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Item - The Suicide King

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Series: Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Stake Your Destiny — no. 1
Author: Levy, Robert Joseph
Date: March, 2005
ISBN: 0689869576 / 9780689869570
Length: 160 pages
Number of Endings: 13
User Summary: Sunnydale is plagued by an unprecedented series of suicides; obviously, more than normal depression is to blame....
Demian's Thoughts:

I'm not exactly a fanatical Buffy fan, but I did watch and enjoy quite a few episodes before losing interest somewhere in the middle of season three. Interestingly, though this book was written several years after I stopped watching, it takes place early in the series, while Buffy is still in high school and before at least one major character was killed off. I'm not sure why it was decided to set the story so far back, but I can't complain, since I had no trouble figuring out what was going on.

As a gamebook, this is a fairly well-constructed effort. Plot consistency is good, with the same basic story unfolding and resolving in different ways depending on the choices made by the reader. Most of the choices are meaningful, and even though multiple choices sometimes converge back to the same places, this is done intelligently and doesn't feel like a waste of pages. There are far more negative endings than positive ones, so it's unlikely the story will be successfully resolved on the first read-through, and there's a certain feeling of satisfaction once it finally is.

That being said, I wasn't too impressed by the book as a whole. It's entirely adequate, but nothing more. The game design is solid, but the underlying story isn't particularly inspired. The writing is fairly true to the series, yet dialogue that might have been snappy on screen generally falls flat on the printed page. The humor occasionally reaches the level of mildly amusing, but it's more frequently cringe-inducing, especially given the subject matter.

The bottom line is that there's really not much wrong with this book, but there's not quite enough right with it to really grab my attention. I'd certainly give the author another chance, though -- he clearly knows how to work with the interactive medium; he just needs a slightly better story to apply this knowledge to.

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