by Richard Brightfield
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Choose Your Own Adventure: Hijacked! / 0-553-28635-8
I always liked the "Choose Your Own Adventure" books when I was a kid, although goodness knows that some of them were of...questionable quality. This one was undoubtedly my favorite though - I read it hundreds of times and cared enough to track it down again as an adult.
Unlike the poorer cousins in the series, "Hijacked!" really *does* let you choose your own adventure - there's none of this tightly-scripted path nonsense where every choice except the "correct" one results in an immediate game-over. "Hijacked!" has several really wonderful choices, especially near the beginning, that influence major details such as which classmate comes along with you in an attempt to escape (an invaluable stress-relieving conceit in a novel that otherwise delightfully terrified me as a child) and which escape areas are open to you.
The writing is superb (especially by the CYOA standards), and deeply memorable - I still fondly remember the amusing scene near the beginning when the hijackers order the students on the bus to be quiet and they initially receive about as much of a response as the bus driver usually does - and the story and setting are well-realized, with wonderful pictures that are certain to frighten any reader - some of the endings involve being brainwashed into a terrorist group and being locked into a room that slowly fills with water until you drown (a particularly good picture that seared itself into my childhood memory).
Although I've made this sound scary, it's really more what I would call exhilarating - the characters are easy for the reader to sink into, and the adventure really does feel like you're choosing the outcome of the story. The good endings (of which there are several) are satisfying and cathartic, but if possible the bad endings are even better - memorably creepy and well-written.
~ Ana Mardoll
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