released under the banner, The Adventures of You (on left). Its plot has you, the reader, aboard a ship that is wrecked by a huge wave and you must survive on an isolated and very dangerous island.  After being published in the Adventures of You series, Sugarcane Island was published under the Which Way banner (middle) in 1982.  Then, in 1986, it would finally come under the popular Choose Your Own Adventure banner (right), which was created by Packard.

After Sugarcane Island, Packard published two more stand-alone gamebooks called Third Planet From Altair and Deadwood City.  The first was a Sci-Fi adventure giving the reader the task of determining the origin of extraterrestrial messages.  The second was a western casting the reader as a drifter into the town of Deadwood City looking for a job and finding adventure.  Neither of these stand alone gamebooks were as popular as Sugarcane Island.  Even though these two books were stand-alone, they both contain the phrase “choose your own adventure” on their covers and are considered the “unofficial” beginning of Packard’s Choose Your Own Adventure series.  Both Deadwood City and Third Planet from Altair would be reprinted under the Choose Your Own Adventure (CYOA) banner years later.

Deadwood City Third Planet from Altair
(via Demian’s Gamebook Page)

A separate writer, RA Montgomery, wrote a second book in the Adventures of You series called A Journey Under the Sea in 1977. Subsequently, this was to be the last book in the series, however it would also be reprinted under the CYOA banner.

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