I forgot how much I loved CYOA (Choose Your Own Adventure) books. I used to read them all the time as a kid and even got my kids hooked on them when they were younger. They seem to come and go in spurts of popularity—at least it seems so. They’re probably always out and we readers just seem to rediscover them every so many years. In an age before portable video games I used to stock up on CYOA books from the library before road trips and read until I went cross eyed.
Because these kinds of titles have a bit of nostalgia for me I was pretty thrilled when the authors of the Ultimate Ending CYOA series contacted me to do a review via my blog—I’ve always, in fact, thought it would be fun to write the kinds of books these guys are doing. Their series is perhaps a little more immersive than CYOA of old… there are a few puzzle solving mechanics at a few points in the books and so it has a special appeal for a modern audience which is used to a more interactive environment for their entertainment.
Danny McAleese and David Kristoph sent me four of their titles in exchange for reviews and I’m starting with The Tower of Never There. I spent a chunk of time reading and resisted the urge to leave a finger at different critical crossroads in order to backtrack. Nostalgia hit me pretty hard and I was chuckling out loud—partly from nervousness about my fate. The first time through I wanted to be as reckless as possible and always choose the worst options. It didn’t take long before I fell to my death, laughing the whole time. The second time I played it safe and made it home okay, though I didn’t learn much about the mystery. I went through again and almost made it to the top of the tower before getting gassed to death by my guide.
I went through a few times and haven’t yet made it to the Ultimate Ending—we’ll see if I ever make it. One thing I found really cool was the ability to go to their website and enter secret codes when/if you get the UE in order to unlock secret extras, trophies, and titles. Super cool idea.
There was certainly some interesting storytelling and things going on behind the scenes that someone who completes the entire story could unravel over time. Writing was good and it was certainly appropriate for a MG+ (middle grade) audience. I think readers of all ages would get a kick out of it and I certainly recommend it!
Also, sorry for the mix-up. I usually post reviews on Tuesdays and writing advice on Wednesdays… something must’ve got mixed up when I scheduled my posts to go live. Oops.