Murder in the Family (Graded Reader) (Gamebook)
|User Summary:||You're an orphan living with a mysterious uncle. One day your uncle is kidnapped, and you must solve the mystery behind his disappearance.|
(Review based on the ChooseCo edition.)
By the time R.A. Montgomery first wrote this horror/mystery book, he had become a much more engaging writer than was the case in his early works. This means that the relatively long stretches of text between choices do not feel tedious for the most part (though one wonders why there is so much page-hopping when many of the pages have plenty of white space). Despite the good writing on display, as an interactive experience this is almost worthless. The long sections of text mean that none of the paths through the book involve more than a few choices (which seems to be the common feature of Montgomery's later works). Also, each of the branching paths tells a completely different story. As I have said many times before, I'm not against gamebooks with a wide variation of plots, but this is far from being one of the best examples of what this type of book can accomplish. There doesn't seem to be any logical relationship between the choices and their outcomes, meaning that the reader never feels involved in the experience. Also, almost every single one of the endings is deliberately vague about the mystery regarding your uncle's disappearance, meaning that most of time there is no real resolution to the story. Montgomery was apparently trying to accomplish an interactive version of The Twilight Zone TV series, but he clearly did not have the talent to create something quite as good. In fact, this book is not unlike The Lost Jewels of Nabooti, in that it feels like a mishmash of widely disparate ideas that do not work together to create an interesting whole. Despite being one of the pioneers of interactive fiction, the author seems to have never really learned the trade of gamebook creation. Overall, this is definitely an entry you can avoid without contrition. If you want to read a book with a similar design done right, I recommend instead Escape from the Haunted Warehouse by R. A.'s son Anson Montgomery, which is much more successful in achieving its goals.
|Special Thanks:||Thanks to Ken G. for the reissue cover scans.|
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