Very few things cause a fluttering in my heart and paper cuts between my fingers like "Choose Your Own Adventure" books. I remember when I first discovered them in a local bookstore. My parents took us on a rare trip - it's dangerous to lead an addict straight to the object of their addictions - and they had given us a strict budget. Looking back, it was likely $5 because paperbacks have always been an affordable option. That would have gotten me 2 books back in the day! (It was the 80's for anyone curious.)
I perused the shelves, walked right past The Baby-sitter's Club (which would become a later obsession), selected a Girl Talk book called "The New You", and stood in front of the Choose Your Own Adventure display trying to make the impossible decision of which one would come home with me. I remember racking my brain to see if I could remember which ones were already available to me at the school and public libraries. I had to pick just. the. right. one.
So when an author contacted me with the subject line "Want to help revive a genre?" and it turned out to be a grown adult version of CYOA, I could not reply fast enough. "The Friar's Lantern" by Greg Hickey was everything I hoped it would be and more. He treats the readers like the adults we are but also takes great care to keep with the CYOA tropes we all know and love. I found myself going back, just as I did with the books as a child, to certain decisions and going the other direction to see what would have befallen my character. I was pleased with my fantastic original decision that lead to my character winning a million dollars. Within this fun format, some real issues are discussed: grief, power of the mind, murder, and ethics of psychological experiments to name a few.
I highly recommend this book for anyone missing the CYOA nostalgia in your life but finding the originals now a bit unsatisfying. Who knows? You may win a million dollars!