Saturday, February 8, 2014

To Be Or Not To Be: A Choosable Path Adventure

by Ryan North, William Shakespeare, and YOU

Grade: 5 stars
Story summary: Hamlet. As a Choose Your Own Adventure story. Enough said.

Thoughts: I gave this 5 stars not because it was so terribly brilliant, or the best book I'd ever read, but because it is perfectly suited to me. This is pretty much the book I wish I had written. I mean, it's Hamlet as a Choose Your Own Adventure story. I've always loved Choose Your Own Adventure stories, and this one is hilarious and meta and so thick and full of good stuff--I completely love it. I don't want to spoil too much, but there is so much awesome in this that I think I'm fairly safe. So as some examples: there is the ending where you get to turn into a gamma-irradiated monster (pg. 274), or the one where you're suddenly in Macbeth (pg. 260), or super awesome ones like the one where you get 50 billion decapoints for doing such a great job (pg. 719). And there are tons of somewhat normal ones, where you settle down with Ophelia or do projects that are good for the economy or murder the whole town. There's also a way where you can follow the actual story of Hamlet, the choices marked with Yorick skulls.

(I always do the first run through one of these books trying to choose exactly as I would as myself in real life. Through this method I (as Ophelia) helped Hamlet put Claudius in prison by working through the legal system. I got 100 out of 100 LEGAL JUSTICE POINTS, but only 3 ADVENTURE POINTS, because it was sort of a boring ending. (pg. 160))

If I had to have any criticism, it would be that Ryan North didn't always seem to have the best understanding of some of the themes and happenings of Hamlet. As one example, he didn't seem to understand why Hamlet didn't want to kill his uncle while his uncle was praying. Which I actually find a rather fascinating insight on how far Hamlet has gone by that point. But since the whole book was rather silly and completely for fun, these little issues really didn't bother me.

Also, coming back to the awesomeness: every single ending is fabulously illustrated by a different artist (many of whom I recognize from webcomics and such on the internet (e.g. Ethan Nicolle from Axe Cop!!!)). Here are two sample illustrations for your viewing pleasure, but there are many more awesome ones.

P.S. This is just for me, or for people that have already read the whole book, but I wanted to make note of some of my favourite parts and endings so I could reference them later if I wanted to (and not have to search the whole darn book). This will be encoded in rot13 to prevent spoilers, but you can translate if you want.

V ernyyl guvax gung zl snibhevgr raqvat jnf ct. 356, jurer Ubengvb tbg gb unir uvf bja fznyy nqiragher. V'ir nyjnlf unq n fbsg fcbg sbe Ubengvb, rira gubhtu ur qvqa'g ernyyl qb zhpu va gur cynl. Naq V gubhtug gur jubyr "Lbh or TERNG" ynfg yvar jnf dhvgr fjrrg. Gur raq ba ct. 379 jnf nyfb npghnyyl engure vafcvevat va n fvzvyne jnl.
Naq gura gurer jrer gur qbjaevtug uvynevbhf raqvatf...  V guvax V jvyy svaq gur cvpgher bs Unzyrg ynlvat ba gur sybbe orvat "pnfhny" va sebag bs gur fgnoorq phegnva crecrghnyyl shaal. (Cvpgher ba ct. 607, sebz gur raqvat ba ct. 26.) Fvzvyneyl gur raqvat ba ct. 75 jvgu gur cvpgher ba ct. 163 (gubhtu sbe fbzr ernfba V svaq gur cvpgher ba ct. 607 fyvtugyl shaavre). Gur raqvat jurer lbh qrpvqr gb qvgpu ernyvfz nygbtrgure (sbetrg gur cntr..., cvpgher ba ct. 197), gur bar jurer lbh nf Bcuryvn trg n ernyyl zhfpyrl nez ("Naq va gur raq...vfa'g gung gur zbfg jr nyy pna ubcr sbe?") (ct. 624), naq gur bar jurer, ybat fgbel fubeg, vg gheaf bhg xvyyvat Cbybavhf, phggvat uvz hc, fghssvat uvz vagb ontf, naq chggvat gur ontf vagb fgrj oevrsyl bayl gb erzbir gurz vf vyyrtny? (ct. 541)
Gurer jrer whfg fb znal njrfbzr raqvatf... gur bar jurer vg gheaf bhg lbh'er va gur Tubfgohfgref zbivr abj (ct. 233), be gur bar jurer lbh ohvyq n znpuvar gb perngr n arj gvzryvar (ct. 229) naq unir gb qb pbzcyvpngrq zngu gb raq hc ba guvf arj gvzryvar (ct. 158) jurer lbh zrrg gur bgure irefvba bs lbhefrys (naq trg n ybat n yvggyr gbbb jryy...). V guvax glvat sbe svefg jvgu gur Ubengvb raqvat zvtug or gur bar gung fcrpvsvpnyyl gryyf lbh vg'f na njrfbzr raqvat: ba ct. 268, lbh, nf gur tubfg bs Unzyrg, wbva sbeprf jvgu lbhe qrnq sngure va n uhtr tubfg-ba-tubfg jner sbe gur fheiviny bs gur nsgreyvsr. Lbh ner yrnqvat gur nezvrf bs uhznavgl'f terngrfg tubfg vagb onggyr, naq znxr n fhcre qenzngvp cer-onggyr fcrrpu. "Yrg'f qb guvf, Unzyrg," Senaxyva Q. Ebbfriryg fnlf, pbpxvat uvf fubgtha. Guvf vf na njrfbzr raqvat.
Naq bs pbhefr, gurer jrer cyragl bs njrfbzr ovgf fcevaxyrq guebhtubhg gur obbx, orsber lbh rira tbg gb na raqvat. V ybirq Bcuryvn naq Unzyrg'f ybat "Jnlf gb Zheqre n Xvat" yvfg (ct. 538), naq gur jubyr "Pubbfr Lbhe Bja Nqiragher" fgbel jvguva guvf "Pubbfr Lbhe Bja Nqiragher" fgbel, naq nyy gur ersreraprf gb bgure  aba-rkvfgrag "Pubbfr Lbhe Bja Nqiragher" fgbevrf (yvxr gur njrfbzryl zrgn qvfphffvba jvgu gur nhgube ba ct. 10),  be gur yvggyr ovg ba ct. 337 gung vg gheaf bhg lbh pna'g trg gb guebhtu nal cngu (orpnhfr vg jnf vafregrq guebhtu gur gvzr-fcnpr pbagvahhz ol gur Bzrtn Cebgbpby...ybat fgbel). Naq gura gurer jnf gur ubarfg-gb-tbbqarff genvavat zbagntr! (ct. 508) V ybbbir genvavat zbagntrf!!!

Maaaaan, this P.S. went on for a long time... Sorry... this book makes me very enthusiastic, even when I'm just making notes for myself in code so noone can read them.

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