Choose Your Own Adventure (1979-1998)
Choose Your Own Adventure (2005-) — no. 36
Punishment: Earth (reissue)
Exiled to Earth (Graded Reader) (Gamebook)
Montgomery, R. A.
(ChooseCo reissue edition - interior)
Utomo, Gabhor (ChooseCo reissue edition - cover)
Lisi, Victoria (Original edition - cover)
Bolle, Frank (Original edition - interior)
1988 (Original edition)
2010 (ChooseCo reissue edition)
1933390360 / 9781933390369
(ChooseCo reissue edition)
113 pages (ChooseCo reissue edition)
|Number of Endings:||
|User Summary:||You are a young resident of planet Orca, an advanced and peaceful world where youth is rare; you soon learn the consequences of excessive curiosity.|
This review is based on the ChooseCo reissue of the book; I don't currently have the original version of the book in my collection, so I can't compare what has changed, though I suspect that the differences are minor.
I can't say that this book particularly impressed me; it doesn't seem to have a lot of substance to it. It lost my interest almost immediately, when the best threat the author could come up with in a mysterious alien jungle was a group of warthogs. Warthogs?! I mean, they are potentially dangerous animals, but as random, sudden threats go, I would have preferred something a little more exotic. Throughout, the book comes up short on interesting details; while the reader can end up in a lot of different places, many of the encounters feel similar to one another, and there is very little world-building and even less character development.
Speaking of character, the book distinguishes itself a little bit through the constant presence of the protagonist's friend, Og. While other books in the series have had companion characters, few of them have stuck to the reader quite like Og does here, who is a constant presence throughout the book. However, that doesn't mean that Og has much in the way of personality -- he's mostly there to blandly agree, provide exposition, and on a few rare occasions have an opinion or talent of his own.
From a gameplay perspective, the book is fairly unsatisfying. Like many books from this period in the series, it features a lot of unnecessary page turning without decisions. It also features a design that loops back on itself in a few places, railroading the reader through the first act of the story and introducing occasional minor continuity errors. Some of the choices that allow access to different locations are random and arbitrary, while other choices that feel like they should be significant end up leading to exactly the same place. Many endings trail off without a satisfying conclusion, with even the "best" endings concluding on an ambiguous note of bland optimism without really accomplishing much in the way of story.
Speaking of bland optimism, this definitely feels like an R. A. Montgomery book, in that special way where you feel like you're being preached at, but you can't quite distinguish the message that you're supposed to be absorbing. There's obviously something being said here about curiosity, but how that links to the other broad message about peace, harmony and cooperation was unclear to me. Is it a political statement that a trip to Washington, D. C. leads to unavoidable death in a hail of bullets while a trip to China leads to peace if you just have enough faith? Probably, but it could also just be the infamous Montgomery randomizer at work.
The bottom line: there are a few interesting and unusual things going on in this book, but not enough to overcome its blandness and unambitious design. It's definitely not essential reading.
|Enigmatic Synergy's Thoughts:||
This is a decent CYOA book that makes for an interesting read. While the writing is certainly not the greatest, it is far from the worst. I absolutely love the concept of the book--traveling to a "strange" planet called Earth. I think these concepts are always pretty thought-provoking because the reader is able to look at humans as the "outsider," if you will, in which being an "alien" is the norm. Most of the outcomes are pretty similar, leaving little room for disparity. Some of the sections felt a little rushed and I think having some longer threads would have benefited the book. Overall, this is an average book that has the ability to provoke more-than-average thinking in terms of who we are as a society and how we may think of beings that are perceived as "outsiders" or "foreigners."
(Review based on the ChooseCo edition.)
This book reminds me a lot of an early R. A. Montgomery gamebook, The Abominable Snowman. Like in that book, the plot here is "ignorant Western humans encounter enlightened civilization of strange creatures for the first time," except that this time the reader plays one of the strange creatures instead of the humans, and the creatures are aliens instead of yeti. An encounter between aliens and humans from the point of view of the aliens has great potential, since the resulting culture shock offers many chances for interesting choices. Sadly, Montgomery shows he has no idea how to make this work, instead padding the book with undeveloped encounters and frustratingly abrupt endings. Also similar to The Abominable Snowman, there is little to no gameplay as the choices rarely do have any logical consequences. Still, The Abominable Snowman managed to be more interesting and entertaining than this dull, repetitive mess. Avoid this book.
While it has an interesting concept, this is a very weak book overall. For starters, you have to go through at least 12 pages of text before you come across any real choices. But that's not the biggest problem. The book lacks any real sense of purpose, and most of the outcomes are very similar. The author (R. A. Montgomery) spends too much time setting up the circumstances for your exile to Earth; this leaves little room for your adventures on Earth. The idea has potential, but it is executed poorly, and the book focuses on the wrong part of the journey.
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Known EditionsOriginal edition
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