Books are not usually much fun to read.
“Bullsnot,” you proclaim. “Books are totally fun. You’re an asshole.”
Shh, no, you’re not understanding this literally — stories are fun, yes, but once you leave childhood the physical act of reading a book (whether it’s an ancient hardbound tome like they used to make way back in the 21st century or on one of them fancy Kindlemachines) becomes a fairly rote endeavor. Pick it up. Read left to right, top to bottom, get to the end, have a snack, go to bed.
I am here to report that the fun has once more been returned to the act of reading a book.
Remember CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE books? Of course you do. Unless you’re some kind of moon dweller, you probably had at least one. Or, if you were me, you had damn near all of them. Those books offered branching stories — “Want to kick down the door? Turn to pg 72. Feel like pouring the witches’ brew into the sewer grate? Turn to page 89.” Then you’d make your choice, turn to a page, and you’d be eaten by rats or stuck in quicksand or turned into a flying monkey.
It was easy to die in those books. Every turn, a new inventive death. Only a few ways out “alive.”
Well, those books are back.
Um. Sort of.
CHOOSE YOUR DOOM: ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE — penned by fellow penmonkeys DeAnna Knippling and Dante Savelli — is just like those early iterations except for the fact that the book has no happy endings. It has awesome endings. But none of them are particularly happy. The book even advertises this on the cover.
Each page, in addition to generally offering you a choice, also offers a sketch of the action on that page. The PDF version allows you to click links to get to the next choice, which feels keenly interactive.
Gist of the book is this: you’re a guy at a bar when the zombie apocalypse hits town. After a few pages of basic exposition, you’re thrown into a series of choices. What to do when the bartender Marty starts to turn into a zombie? What to do when survivors come to the door, when zombies come crashing through the window, when you see an ambulance outside full of medical supplies (and also an orgy of zombies)?
You will navigate the town and find your friends Bob and Bennie, your girlfriend Addie, and your father. You might visit the zoo. You might find yourself at Cheyenne Mountain. You might even become a zombie.
It’s a fun story, cleverly written, with doses of humor throughout. If I had any complaints, they’d be minor — it’d be nice to have some of the side characters get a little more “character juice” and become more fully realized (before you perhaps dispatch them or they dispatch you), and also, some of the sketches, while fun, didn’t always match up with the action as it was described.
Even still, it comes together as a quick, engaging, humorous read.