10 Memorable ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ Books
Being published through the 80s and early 90s, anyone growing up in those decades have fond memories of the Choose Your Own Adventure stories. Not only were they a neat concept but they had such a massive range of titles you could find something fresh and exciting to get into, even without the re-readability of the multiple endings. On 9th November this year the original publisher and one of the main authors, R.A. Montgomery, passed away aged 78. With some 250 books available in the original series this is not a definitive list of the best 10, but 10 that I remember fondly.
You Are a Millionaire
Not considered one of the best in the series, it was unique for it’s more realistic take on the concept. While playing baseball with your friends you stumble across a satchel bag hidden in the bushes. Opening it up you find bundles of cash. Now you must decide what you’re going to do with it. Although well paced the lack of fantasy elements that made the other books popular, but it gives you something to think about.
This one gets widely discussed to this day due to it’s controversial false ending. As the presence of Easter Island heads and bizarre looking aliens on the front cover suggest this is quite a surreal tale. You begin as a passenger on the Concorde jet when you are suddenly teleported onto a UFO. The aliens explain that they are searching the universe for a legendary paradise planet. Unlike many books in the series you don’t drive the story but take on more of a passenger role, taking place in something akin to a hallucination. Readers having trouble finding the Paradise Planet ending may have been left wanting, as it never happens. If you flicked through the book you’d notice a page that does detail this ending, along with an illustration, but it was a bluff – there was no part of the story that let you get there.
Your Code Name is Jonah aka Spy Trap
One of the very first books to be released it cast the reader as a young spy tasked with a secret mission. This makes the list for being unmistakably a product of the 1980s. You must infiltrate the KGB in order to retrieve a stolen tape of whale song. Yep. There are reasons for this, which is the mystery driving the story.
The Race Forever
STAY BACK, IT’S A TRAP. Do not start reading this book, you will never stop. There are two races to choose from and rather than reaching a conclusion, the multiple endings all wind up with you beginning the alternative race. If you keep reading you just get stuck in an endless story loop!
Outlaws of Sherwood Forest
During a summer vacation you find a fairy ring that promptly transport you back to Ye Olde England, because of course it does, and you find yourself caught up in an adventure with none other than Robin Hood. Any story where you team up with Robin Hood is going to be a winner in my world, and this one lifts it’s game with some wry humour.
Who Killed Harlowe Thromberry?
One of the most popular and early books in the series, it’s easy to see why this is popular. It draws on many classic murder mystery cliches – millionaires, mansions and suspects everywhere. It’s like being in an Agatha Christie story (but not as well written).
Secret of the Ninja
Ninjas were the most awesome thing in the universe during the 80s. Between the ninjas in G.I. Joe and some turtles were had been conditioned to view everything ninja related as brilliant, so there was a waiting list to get this book from the school library. It was the first of several CYOA novels to work in a martial arts theme, and the best.
There weren’t many Western themed period stories in the series, and there weren’t many that offered such an open ended range of options. Those factors combined make this a notable entry. Being able to take on a multitude of jobs and activities around the town of Deadwood make this a book with more reading options.
You Are An Alien
One of many ‘You are a Blank’ set ups the CYOA series utilised with increased frequency, it’s one that gives you the most consistent and relatable story. Having discovered that you are, in fact, an alien you can leave the planet to be with your people or stay of Earth to make the most of your alien powers. It’s a great ‘what-if’ scenario that’s worth a couple of reads.
Mystery of Chimney Rock
While most CYOA books were clearly written with the younger readers in mind – casting them as spies, ninjas, detectives and the like – this one seems set to cast you in an Edgar Allen Poe story. While helping your grandmother during the winter you end up in an old house occupied by the cat of the deceased. With the setting confined to a singular haunted house you have a genuine sense of danger and claustrophobia. A great, atmospheric game book.
So that’s my list. And because SOMEONE is going to bring it up in the comments, there’s this: