About a year ago, Marshmallow reviewed a “choose your own adventure” (CYOA) book: The Sorcerer’s Maze Collection by Blair Polly and DM Potter. Today she shares her thoughts on a 2010 graphic novel, written in a similar manner: Meanwhile: Pick Any Path. 3,856 Story Possibilities, by Jason Shiga.
Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you like Choose Your Own Adventure (CYOA) books, then this might be the book for you.
Marshmallow’s Summary: Jimmy’s adventures start with a simple ice cream flavor choice: vanilla or chocolate. One of the two options leads to a short story, and the other leads to an exciting one. Depending on your choices, you end up in different places.
In one path, you come to a place called Kepler Labs, in which your character, Jimmy, asks to go to the bathroom. Then Professor K. asks you (Jimmy) which of his inventions you want to play with. It is your choice and the decision you make can change the story.
Any choice that you make leads you to a different possibility. One possibility is that you make it home safe and sound. Another is that you end up destroying the world unwillingly. How the story unfolds depends on what path you choose. In the beginning of the book, there is a warning:
“Instead of one story, Meanwhile splits off into thousands of different adventures. Most will lead to DOOM and DISASTER. Only one path will lead to happiness and success.”
Marshmallow’s Review: This an interesting, different type of Choose Your Own Adventure (CYOA) book because it is written like a graphic novel. Instead of being labeled by page numbers at the bottom of each page, you are led by a line that takes you from the frame that you are looking at. If the line splits into two, then you are being given the chance to choose. If it leads on the page and onto a flap, then you flip to the flap and continue.
Because of how it functions differently from other books of its kind, reading Meanwhile can be a little bit confusing at the beginning, but once you get used to things, moving around in the book gets easier.
Meanwhile is like a game because there are many different solutions (on the title page it says there are 3,856 possibilities–I didn’t count them all). It is fun and gives the reader a chance to change the story unlike other books, especially when the character is making a bad choice and you want to tell them to stop. This is very interesting because when the character makes a bad choice (or you do), then you can go back and fix it. I think that doing that is very fun.
Once you have tried a lot of the possibilities, you can decide to choose only the ones that you liked or try to find the one happy and successful path.
Marshmallow’s Rating: 95%.