I remember the original Choose Your Own Adventure books from when I was a kid with a gleeful fondness. After all, thirty years ago there wasn't much innovation or marketing going on in the world of kid's books. The word "tween" hadn't even been invented yet. In 2002, when the rights of the titles in the CYOA series reverted back to author and series founder RA Montgomery, he began re-releasing this books and, based on the smiles on the faces of parents I help locate these books while at work, many of you remember this series fondly as well. The original Choose Your Own Adventure is still a fantastic book for it's novelty and is mostly purchased by (and ideal for) reluctant readers who are boys. However, there is always room for expansion and improvement and David Borgenicht, along with fellow authors and illustrators, and publisher Chronicle Books have done just that!
David Borgenicht is one of the geniuses behind the Worst Case Scenario survival books, the first of which came out in 1999! I also learned that he is the founder of Quirk Books, started in 2002 and publisher of the smash hit of 2008, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (love the tag line: The Classic Regency Romance - Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem!) and publisher of current bestseller Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children which I plan to review here soon. With The Worst Case Scenario: An Ultimate Adventure Novel - Amazon, Borgenicht, Hena Khan and Ed Stafford bring a level of detail, knowledge and excitement to this book which is generously illustrated by Yancey Labat. One of the aspects I especially like are the occasional two page graphic novel spreads that heighten the suspense and danger of the expedition. More than a novel, The Worst Case Scenario: An Ultimate Adventure Novel - Amazon feels like a case file. At the start of the book the rules of the game are laid out and the reader is strongly encouraged to read the Expedition File at the end of the book for help in making the right decisions once the adventure starts. The Expedition File, which is illustrated in full color where the rest of the book is black and white, has information like how to survive venomous snakes, how to set up camp, how to avoid dehydration and a map of the route that will take the expedition from the source of the Amazon to the mouth as well as information about the people, animals and insects in the forest. Second person narrative is used so that the reader is referred to as "you" and really makes you feel like a part of the story, which is crucial since the reader is making decisions that effect the story. A few pages at the start of the book are also dedicated to the biographies of the rest of the team members, one of whom is a documentary filmmaker chronicling the journey, along for the adventure.
As you might expect from the title and authors, The Worst Case Scenario: An Ultimate Adventure Novel - Amazon is filled with danger (snakes, falling tree limbs, jaguars) and gross things like botflies that lay their eggs in your skin, piranhas and tarantula wasps. The authors throw out just about every possible thing that could go wrong - there are 24 possible endings but only one way to read the book that leads to surviving and completing the journey, which can make the book fun or frustrating, depending on the temperament of the reader. However, I think that the level of detail and factual information included, along with the fictional adventure, should be exciting for any reader. I was lucky enough, with the help of Mrs G, the super-librarian at my son's school, to round up three "reluctant readers" who each had about an hour to tackle the book and get their opinions of The Worst Case Scenario: An Ultimate Adventure Novel - Amazon.
Cody, Grade 5 said: I am a fifth grader from North Broadway School. I recently read your book and I thought it was an interesting book. I got as far as the ultimate survivor at the end.
Miranda, Grade 4 said: I like the idea that you are in the book and you do what you want. I like how they have little scenarios with the information and pictures. If it doesn't sell I think you should give it some time.
Mason, Grade 5 said: I enjoyed what I read of this book. The setting is a fairly good one and I hope there is some adventure somewhere in this book. Thanks.