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April 8, 2010 - Deb Gau
It’s library book sale time again, which means once again I will be scouring the shelves in search of Choose Your Own Adventure books. You may remember those; they’re a series of children’s books in which you “choose” what happens next in the story by flipping to different pages. There were more than a hundred different books published in the series, and most of them are kind of far-fetched, simply because they’re putting your character, a kid, into situations where he/she is a superspy or a professional sports hero, things like that. But then there are the titles that are so out-there, so fantastically absurd, that they skip straight past being pulpy or bad and go to “so bad, they’re hilarious.” I try to collect those. Some of my best finds of the past few years include:

“Ninja Cyborg” — Best. Concept. Ever. This book doesn’t skimp on the action. The whole thing basically starts out right away with, “You are training at your friend’s martial arts dojo in Japan when suddenly you are attacked by ninja cyborgs. What do you do?” And then the options down at the bottom of the page are pretty much either, “Run away,” or “Do a flying front kick.” Aww, yeah.

“Space Vampires” — You are an improbably young member of a spaceship crew, and you are attacked by a spaceship full of vampires. Space vampires, that is.

“Vampire Express” — You are on a train in the Old West, and you are attacked by vampires. Sensing a pattern?

“Terror On the Titanic” — The one Choose Your Own Adventure book in which you are guaranteed not to survive the adventure.

And finally, “Secret Of Mystery Hill” — I actually remember this one from when I was a kid. It features an apparently factual stone circle in New England, that somehow sends your character back in time to the fall of King Arthur’s court. (Or just back to a really politically incorrect human sacrifice scene, depending on the choice you make.) That’s the kind of weirdness that just can’t be easily forgotten.


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