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Tattoo of Death

Series: Choose Your Own Adventure (1979-1998) #159
Choose Your Own Adventure (2005-) #22
Translated Into: El tatuaje de la muerte (Spanish)
Adapted Into: Tattoo of Death (Graded Reader) (Gamebook)
Author: Montgomery, R. A.
Illustrators: Mattingly, David B. (cover)
Bolle, Frank (interior)
Marron, Jose Luis (reissue cover)
Cannella, Marco (reissue interior)
Release Dates: 1995
2006 (reissue)
ISBN: 1933390220 / 9781933390222 (reissue)
Length:113 pages (reissue)
Number of Endings:15
User Summary: When you make friends with two Chinese-American boys who have been studying in your Tai Chi class, you quickly get forced into joining a Chinese gang called the Red Flowers, each member of which must get a tattoo as an initiation rite. From then on, you must try to bring the Red Flowers to justice.
stonemason's Thoughts: One notable thing about this book is it displays a rather twisted sense of humor here and there, in keeping with the very dark theme of the story. Indeed, this is a lot grittier than the average CYOA. In fact, it could just as easily have been aimed at adults. That's not to say it's gratutiously violent, though -- it's still perfectly appropriate for older children and teenagers (but it would frighten younger children, especially the rather disturbing picture on page 113).

Secondly, it is very well-written, which is good considering that this author, R. A. Montgomery, is usually more fond of bizarre, incoherent storylines. You, the main character, get quite a bit of background and family history, as do most of the other characters. Also, there are frequently unusual plot twists in which you find out that one of the "good guys" is actually evil, or vice versa. Sometimes these kind of twists happen multiple times in one reading.

Finally, it's internally consistent. There are only two or three happy endings, but even the unhappy ones reveal new bits of background information that you can't get anywhere else. It's amazing just how powerful and widespread the Red Flowers are! I just can't recommend this book enough. It's one of Montgomery's best.

More reviews by stonemason

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