Demian's Gamebook Web Page
Sign Up · Log In

Life's Lottery

(hardback)
(paperback)
(Kindle edition)
Series: Life's Lottery
Platform: Microsoft Reader
Author: Newman, Kim
Illustrator: Miller, Ian (hardback cover)
Release Date: 1999
ISBNs: 0671015974 / 9780671015978 (paperback)
0684840162 / 9780684840161 (hardback)
1931305935 / 9781931305938 (eBook)
Length:488 pages (300 sections) (hardback), 615 pages (300 sections) (paperback)
Number of Endings:120 (I think; it's a bit hard to count)
User Summary: You live the life of Keith Marion, an Englishman born in 1959, from birth until death.
Demian's Thoughts: This is an amazing book. It contains more possibilities than you could possibly expect, and the paths through it run from funny and touching to grim and disturbing. The more you read it, the more the paths rebound off of one another, increasing the meaningfulness of all that happens. The depth of the book is further enhanced by reading The Quorum, an interesting novel set in the same world. Even the mechanics of the book are somewhat innovative. The book uses the "go to x, then y" instruction, which requires the reader to read two sections in a row -- this means that events that happen in the middle of several different paths don't have to be pasted repeatedly into different parts of the book. A nice space-saver. Even more interesting is the fact that the book works if you ignore the instructions and simply read it from cover to cover -- there are intermediate sections which can only be found if you read it this way and which give meaning to the proceedings. In my opinion, this is a book that everyone (gamebook fan or not) should read. It shows the remarkable power of the interactive format, and it's more than just a little bit thought-provoking. The only points which may go against it for some people are its frequent references to British culture (which I love, but which may confuse some international readers) and its subject matter (there's quite a bit of sex, violence and profanity in here). Still, I just can't recommend this book enough. Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.ca should be able to hook you up with a copy if you can't find one elsewhere.

More reviews by Demian

Enigmatic Synergy's Thoughts: Where exactly do I start? This book is simply amazing. Indeed, as the back cover directly states, Life's Lottery is a "novel you can play like a game, read like a book, or live like a life." I have been precisely doing all three; Life's Lottery is a book like no other. It is a gamebook that takes the mechanism(s) and functionality of what makes gamebooks so great to begin with, and expands on that with many, many stories that branch into what sometimes seems like a never-ending quest for the true meaning of life. This book may very well be the epitome of existentialism. Notions of human life are dealt with in nearly every single branch of the book. As living, breathing people, we all make choices and decisions every single day of our life that impacts us in some way, shape, or form in the near-future or distant-future. The scary thing about this idea (and truism) is that many of these decisions go unnoticed and are controlled by the subconscious! This book deals with the subconscious subtleties that we face every day and exposes them to our conscious. The stories and branches in this book deal with the very human element of reflection--something that we are all capable of doing at some point in our lives. If one has never sat down to ponder the meaning of his life or the decisions that led to his current situation or scenario, this book will assist in doing just that. To call this book a thought-provoker would simply be an understatement, and I think that this book can be a true eye-opener to many regardless of one's current situation.

In terms of the writing and style of Life's Lottery, the book delivers wit and humor that are sometimes so subtle that the reader may have to read a passage a few times to fully understand the context. Being that this is a British book, most of the humor and references deal with British culture, such as television shows, school/university life, and politics. It is understandable for one to become confused with these references, as I was and still am sometimes confused with certain references (until I end up doing my own research on them, such as understanding what-in-the-heck Rag Day is). The author does a terrific job in linking all of his choices together, and sometimes looping the choices into a flashback scenario if read in a particular order. As already pointed out in Demian's review, what may be the most interesting and fascinating thing about this book is the fact that it can be read from start to finish. Yep, that's right, I said it--from beginning to end. This may seem fuzzy at times and the continuity may not be as straightforward, but such is life. In this game we call life, we sometimes live our life with our mind in different time periods. It is not uncommon for myself, as a young adult, to daydream back to when I was a child or a teenager, essentially re-living that time period in my head and playing out the different scenarios that could have happened had I made choice B or choice C instead of choice A. The fact that this can be done in this book, while still remaining coherent and making sense is simply awesome. While this may appeal to the reader after one has thoroughly read the book the "correct" way in terms of in the choose-your-own-adventure sense, I would not recommend one to read it in this way only; this book needs to be experienced in its interactive fashion to get a full sense of how powerful and deep it really is. In terms of choices, this book has the most I have ever encountered in a gamebook. Although, the book is straight-forward in terms of its typical choice A or choice B design, the branching is very complex and it can take one a long, long time to read through every single choice possible. The choices have a wide range--from happy to sad, blissful to depressing, uplifting to downright disturbing. Every choice has a strong and unique message though, which makes this book the ultimate RPG of life itself.

