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Choose Your Own Adventure (1979-1998)
(pseudonym used by Montavon, Jay)
Marchesi, Stephen (interior)
First off, this book has a pretty original plot and some excellent writing. You are an exchange student studying holistic medicine in the USSR. Your friend Ilya has invited you to a seance where a mystic will try to contact the spirit of Rasputin. Things quickly go wrong from there.
This book has too many good endings – there's no challenge involved in being successful. It also has lots of page flipping between choices. I also find it hard to believe that a character who can barely read menus in 1980s Leningrad could speak enough Russian to survive in 1916.
On the whole, the story starts off very well. But as one moves through the book, it becomes less and less like a story and more like a dreary, plodding ethnographic on 1916 Russia. Events, too, quickly become random. If there was ever a book with 'squandered potential' written all over it, this is the one.
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