Choose Your Own Adventure Spies
October 1, 2020
1937133397 / 9781937133399
144 pages |
Thank you to Dane Barrett for the information and images.
Choose Your Own Adventure Spies: Mary Bowser by Kyandreia Jones is the second interactive CYOA book written by this author, both of which have been part of ChooseCo's more recent Spies brand. Ms. Jones' previous book based on James Armistead Lafayette's adventures kept me engaged and entertained throughout the entire thing, and so I was hoping for more of the same here.
Mary Bowser, the character you take control of during this adventure, was a Union spy during the American Civil War. Previously a slave, she became a free woman after her master John Van Lew died, and she and the rest of the slaves in his household were freed by his daughter Bet who, both in real life and in this book, is Mary's close friend and an abolitionist who helps run a spy ring in secret. Mary sought to become highly educated and proved to have a photographic memory, so became part of this spy ring and was eventually assigned to pose as a servant in the Confederate White House. The entirety of this book's story is set in this house and the surrounding woods, which keeps the tale tight and focused rather than biting off more than it can chew.
I found Kyandreia Jones' writing just as fun as I did with her previous book, as she portrays the brave and adventurous Mary as a self-appointed hero type; more of a swashbuckler in disguise. Whether this was true to the real Mary Bowser is unknown, as not much was recorded of her actual activities despite several books being written about her life and most famous mission. This allows Jones to let her hair down and have fun with the character, throwing Mary immediately into a tense situation, risking her cover being blown wide open. Of course, as well as several spy elements, this wouldn't be a CYOA book without a bit of mystical strangeness thrown in, and the author handles this in the same fun way that she did with the secret animal ending from her last book. You can probably tell that I am somewhat fond of Kyandreia Jones' writing style and so it is difficult for me to land any criticism (constructive or otherwise) against this book, as it just left a good feeling of enjoyment and the tale is a perfect length if you try to discover several endings. There are also some quite relevant topical elements against slavery and the treatment of the African American people, but that is more in line with Civil War history than recent events.
Great book; I recommend it to anybody who enjoys short, interactive fiction.
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