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Item - Fight for Freedom

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Series: Choose Your Own Adventure (1979-1998) — no. 107
Author: Leibold, Jay (pseudonym used by Montavon, Jay)
Illustrators: Tsui, George (cover)
Morrill, Leslie (interior)
Date: 1990
Enigmatic Synergy's Thoughts:

This is definitely a unique book that stands out from the other CYOA books that I have read. It is much different than what many of the other books have to offer, and I think that difference and uniqueness lies in its non-fictitious depiction of South Africa. This book introduces a topic that is pretty serious and controversial, taking place in a realistic setting. While I immensely enjoyed this for a change, I can't help but wonder how other readers feel about this, particularly the younger ones. Asking a reader, say, of elementary-school age, to take in and understand concepts and issues dealing with apartheid and segregation may be a lot to ask for, but maybe that is just me.

I do like that this book is very educational. It sheds light on issues that are still a problem in today's society. Issues concerning racism and segregation are no joke, and this book is not shy about spelling that notion out. The author is also not shy in speaking his mind and pouring his heart into the story, which is evident in its context. Since this book dives into politics, readers may be split on how they feel about the overall messages the story implies. The issues favor a left-wing approach and one may interpret this as a blatant bias on the author's part. Some sections of the story have something of a preachy feel to them, perhaps making it a turn-off for those who lean more on the conservative side within the political realm. This book is a shining example of why politics poses a risk within the world of CYOA books.

With that being said, I still enjoyed the book. It is also interesting to note that there are only 10 endings--the least I've personally seen thus far in a CYOA book. The benefit of this is having lengthier, more in-depth storylines that are more focused and concentrated. The author did an excellent job at providing a great back-story for the book, and many times I found myself glued to the pages because I was genuinely interested in the content. This is the first book by Jay Leibold that I have read, and if his writing and style in his other works are as strong as they are in this one, then I will not hesitate to read those books as well. Ultimately, this book really makes me sit back and think because issues of racial segregation and class warfare continue to plague the world. What is the real solution to all of this? Fight for Freedom may not have the exact answers but it will no doubt provoke deep thought.

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Good's Thoughts:

A long read favorite!

You go learn about Apartheid, and go on a long, but fun adventure.

Though the first choice ends one way and continues another, Jay engages you. When I saw 10 ends, I thought it was gonna be boring. I highly suggest.

Good if you have time to read. 6.5/10

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Jordashebasics's Thoughts:

As the other reviews have mentioned, this is a bit unusual for a CYOA book, in that it's heavily educational. This has been done before, but usually in a bit of a different way. Search for the Mountain Gorillas and Statue of Liberty Adventure come to mind as efforts to educate. The difference is that this one deals with apartheid, considerably darker subject matter. Plus, this is one of the few books where the text explicitly specifies that you are dark-skinned - Irish and Caribbean, I think. Because you wrote an article about apartheid, you get to go on a trip to South Africa. You may or may not get separated from your group, overhear a plot to assassinate an anti-apartheid activist, and work to stop it. Most of the story is you trying to work through the ways that apartheid policies prevent you from being able to prevent the assassination. The result is that the book is not especially fun, and it plays out like a nightmarish bureaucracy. Not all that interesting to kids.

I don't feel like the book is as preachy as some of the other reviewers do. Some of it feels a bit off, but I suspect it's just since the same material gets retread a few times.

The seriousness of the book prevents it from detouring into more adventurous territory, so it's a pretty dry book. Hard to get excited about.

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Stockton's Thoughts:

This book is different from almost all other CYOAs. Rather than being for fun, Fight for Freedom is decidedly educational (and not to mention political). The story is that you're on a tour of South Africa in the early 1970s to see how the black school system operates. The government wants to use you as a propaganda tool, but you want to get the real story. That's quite a lot to swallow, and it doesn't work well in a gamebook - especially one for kids. Mr. Leibold has created a story that, while unique, ends up being rather boring and a strange, directionless expose of apartheid to boot.

The reader's character is African-American. Though this device provides for some interesting situations (for obvious reasons) as one goes through the story, I didn't think it was very original. A Chinese-American or Indian-American character might have worked a little better.

And because it was written in the era of public pressure and protest against South Africa (1990) the book is rather dated as well. Understood in the spirit of the times, the author's motives are very transparent as a result. At times, the story actually comes off as somewhat patronizing. Children, I think, should deserve better than to be preached to so blatently.

More reviews by Stockton

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