The dilemma of Choose-Your-Own-Adventure books
I recently told a family member about Choose-Your-Own-Adventure books. I enjoyed these as a tween and thought I'd pick up one at the library for us to read as a group. Curled up under a blanket in front of my fireplace, I read the first few pages, which set up the adventure’s premise: “You” are in Guyana with your uncle, a best-selling author, to explore an alleged ship that sank during World War II with trillions of dollars-worth of treasure on board. However, rumors abound that anyone who gets too close to this sunken ship's coordinates becomes discombobulated in a mysterious purple mist. Upon arriving at Cheddi Jagan International Airport in Georgetown, you and your uncle are approached by a man claiming to be your driver. Your uncle is confused because he didn’t arrange for a ride, and he kept your trip here under wraps. This man, however, knows your uncle’s name, his profession, and that he is in Guyana exploring the treasure. He insists you both come with him. Meanwhile, a young boy approaches, overhearing the conversation. He whispers that if you’re really exploring the treasure ship, you should come with him, because he knows someone who has information about it. This is where the reader is presented with the first options regarding how this story will unfold. Option 1: Go with the driver. Option 2: Go with the boy. And that’s it. No third option, like being mindful of your vulnerable status as a traveler abroad and finding your own ride to the Princess Hotel. In order for the adventure to continue, you MUST choose either option 1 or 2. This led to a larger discussion about the philosophical implications of these choices and forcing the reader into them. But then, we wondered if this is intentional. Are there some adventures that can only begin with questionable choices? We haven't yet decided. But we did ultimately choose to go with the little boy.