Sunday, April 22, 2012

Romance Stories by Christina T. Crooks

Title: Romance Stories - An Interactive Fiction Collection
Author: Christina T. Crooks
Genre/Subgenre: Romance/Gamebook
Word count: Approx. 50 pages
Publication Date: 10/2011
Publisher: Self (October 2011)
Available: $1.49 at Amazon
Format available: .mobi or .epub
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewer: Elle Hill

According to the author, “Be the star of six fun and twisted little romance stories. Explore the playfulness, action, and sudden mortal danger of these adventures with built-in hyperlinks where you choose the direction the stories take. Thirty-five possible endings, but only a few will be a happily ever after. Can you find them?”

The good:
I read this gamebook on an otherwise-miserable airplane trip. It made me giggle several times, particularly as I tried to get inside the author’s head and figure out which choices would lead me to the promised happily-ever-afters with the story’s Hunky Guy™. Of course, this said, I felt it was my choice to explore every single option, which meant I alternately died tragically, lived a life of ennui, and found my soul mate, all in one very short story.

These amusing and well-written stories vary from post-apocalyptic science fiction to uncomfortably realistic romance. The one thing they all have in common is a shero written in the second person (“you” are the lead character). Every few pages – sometimes every few paragraphs or even sentences – the reader faces the option of how to respond to certain circumstance. This very fast-paced book defies readers’ attentions to stray.

The “bad”:
In a world saturated by reality TV and omnipresent, slick visual media imagery, we’ve become a culture of citizens with tiny attention spans and a lust for ever-new stimulations. This gamebook fits perfectly into this perceptual noise. It works beautifully as a text of its kind – as I said, it is quite well-written – but in terms of stories, the scenes are too short and too frequently interrupted to provide any kind of compelling, relatable narrative.

In sum:
Reading this book, I kept thinking this method of narrative delivery is perfect for folks with ADD; it is choppy, fragmented, and relies on clichés to provide structure and storyline. In short, if you’re looking for symbolism and multi-dimensional characters, read Jane Eyre; for a well-written, light-hearted distraction from the annoyances of flying or watching your kid’s Little League game, this gamebook may well be your next best friend.

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