Demian's Gamebook Web Page

Item - Virus Outbreak


Series: EDGE - You Choose If You Live or Die — no. 1
Author: Chapman, Simon
Date: March 14, 2013
ISBN: 1445113635 / 9781445113630
Length: 96 pages (90 sections)
Number of Endings: 16 (only one victory)
User Summary: A strange virus is killing the entire population. As one of the few survivors, you must brave the deserted countryside in order to find your family.
Guillermo's Thoughts: Franklin Watts has been quite successful at getting young readers interested in choose-your-own-adventure books in Britain. Under different series names (I, Hero; Crime Team; iHorror, etc.) they have published more than 50 such books at the time of this writing, with several more planned into late 2016 and 2017. While it is certainly good news that children can still get interested in gamebooks, the quality of those books I’ve read (all of them written by Steve Barlow and Steve Skidmore) is underwhelming. Instead of giving up, I decided to give the publisher another shot by reading a book written by a different author. I´m glad I did.

The series this book belongs to is titled "You Choose if You Live or Die." So far, only four titles have been made available, and all of them were almost simultaneously published in late 2013 (currently, they are available in print and Kindle versions). The book includes no rules, but there is an attempt to introduce luck into the proceedings by making the reader choose between two pages at random at some points.

The story has a plot which is clearly influenced by the Mad Max films, and like Freeway Fighter or the Freeway Warrior series, it succeeds at conveying a sense of desolation and helplessness as the reader explores the post-apocalyptic countryside. There is a clearly defined plot consisting of a series of challenges that really draw the reader into the story. Gameplay is also much more fun than in the books by Barlow and Skidmore. While in books by those authors choices are extremely repetitive for the most part (in a fantasy book every choice would be "do you use your sword or use magic," for instance), the choices in this book change meaningfully from one decision point to the next.

The book is not easy to complete – there is only one successful ending, and it will likely take you many tries to reach it. Unlike other gamebooks, the author often does not give the reader enough information to make an informed decision, which might feel a little like cheating on his part. However, the story and the choices are interesting enough so that replaying does not feel tedious at all. Another nice touch is that, if you die, the book does not force you to start all over from the beginning; there is a series of "save points" throughout the book from which you can restart the game. This makes the book a less frustrating read than other interactive titles by this publisher.

Overall, I recommend this book, and will certainly read other titles in the series.

More reviews by Guillermo

Special Thanks:Thanks to Guillermo Paredes for the cover image, plot summary and other details.

Please log in to manage your collection or post a review.