Time to make a decision…
This is my first experience reading a choose your own adventure novel in audiobook format. And I have to admit that the idea is pretty fantastic. It’s one thing to read them yourself, but as an audibook it’s an entirely different experience. It’s one that I think has a lot of potential. That said, Try Not to Die: In Brightside by Mark Tullius and Dawna Gonzales wasn’t really all that great.
Turn to Chapter 2
As I said, I love the concept of a choose your own adventure in audiobook format. This was probably the single best thing about the whole story. Having the ability to listen to the story and have the main character make decisions based on my choices has always been something I’ve been intrigued by. It was truly wonderful to be able to do so simply by moving from chapter to chapter.
In its own way, the audiobook made it even easier to follow the process of jumping from chapter to chapter. As far as I’m concerned, this book could have been one of the most amazing I’d read this year if only the story was up to par.
There are a lot of things that didn’t really work well with this story. Perhaps part of it is that I did not read the original book by Tullius that built the world in which this book is set. That said, I do think this only plays a small role in my disappointment. Ultimately, the actual plot as well as the characters were not written very well. Everything is very matter of fact. The characters all have a goal and are working toward it, but there are a lot of weird things involved in order to make the events you have to choose between more dangerous.
The world building is…okay. It’s nothing mind blowing, really. You’ve kind of just got some template for a dangerous escape novel in which the author kind of plugs in a bunch of mildly developed filler points and…voila. There’s the book.
The characters, though, are probably the worst. I never once felt connected to any of them. There didn’t seem to be any depth to a single character, or at least we never get enough time with anyone to unveil any of the potential depth they may have had. In the end all, even the main character, are very forgettable.
Choosing Your Adventure
Speaking of the main character, why were all the choices that furthered you along in the story awful? It almost felt as though the author were trying to discourage kind acts, since all the options to be kind and helpful resulted in her basically dying. Honestly, what the hell? I was so disappointed with this.
What’s worse is that this really never felt like a choose your own adventure story. It was really more of a guess the option that won’t get you killed kind of tale. This, admittedly, made me like the story a lot less than I might have if it actually had different endings that you could potentially reach.
In general there was nothing terrible about the writing, but it was definitely subpar in a lot of ways. I think the only thing that the author could do a decent job at was action…but even that was very meh.
Speaking of Meh
I’m not sure if it was the characters, the writing, or just the narrator but I never once felt scared while reading this. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t this supposed to be the kind of story that you feel scared while reading or listening to? Despite stakes being supposedly high, nothing ever felt that way. Not once. Which is hilarious because there are literally so many instances in which the main character dies if you make a bad choice.
The audio just needed something more to make me really feel like I was in the moment, to actually scare me. Maybe the voice should have been different. Maybe there should have been sound effects. Perhaps it would have been best to put in some creepy music. I’m not sure. But what they did do just didn’t work for me.
So, at the end of the day this book wasn’t terrible. But it’s definitely not anything to get excited about, either.
I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.