As if it were not obvious enough, I can go on and on with this book. It has truly enhanced the way I see life--something that is too often taken for granted. Tomorrow is not guaranteed, and the little decisions we make every day, even the smallest of decisions I am making as I type this review, may have an impact on my later life. If you are a casual gamebook fan or a hardcore gamebook junkie, you might want to do yourself a favor and pick up this book. It may cost you a pretty penny though; I live in the States and I paid $39.99 (plus shipping). It is, without a doubt, worth it, and I hope to encounter more books like this in the future!

More reviews by Enigmatic Synergy

Guillermo's Thoughts: This book is without a doubt the best work of gamebook fiction ever published. It puts the reader in control the actions of a British baby boomer man from early childhood and into adulthood. While Kim Newman is known primarily as a genre writer, and the book combines mundane events with elements of science fiction, fantasy, westerns and horror (sometimes in a Twilight Zone-like fashion), this book is not primarily genre fiction. The book offers a very large number of paths to explore, and the decisions made by the reader affect not only the fate of the main character, but also change the lives of several central characters in significant ways. Unlike a lot of pick-a-path books, which basically consist of events joined together by choices in a haphazard fashion, this book is crafted to show how specific sequences of decisions lead to specific outcomes, with each path contributing something to the overall message of the book. As you have read in other reviews, there is an additional storyline which can only be found if you read the book in linear fashion. This storyline serves to clarify a central plot device shared by several of the interactive paths. This is a daring idea, since not many readers may be willing to read such a long book (close to 500 pages) twice. However, in this case it works quite well.

While a superficial reading might suggest that the book offers a preachy and trite message ("happiness involves leaving the world behind and meditating in Tibet"), in reality it draws the reader into a much deeper reflection about the values of the author´s generation and how these conflict with the harsh realities of the contemporary world. Its main strength is that this message can only be appreciated by reading the book in a nonlinear fashion.

Now for the complaints (you knew there had to be some). The book takes a while to get into. While the complex interactive structure is in part to blame for this, Kim Newman’s awkward and unimaginative prose sometimes makes this book less involving than it could be. Also, as other reviewers have mentioned, the book is riddled with references to British popular culture of the sixties, which might make it difficult to follow for unfamiliar readers. The Titan Books edition (April 2014) includes a glossary (written by the author himself) which is supposed to clarify things, but it is of abysmal quality. You may have to do quite a bit of research of your own in order to understand many of the references. In spite of these shortcomings, however, the book is definitely worth a read.

Finally, I should note that the Kindle version of the novel is perfectly readable in an interactive fashion. You can fully appreciate the book if you choose to read it this way.

More reviews by Guillermo

Waluigi Freak 99's Thoughts: Life's Lottery is one of the most innovative, dark, thrilling, humorous, emotional, thought-provoking, and overall best books I have ever read. It's a nice breakout from traditional interactive fiction that excels on so many levels. The way your choices work is unique and interesting, for starters. In stead of having to make major decisions, you are asked to make seemingly minor choices that really have huge impacts when you look back on them. Then there's the tone. It's got a very nice, somewhat-depressing but mostly-straightforward ring to it that compliments the story greatly and provides several memorable passages. As Demian has already stated, there are several other things to like about this book, including its ties to The Quorum and the way it makes sense if read from cover to cover. This is a book that I'd go out of my way to get. It's unlike anything you've ever read.

More reviews by Waluigi Freak 99

Special Thanks:Thanks to Guillermo Paredes for the Titan Books Kindle cover image.
Users Who Own This Item: B0N0V0X, BarefootJimmy, damieng, dArtagnan, Darth Rabbitt, Demian (paperback and hardback), Ed, egokun, Enigmatic Synergy, Fireguard (softcover), Guillermo (hardback), hintoffilm, jcruelty, jeremydouglass, Jonman99 (paperback), juski, kleme (paperback), knginatl (PB), Mikeysbookz (PB), nefast, nelsondesign, Nich, qazplm (hardcover), redpiper05, rowns, Scuppa (2014 paperback edition), Sir Olli (hardback), Twoflower, Waluigi Freak 99, Yalius (Ebook version)
Users Who Want This Item: BobaGabe, Braldt, Braxus, breity, Dronak, Gartax (Gartax (paperback)), greyarea13, MasterChief, NEMO (hard,paper,ebook), ntar, Pseudo_Intellectual, Ryuran333, strawberry_brite, zat

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

Related Documents

Structure Diagram

Life's Lottery Flowchart
Thanks to Callum MacKendrick for sharing this.

Related Links