Here at the Retroist we’ve talked about the Choose Your Own Adventure book series before and some of the knock-offs like the Endless Quest and Twistaplot books, but here’s a brand I had never seen until recently: the Find Your Fate adventure books, starring Indiana Jones.
When I saw this book for sale at a local book store for a buck, I couldn’t pass it up. Like most books of the genre, the goal of this one is to help Indiana find some treasure (the “Lost Treasure of Sheba”) and keep him alive in the process. In the book you are not Indiana but rather his young friend (probably an easier character for young readers to relate to).
The book is also filled with lots of illustrations.
“Don’t just sit there, Indy — the Lost Treasure of Sheba (c) awaits!”
(Not your friends.)
I read the book through a couple of different paths the other night. Although the writing was good, I didn’t think the adventure was particularly exciting. Then again that could be because I am no longer a member of the book’s younger target audience.
According to the Indiana Jones Wiki, there were seventeen Find Your Fate adventure books. Books 1-9 feature Indiana Jones, books 10-15 feature other protagonists (including James Bond), and books 16 and 17 again star Dr. Jones. Fans of the genre will not be surprised to learn that several of the books were written by R. L. Stine, who wrote several other Choose Your Own Adventure books for competing brands. Through Google I also discovered that there were several other lines of “Find Your Fate” books, including books for GI Joe, Jem and the Holograms, and the Transformers. Sounds like more things I will have to track down now.
As I was writing this article I just noticed something. In the book, your (and your father’s) last name is Ballentyne. The Find Your Fate books were published by Ballantine Books, a division of Random House. Coincidence?
This ad really takes me back too my geek roots. Starting in 1982 TSR released a series of Choose Your Own Adventure books called, Endless Quest books. These books were an Ogre’s height better then your average CYOA book in that they had better character development. You just weren’t Mr. Knight or Ms. Wizard. You were Harkden of the Capaloks or some junk like that. Dozens of these books were released in the 1980s and they made for fun geeky back seat fun when your family was stuck in traffic on the way to the Jersey Shore.
If you are a fan, you can either dig through my my musty boxes of books and find a few dogeared copies or head over to ebay and pick up a couple of these gems and free them from their Mylar prisons.
Everyone else is doing it, so why can’t I?
A couple of recent posts on Choose-Your-Own-Adventure books and their various progeny reminded me of my absolute favorite “brand” of these literary adventures: The Lone Wolf series.
Like similar books, the series placed the reader in the role of the titular character, the lone survivor of an order of warrior monks whose homeland was being invaded by the nefarious Darklords and their various minions. Where the franchise differed a bit from many contemporaries was in its play mechanics. While it had the standard “make a choice, turn to page XX” format, it also mixed in some simple, single-player pen-and-paper role playing game rules.
The reader/player would pick skills to learn, equipment to wield, and magic spells to cast. You had a certain number of hit points and will power. When an enemy was encountered, you’d usually be given a choice to fight, or attempt to use some skill to avoid or enchant them. The outcome of these contests depended on what attributes the player had and what random number was picked from a table in the back of the book. You could acquire better weapons and armor throughout your quests, too. Halfway through the series, the player would even “level up,” becoming much more powerful.
I think what I loved most about this series was its scope and the world-building the authors did. They went Tolkien -lite, creating a whole mythology and history for a huge game world, only a fraction of which the reader would visit. Outside of the core series, there was a spin-off of four volumes that revolved around a wizard that took place far from the “main” story, and some novels that I unfortunately never got to read.
If you want to check out the series, it’s fortunately (and legally) available in it’s entirety online, along with much of the spin-off material. I highly recommend it.
Is your life filled with crazy coincidences? Sometimes I feel like my life is one big crazy sitcom episode!
Case in point — last week I read Doug’s awesome post about Choose Your Own Adventure Books. Back in the day I owned a dozen or so of those books; some were official Choose Your Own Adventure books, and some were knock off brands that I couldn’t remember. In the back of my mind I decided to start collecting these again, partly for my kids and partly for myself.
Over the weekend my kids and I stopped by a used bookstore. It’s a treat for them because both of my kids enjoy reading and I always end up buying them two or three books each (used books are cheap). While at the bookstore I asked the lady working behind the counter if they had any Choose Your Own Adventure books, and she said no. “That’s okay,” said my son. “I was wanting to get some Goosebumps books anyway.”
So we head to the kids section in search of R.L. Stine (the author of the Goosebumps series) and instead we found these:
Twistaplot books! Twistaplot books were published through Scholastic Books, so it was common (back when I was a kid, anyway) to see these show up in your monthly “school book order club” papers. According to Gamebooks.org, there were 18 Twistaplot books in all. This bookstore had 1/3 of them. $3/each.
I had no idea R.L. Stine wrote any of the Twistaplot books. Interestingly enough, several of the other books in the series were co-written by Megan Stine and William Stine, who from what I can tell (and someone correctly me if I’m wrong, please!) are not related to R.L. Stine. Apparently I am not the only person who experiences weird coincidences.
I owned The Time Raider and Crash Landing! as a kid, and have never read the other four I picked up, so I’m looking forward to flipping through these with my kids while reliving some old (and experiencing some new) twisty adventures!
We talked about Choose Your Own Adventure books several times on Retroist.com (here, here, here, and here). But I have to talk about them again just a little because I finally purchased one. I was happy to find that Choose Your Own Adventure books are on the Kindle (along with Fighting Fantasy books), but I haven’t yet purchased one because they didn’t have any of the ones I remembered. Most notably, they didn’t have The Cave of Time.
If you’ve read this, you know that I didn’t get to read The Cave of Time when I was in grade school because a schoolmate lost the school’s copy. After waiting too long to see if it would come on the Kindle, I finally purchased a hard copy. And once I got this hard copy, I realized one of the many things that kept me coming back to the Choose Your Own Adventure books. It was the covers! Look at the cover for The Cave of Time. A creepy knight-like guy. A samurai. A T-Rex under a moon. Me on a horse heading for a castle. And the Loch Ness Monster. Not only were all those things cool, but the suggestion was I’d get to meet them all! And that’s what I wanted to do, and when I didn’t meet them all on my first adventure, I went back and made new choices in an attempt to do so. It was that promise of meeting all these cool people and monsters that kept me going through these books time and time again.
There were also pictures inside the books. Some of them matched up to the cover, like this one:
Oh no! Never choose page 75!
And that, my friends, is the secret of the Choose Your Own Adventure books.