Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Vine: Meanwhile

I've mentioned before being involved in Amazon's Vine program. I recently noticed that their terms and conditions actually encourage Vine Voices to post their reviews elsewhere online, provided that the places in question don't themselves sell the products. So I thought I'd give it a go here.

Here's the first in what I hope will be a series of such posts, my review of Jason Shiga's choose-your-own-route graphic novel, Meanwhile.

This rather novel book combines are comic with a 'choose your own adventure' story. You follow the events in the life of young Jimmy, after he eats an ice cream and then stumbles upon a professor with a lab full of ingenious inventions. The story progresses from one panel to the next following little arrows and, periodically, you the reader get to choose between one of two different paths, which lead down different routes and ultimately to different endings.

Unlike the traditional choose your own adventure series that I remember as a child, this is picture rather than text based. Nonetheless, I wouldn't say that it's for young children: there's still a reasonable amount of dialogue to read, a fair amount of patience needed, and some slightly complicated instructions. Following the arrows isn't too difficult, once you get what to do, but it's not always so obvious what your choices are in some cases (and I still don't think I've really got the hang of how the access code is supposed to work either).

It doesn't seem to involve that many choices and, because the story includes a certain amount of looping around, it can get quite repetitive after a read or two. I wouldn't say that it's likely to keep anyone amused for a long stretch of continuous time - though maybe that's my short attention span and others will enjoy revisiting the same nodes and trying the various permutations in succession.

For me, this is a book that I think I could come back to again and again (there are apparently 3,856 story possibilities), but not spend too long with in any given visit. Jason Shiga definitely is some kind of genius to have come up with this though, even if it took a computer program to help organize it into book form.

Available to buy from Amazon. Disclaimer: I'm a member of Amazon's affiliate scheme, so purchasing through those links may earn me money, though it won't cost you any more. (The fact that I could earn commission won't bias my reviews - though I expect that I'll only be bringing the good stuff to the attention of my readers here.)

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