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Choose Your Own Adventure (1979-1998)
Ningen bakudan Demitoriusu [人間爆弾デミトリウス] (Japanese)
Öldüren gölge (Turkish)
L'ombra mortal (Catalan)
Sombra mortal (Spanish)
La sombra mortal (Spanish)
July, 1985 (First printing)
0553249916 / 9780553249910
0553254987 / 9780553254983 (Later printing)
118 pages |
|Number of Endings:||
|User Summary:||As an agent for the Special Security Agency, you must track down a man named Dimitrius, who has become dangerous and powerful as the result of Russian experiments.|
Like most espionage stories involving the Russians, this book has become rather dated. This, combined with my general disinterest in the genre and the fairly unexciting writing style of the book, prevented me from enjoying this adventure too much. Still, it has some positive points. During the story, you can travel to a variety of famous locations all over the world, and most of these trips are quite eventful. In most books, I'd complain that this shows a poor sense of continuity (after all, the bad guys can't be everywhere at once), but in this book, a convenient plot device makes all of the outcomes plausible without breaking continuity. Additionally, the book does feature some decent action sequences, and on at least one occasion, it does a good job of making the adventure longer by allowing multiple paths to lead to the same point in the story. In all, an average book; not brilliant, but not bad either.
A good spy story never outlives its appeal, and that's what we have here: a pretty good gamebook of the spy sub-genre, penned by an author as familiar with the interactive format as almost anyone. You are a top government operative of the Special Security Agency, fresh off a case that took all your celebrated powers to solve, when an urgent message from Washington, D.C. interrupts your mandated vacation. The newest threat to world security is dire, and could manifest itself on multiple levels simultaneously. Classified experimentation into the science of creating an immortal human has turned a relatively ordinary man named Dimitrius into a walking atom bomb, but his explosiveness is just the start of the perils Dimitrius's status as a free man poses to the world. Preliminary intelligence reports indicate Dimitrius may also have the ability to travel through time, and go invisible to the naked eye at will. Firsthand accounts from SSA agents and independent security personnel unlucky enough to encounter Dimitrius strongly suggest the atomic man's shadow is as lethal in close quarters as his body could be to thousands of civilians if he detonates, and you have been assigned to corral him. Your instructions are clear: You are to apprehend Dimitrius or persuade him to come with you for questioning by the United States government before any number of international unsavories get their hands on him. The Chinese mafia, criminals of the Paris underworld, Mexican gangsters, and Russian spies all want to capture Dimitrius so they can find out what makes him tick (almost literally), and it's up to you to ride above the clamor and take him into protective custody before another government can. If Dimitrius falls into the possession of a nation hostile to U.S. interests, it could be game over for the land that you love. More than any mission you've undertaken previously, you must come through now.
There are several options as to how and where you should go undercover, and these initial choices will mostly define your adventure. Elect to pose as a sophisticated, wealthy art dealer in Paris and you'll rub elbows with the upper crust of French culture; that is, if you manage to rendezvous with your SSA contact in the city before Parisian underworlders slit your throat. You know Dimitrius has been tied to a dozen or more major art thefts since the alert about him was issued, but even if you can spring a trap for the world's most wanted man without causing him to blow up, do you have any realistic chance of getting him to comply with your orders? Maybe you do, if you're clever enough to counteract his biological strengths and turn them into weaknesses. Racing through quaint cafés and other hot spots of Paris nightlife with enemy agents on your tail, ducking into dark wine cellars and outrunning your pursuers through the city's elaborate sewer system as the threat of a bullet in the back looms large, are some of the most atmospheric, memorable action scenes of this book, and Paris is the place to find them. You could also choose to peddle art in Mexico City, where a hijacked plane and further terror at 20,000 feet are only the gateway to thrilling adventure in the wilds as you face off against man and beast. Dimitrius could be anywhere on earth since he supposedly travels through time, so don't despair that if you choose to go undercover in the wrong city your opportunity to catch him will be forfeited. There's a chance to fulfill your mission wherever you go, though sometimes it's an absurdly small chance.
Instead of pretending to be an art dealer, you can set up shop as a slick professional gambler in Hong Kong or Rio de Janeiro, and either location promises intrigue for as long as you can survive to keep getting in and out of scrapes with international baddies. Dimitrius has been traced to illegal betting operations around the globe, presumably because his time travel capability lets him see the result of any contest and then travel back and wager on it prior to the fact, and Hong Kong and Brazil have been figured to be the most likely points of contact. Dimitrius may be a fugitive from practically every jurisdiction on the planet, but you don't know much about the man, and you won't find out anything until you can talk to him yourself. Is he a villain at heart, or an innocent bystander who fell victim to a science project gone wrong? If you can reason with Dimitrius and convince him his best bet to stay alive and not risk causing devastating harm to the world is to come with you and see if the U.S. government can help him, your improbable mission could turn out positively after all. But can you rescue yourself and your homeland from Dimitrius before time runs out and the human bomb explodes?
The Deadly Shadow is one of the hardest Choose Your Own Adventure books to successfully complete, offering only a few endings that could reasonably be deemed positive, and most of them only partially. You will be blown to molten smithereens more often than you'll find a path to triumph, and that can feel stymying when you've proceeded through the narrative in cautious, thoughtful fashion. When you're dealing with the underworld you have to make snap judgments about trusting people you've just met, and the most well-trained agent can't read a stranger accurately every time. If you survive your adventure, then trust me, you reached a good ending, even if it isn't everything you wished. There are some exciting bad endings, too, such as when you stumble upon the vacated pathway of a colony of army ants who have already alarmingly demonstrated the extent of the damage they can inflict. Let's just say, some death endings are more gruesome than others. There are a couple of silly endings, too, that can be a tad confusing, but on the whole, The Deadly Shadow is a fun book that revels well in its own atmosphere, and I enjoyed the reading experience. I would take it off the shelf and plunge back into with a friend anytime.
While I felt the the premise and core storyline were intriguing and well-written, this book stands out to me as one of the worst in the series. There is only one truly and completely "successful" ending. The few "good" endings allow you to survive, but at the cost of failing your mission. It was enjoyable to read and explore the book, but extremely disappointing when it comes to the available endings.
As a side note, there was an episode of X-Files called "Soft Light" which later used the very same idea.
|Waluigi Freak 99's Thoughts:||
This book has a few truly satisfying endings, but a multitude of death endings abound. This, however, just made the book all the more interesting. The death endings are varied and interesting to read. The adventure in itself is nicely pulled off, and everything here just seems to click into place. Good read.
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|Users with Extra Copies:||
Demian - 1st printing; top right corner of front cover torn off
exaquint - 1st
Known EditionsFirst printing
Choose Your Own Adventure / Weetabix Ad #2
from Eagle comic, June 29, 1985. Thanks to Ed Jolley for the scan.