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Item - Monsters of the Deep

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Series: Choose Your Own Adventure - Dragonlarks — no. 13
Author: Montgomery, R. A.
ISBN: 1933390379 / 9781933390376
Length: 64 pages
Number of Endings: 8
KenJenningsJeopardy74's Thoughts:

Could Monsters of the Deep be a junior companion book to Journey Under the Sea, R. A. Montgomery's original entry (second overall) in the Bantam Choose Your Own Adventure series? It would appear so. In that book, you are a deep-sea diver bent on discovering the lost continent of Atlantis, and you're willing to take almost any risk if it means reaching your goal. If you're smart and lucky enough, you do find Atlantis, proving the existence of a civilization most people had dismissed as fanciful legend. In Monsters of the Deep, you haven't yet made any sea dives, deep or otherwise, but your older brother and sister are among the most famous explorers of the ocean ever, having discovered Atlantis. Are you, then, a younger sibling to your own character from Journey Under the Sea? I think it's safe to infer that, which is a nice added touch of subtle continuity for fans of Journey Under the Sea, either in its original Bantam edition or the Chooseco reissue.

Prepare yourself to travel fifteen feet beneath the ocean's surface. You have everything you'll need for the trip, but when you steel yourself to make the plunge, you notice troubling dark clouds drifting toward you over the water. A storm could be on the way, and that wouldn't be good for your dive. You also spot your friends Avery and Lila approaching along the beach, and you know they would be interested in joining your sea trek. But whether you avoid the impending lightning storm or not, invite your friends to join the underwater expedition or choose to head down on your own, it's difficult to get away from exploring the water at least a little. After all, the title of the book is Monsters of the Deep. You'll find that ocean life isn't at all what you dreamed it to be. Whales and ghost crabs and barracudas abound, and all of them speak in a language you can understand, and are interested in guiding your tour of the undersea world. The deep, deep ocean may seem scary to most humans, and understandably so, but you don't have to be scared with so many aquatic friends at your service. Your older siblings probably never had so much help on their search for Atlantis!

Your maritime adventures range from out-and-out silly to mildly exciting, though to me, the greatest danger you'll face isn't in the sea, but when lightning bolts are raining down around you on the beach, threatening to end your life and the lives of your friends in an instantaneous burst of crackling carbon. That lightning storm is scary, and comes upon you so quickly. You're probably safer entering the water and hoping for the best. You can cavort with mermaids, smelt, tuna, octopuses, jellyfish, and lots of fish whose very existence is absurd to you (yes, I'm thinking of the ones shaped like bears, butterflies, eggplants, and jack-o'-lanterns), and if you stray too far below the surface, where the light fun of a youngster's exploration of the shallow depths ends and the menace of bizarre deep-water life begins, you'll have friends to abort your mission for you and bring you back to the surface, without even catching a glimpse of the frightening creatures you almost confronted. Perhaps it's better this way, for now...until you grow older and are ready for the full risk of ocean dives. But what was down there?

"Fear lurks in dark corners, corners that can surprise you."

--Monsters of the Deep, P. 43

There are continuity problems that should be acknowledged in any in-depth review of this book, pending potential correction in future editions. Florence the ghost crab's departure is briefly mentioned in one storyline during which you haven't met her and never will. Another time, the "shadow from before" is brought up, but the "before" is from an entirely different narrative branch, which could be confusing for readers. However, I had a better time with Monsters of the Deep than I expected. The story has its moments, especially if your decisions lead you into the lightning storm, or to confront your fears and face the source of the underwater shadows that scare most of the smaller marine life around you. After all, if you're ready to make solo dives in the ocean, haven't you already decided to face your fears? Monsters of the Deep has some thoughtful words on the subject, and they apply in real life just as well as when you are a fictional undersea adventurer: "(I)sn't this the time to stand up, to be counted? To confront your fears? To banish the shadow once and for all? After all, how scary could it really be? Small things can make big shadows." That's the important knot to untangle in dealing with most fears, the truth that "Small things can make big shadows." Our fears are usually much larger in our minds than they ever become in reality. For its low-key philosophical merit, I have to say I liked Monsters of the Deep, though the continuity errors prevent me from considering it a favorite R. A. Montgomery work. I had fun with it, though, and I'm sure other readers can say the same.

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Special Thanks:Thanks to KenJenningsJeopardy74 for the images that were previously used here (before being replaced by images of a better-condition copy).
Users Who Own This Item: Ardennes, Demian (first printing), KenJenningsJeopardy74
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