Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Happy Book Birthday, Escape from a Video Game: Mystery on the Starship Crusader by Dustin Brady !

Today's read surprisingly...and I really do mean that I didn't expect this would happen...hit my possible favorite reads of 2021 list. I have read the first book in the series, but this one was even better than the first and left me wanting more. I'll admit, I was a fan of Choose-Your-Own-Adventure reads as a kid (which is strange if you knew my very heavy reading favorites at the time). I think it was because these tales allow the reader to explore what happens on their own and lighten things up for a bit.

Anywho, this one caught me off guard and had me caught up completely. Add the amazing quirky humor and extra puzzles...and yeah. Kids are going to love this one.

by Dustin Brady
Andrews McMeel Publishing
Middle Grade Mystery/ Choose Your Own Adventure
192 pages
ages 8 to 12

Young gamers control the action in this interactive series from the bestselling author of Trapped in a Video Game. With more than 30 endings and an unlockable bonus adventure, this second book in the series promises hours of screen-free fun.

This is one book that will super-power the interest of any "I'd rather be gaming" kid.  In this pick-your-path adventure, you join eight strangers inside a video game for a chance to win a million dollars. The challenge is simple: survive to the end, and you're rich. There's just one problem: A traitor is hiding among your group. One-by-one, crew members of the spaceship start disappearing. Can you "suss" out the traitor before it's too late? This whodunnit space adventure is perfect for fans of Among Us.

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                                            * choose your own adventure style
                                            * video-game in a book setting
                                            * science fiction and mystery
                                            * tons of humor with adventure
                                            * adds visual puzzles and more to usual page turning


This one is going onto my favorite middle grade reads for 2021 list, which might be surprising (was for me, too). But this is the type of book I would have devoured as a kid and would have wished for this one even as a birthday present. 

This is the second book in the series but, by no means, does the other book need to be read first. Although it does hint at book one very, very briefly in the first pages, no knowledge of any kind is needed before diving into this one and joining in on the adventure.

As is typical with the choose your own adventure style, you (the reader) are the main character. You are dragged into a video game world on a starship named Crusader, meet a few other players, and need to find a treasure to escape. Along the way, you not only need to decide how you're going to react in order to continue to whatever page your adventure continues on (based on your decision), but there are puzzles to solve along the way, which go beyond the usual page-turning choices.

I was already smiling on the first page and immediately found myself grabbed in by the tale. It's not the adventure as much as it is the writing style. This one sets very firmly in the middle grade audience direction and incorporates mounds of fun, quirkiness, and ridiculous surprises. It's simply a high-tension, wonderfully humorous, and unexpected packed book. The choices aren't obvious and the outcome isn't easy to guess...and that makes it even more fun. 

But what also scores bonus points are the illustrations and puzzles worked into the tale. While the page-flipping is obviously a key attribute, it's these added riddles and searches, which really spruce things up, and add a whole new dimension. 

In other words, this is exactly the type of book even reluctant readers will enjoy picking up and exploring. It's not serious, adds the unexpected and is perfect for a summer read. Because it's simply plain fun.

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