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Item - The Worst Day of Your Life

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Series: Choose Your Own Adventure (1979-1998) — no. 100
Author: Packard, Edward
Illustrators: Huerta, Catherine (cover)
Bolle, Frank (interior)
Date: 1990
Length: 116 pages
Number of Endings: 14
User Summary: As punishment for bad behaviour, your parents send you over to spend the summer working in your uncle's pig farm in Ohio, where misfortune awaits.
Guillermo's Thoughts:

As you probably suspect, in real-life Ohio there is no community called "Moo Mud". The author was clearly trying to set a gamebook in small-town America. This premise makes sense considering the wide audience of the Choose Your Own Adventure series at the time, but it's not that well executed.

While the cover might suggest that the book is just a collection of random unfortunate events, its premise is actually quite different from that. The story actually has a plot, even if it's a very simple one. It mostly involves dealing with crazy rural people, many of whom are specifically out to get you; I suppose readers from small-town backgrounds might find the portrayals presented here to be stereotypical and offensive. Moreover, I believe Edward Packard was at his best when he dabbled into genres such as science fiction, horror, or mystery; the later "real world" adventures he wrote for the CYOA series (such as this one) don't seem to work quite as well. To its credit, the book never feels boring, but the story isn't too interesting either, and subjecting the player character to a series of Biblical-style misfortunes does little to improve it.

As is the norm at this point in the series, the book is much wordier than earlier entries, but there are quite a few choices along some paths, which makes it feel reasonably interactive. Unfortunately, the traps the author uses to trick the reader into making bad choices tend to be predictable if you have read many previous CYOA entries, which made the gameplay feel rather unengaging to me. Overall, this is at best an average entry in the series. Don't go out of your way to read it.

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Stockton's Thoughts:

This book is really just for fun – it's not meant to be taken seriously. You ruin your neighbour's roof playing with a model rocket and have to spend the summer on your uncle Norbert's pig farm in Moo Mud, Ohio earning money to pay for the repairs.

Though the title would suggest otherwise, the plot of this book actually makes some sense. Not a spectacular amount of sense, but enough to keep it from going off the rails. Definitely worth reading.

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