WCS Ultimate Adventure: Mars! (Worst-Case Scenario Ultimate Adventure) by David Borgenicht

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WCS Ultimate Adventure: Mars! (Worst-Case Scenario Ultimate Adventure) by David Borgenicht

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: You're put into the mind of a young astronaut in this gamebook, trying to thrive and survive on the Red Planet.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 208 Date: September 2011
Publisher: Chronicle Books
ISBN: 9780811871242

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How many endings do you prefer your books to have? This claims 24, is the reason I ask. I can't be sure that the original Fighting Fantasy books of old didn't have a lot more, as well as the combat process, but in this style of choose-your-own-adventure franchise, two dozen isn't too bad at all. It's a younger-styled decision-making read, for the under-thirteens, and follows Borgenicht's seeming lifelong plan to get all sorts of survival info, either vital or trivial, into as many books as possible.

Here you start as one of a handful of people on a mission to a burgeoning Mars colony. It's not many pages into the flight before you have to make the first of the crucial, either/or decisions involved in getting through the mission the most successful way - to get to the end there are thirteen to get correct. I know because I had to create a spidergram to save time while reviewing. I also know because I 'died' twelve times on my route to the end, and had in fact covered well over 80% of the book before checking all pages were turned in my diligence for this critique.

In fact that first decision is one of the more important ones, for one leads - eventually - to a large dead end. The endings aren't all fatal - you might get electrocuted, blown up, or run out of air in your spacesuit, but you might just as easily end in ignominy through injury, silliness or having spent all your months on Mars making bricks for the new buildings. Between the opening and then there is one decision whose two story strands are so close together in the book you can see one is a dead end, the other isn't, one decision which is quite difficult but cheats a little as the two outcomes have different truths to them, and one decision that seems to be just a left or right coin-toss.

Except... At the back there is a handy dossier of info on Mars, the expectations of an astronaut working there, and some typical Borgenicht survival facts. I skipped this, in trying to 'play' the book on a level playing field with the much younger target audience. It does turn out to be quite a complete crib sheet, and many of the plot divisions are solved there.

So it's not perfect as an adventure - some spidery sections of the schema are faulty as I say, and the real, winning story is quite short when all is said and done. The usual real-life helpful data are stretching the terms of real-life, for one, as nobody reading this will ever get to Mars if the space science professor I met during reading this is correct. But the real point of this is that the second person narrative, and the decision making, are designed to put you in the eyes of a proper, tested, spaceman. And while many alternative ways of doing that are available in the realm of (regularly, quite violent) computer games, this is a much more humble, safe and simplified diversion. The option whether to buy this or not is a lot less trivial than those in the plot.

I must thank the publishers for my review copy.

A younger audience can have a similar thrill with You Are The First Kid On Mars by Patrick O'Brien. There are now three titles in the series including George's Cosmic Treasure Hunt by Lucy Hawking and Stephen Hawking which offer good looks at the world of science in an entertaining novel format.

Buy WCS Ultimate Adventure: Mars! (Worst-Case Scenario Ultimate Adventure) by David Borgenicht at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy WCS Ultimate Adventure: Mars! (Worst-Case Scenario Ultimate Adventure) by David Borgenicht at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy WCS Ultimate Adventure: Mars! (Worst-Case Scenario Ultimate Adventure) by David Borgenicht at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy WCS Ultimate Adventure: Mars! (Worst-Case Scenario Ultimate Adventure) by David Borgenicht at Amazon.com.


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