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Item - Data Center of Doom

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Series: Choose Your Own Adventure - Promotional
Illustrators: Cannella, Marco (cover)
Newton, Keith (interior)
Date: 2012
Length: 91 pages
Number of Endings: 11
KenJenningsJeopardy74's Thoughts:

Data Center of Doom is intriguing for the reasons it was created and the methodology of its writing, if nothing else. R. A. Montgomery's interactive books company meets the hi-tech prowess of Palo Alto Networks in this unique mashup of adventure story and firewall products commercial, spy drama and computer class, and the hybrid effect is seen in a number of ways in this book. For one, Data Center of Doom is shorter than the average Choose Your Own Adventure gamebook, just ninety-one pages (or ninety-three, if the "Secret online ending" is counted). Also, the copyediting doesn't seem to have been as comprehensive as usual; there are a number of sentences that don't quite make sense, even if it isn't impossible to interpret what they mean, and a few times the narration abruptly switches to past-tense instead of present, which can be jarring but never lasts long. The story's language is slightly more "mature" than a regular Choose Your Own Adventure book, with two or three mild expletives thrown in, and some vocabulary that will challenge even seasoned readers; however, it still reads like a young-adult book, and is appropriate for that audience. Rather than being mostly action, Data Center of Doom feels in some spots like an in-house advertisement for Palo Alto Networks, filled with complicated computer jargon that one without benefit of a specialized degree may have a difficult time deciphering, but ultimately, none of these unusual characteristics kept me from having a good time with the story. There's high adventure to be had in these ninety-one pages, and you'll find as much suspense as you want on your corporate-funded quest, wherever you choose to go. The fate of McElroy Medical company depends on you.

Your day starts early as official Security Architect at Mac-Med, a new company specializing in the development of medical innovations that could turn the world on its ear. Mac-Med is a young company, but is already well on its way to making an astronomical impact in the field of medicine, so naturally it deals with enormous amounts of original research other firms would love to steal. It's your job to prevent any pilfering of Mac-Med property, virtual or otherwise, so when you arrive at work one morning to find a bizarre configuration of outgoing network activity flowing from Mac-Med headquarters to an unauthorized base in the former Soviet nation of Georgia, you're suspicious something illegal might be happening. Who is responsible for this breach of company security, and are they of sinister motive, or merely negligent? Before you can perform preliminary diagnostics to weed out the problem, you are confronted by another company crisis, perhaps even worse than the potential information breach. A high-ranking Mac-Med representative, Haven Kurtz, has disappeared in South America while traveling to meet a partner of the company, and in rural Brazil, anything could have happened to him. He could be dead or held for ransom, or he may just be lost, but why wouldn't he have checked in with Mac-Med if everything were okay? Your services as Security Architect are sorely needed in two places at once, and you must decide which problem more urgently requires your personal attention.

If you decide to take the next flight to Brazil in search of Haven Kurtz, you'll find that international espionage requires a cagey mindset, whether you're participating in it or pursuing those who are. The industry of medical breakthroughs is fiercely competitive and attracts powerful individuals who care only to line their own pockets with extravagant wealth and don't mind if that means slitting a few throats, including yours. Phony guides and local lawmen are potential pitfalls that have to be avoided at almost every step; you must be wise whose advice you follow, and whose companionship you will accept as you search out Haven Kurtz to find what kind of mess he's gotten himself into after only a day in South America. Unscrupulous rivals of Mac-Med may be willing to sell out their own employees to cash in on stolen research, but you mustn't let the same greed overtake you as you trek across Brazil after the elusive Haven Kurtz. Can you thwart the shady plans of immoral Brazilian company execs before they rob Mac-Med—and you—of your promising future?

You don't have to deal with reticulated pythons or deadly jungle viruses if you dispatch another security employee to investigate the mystery in South America, but that doesn't mean your job won't be challenging, or adventurous. Wherever the strange firewall breach is originating, you need to find it quickly, and your comprehensive server sweep may lead you down some chilling paths you'd rather not have walked. Is there a traitor operating inside Mac-Med, or is the apparent rift in company intelligence an anomaly, owing to the antiquated firewall systems Mac-Med still uses? Either way you'll have to convince Vikram Patel, the company CISO, to update Mac-Med's firewall protection, but right now your first priority is to stop the leak before any more sensitive information is siphoned. Who could be to blame for this early-morning espionage?

I have a hunch Data Center of Doom was something of a rush project, and I don't know who the author is, but the story stands as an interesting idea, with some atmospheric writing. I wish we found out the truth behind what's going on at Mac-Med under your watch, especially in the storyline that sees you investigating Mac-Med headquarters trying to find out how the cleverly anonymized info leak started, but I do like this book. I am, however, a little confused by the secret online ending. It doesn't read much like an ending at all. Lovers of Choose Your Own Adventure will want to read this book, which is available in its entirety (as of this writing) at, for those who don't luck into a paperback copy of the book as I did. Data Center of Doom is unlike any other gamebook I've ever read, and aficionados of the genre should make a point to take a look at it.

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Special Thanks:Thanks to KenJenningsJeopardy74 for the information and images.
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