Thrusts of Justice (Chooseomatic Books) by Matt Youngmark

Summary

Thrusts of Justice
Interactive books have been around for many years. Although popular in the 70’s and 80’s, it is again showing an insurgence in popularity. I can honestly not compare this book to anything I have read previously, so I am reviewing this from a newbie point of view. While I acknowledge the style is different, and there will be fundamental changes to the storytelling methodology, it must still conform to certain areas of literary writing protocols, with which I am vastly familiar and experienced. Having said that, this has been the most fun this reader has experienced reading a story. The offbeat one-line humour coupled with ribald comedy sent the reader into random bouts of laughter. This added many nostalgic moments of cartoons and comics from years gone by. Definitely one for adults of all ages that still have a childlike quality to their essence, but absolutely no reason why the younger age group could not enjoy this as well. There was no graphic sex or realistic death scenes within. You will need patience, lots of patience.

Sitting in a bar, drowning their sorrows, are three ex-reporters. Having recently been laid off from the Cleveland Tribune, Melah, Dale and the third reporter (You), are discussing launching a new journalistic web site. You are all suddenly surrounded by a white light and given a warning of extreme events to come: “Only you can save the world, so choose carefully. They’re coming”! So the story begins.

Outside, a bank has just been robbed and a meteor has landed, leaving a crater in the surrounding landscape. Three unmistakable characters rise from the debris.

1. The Ox, a famous super-villain (Obviously the bank robber).

2. The Nightwatchman, a mysterious hero.

3. The Cosmic Guardian, a legendary figure from the 80’s.

You the reader, the third ex-reporter, will be given the first of many choices; this decision will be a direction to follow, commencing your interactive experience. You take the lead from here on, and each time a significant scene appears choices must be determined to continue with your quest. Your role is to make intuitive choices as the story progresses and assume the significant roles you choose, thus creating the narrative as you go along. The result is to unravel the puzzle by understanding the characters, seize the plot and save the world—the usual familiar super hero type scenario. Or is it?

The wonderful experience with interactive literature is that as the reader, you are the protagonist within this story. It is a puzzle within a story, with you at the helm, choosing the routes to take, making decisions as they are presented. There are 90 possible endings to this story, so you must choose wisely, as 84 of these will end in your untimely, and often annoying, death. The death scenes are usually very quick, cartoonish, and quite humorous, so there are no graphic blood-thirsty moments to be seen.

The story is written in the second person, present tense. This accentuates the reader’s role as the protagonist. The story narrates to you and you also discuss findings with yourself as internal monologue. Most of the time these are laborious, informal in tone and voice. The writing is fast-paced, witty, very descriptive and follows literary standards for punctuation and grammar as well as possibly able within the confines of interactive, non-linear storytelling.

The use of multimedia enhances the reader’s experience with many static, anime-type graphics, usually depicting a super character; very well drawn. The word building and sentence structure was admirable for this type of dialogue. The quality of writing was simplistic, coherent and creative; allowing a certain amount of artistic freedom for the author’s style of originality with often familiar scenes and themes. Fluidity was successful within the differing routes, where linear writing was apparent for short periods of time. The characters were unable to be well-rounded or too complex due to the constraints of the differing route lengths. Thus the story was definitely character driven. Though what descriptions were written certainly gave each character their due. The plethora of characters within this story depended on the route the protagonist travelled; with the speech patterns discernible for each character without the use of dialogue tags.

The plot, or main theme, resembled the Axiel format style of interactive literature; very consistent in maintaining its presence throughout the multitude of routes. The plot layers branched in all directions, leading away from the central area, forming a glut of interwoven stories, even looping on occasion. The reader’s decision would ultimately determine the outcome of the story, and utilising the character wardrobe/suitcase the reader/protagonist assumes new identities, allowing for a unique perspective in understanding each of the characters and plot layers. The structure of the story definitely followed the literary guidelines; the hook attracted the reader’s attention, initially setting off the domino effect of the interactive process. All branches had movement within their storylines, action sequences, and often an ending usually with the protagonist’s demise. A well thought out story, very enjoyable.

Thank you!

To find the branch that leads to saving the world is the key to solving the puzzle. Can you find it?


Review

Criteria Relevant information Mark
1. Perception:

  • Believability
  • Correct science
  • Correct fiction facts
  • Society makes sense
  • Type of writing, smooth flow/ how is the transition from Descriptive to Narrative.
  • Genre: Action adventure /science Fiction. PG 13.
  • An interactive cartoon/comic type scenario. It is pure fantasy; believability does not come into it.
  • It focuses on solving the puzzle combined with storytelling, having the reader at the helm controlling which characters will be in play.
  • There were 90 possible endings with 81 resulting in a humiliating death scene for the reader as the protagonist.
  • Modern day society with a bizarre twist. Written in second person, present tense. Lengthy internal monologues narrate the story from the protagonist’s point of view. Very descriptive writing and humorous. Once following a particular route, the story and sentences flow fairly well; but as usual with interactive literature, you cannot read this in a linear fashion. Transition from internal monologue narrative to conversational contained no dialogue tags, great effort.
5 Stars (5 / 5)
2. Grammar :

  • Spelling errors
  • Syntax/ Sentence structure
  • Punctuation
  • Laziness/Sloppiness
  • Format issues, missing words
  • Apart from the lengthy internal monologues/narration, attempts to conform to literary standards were admirable. It is a unique blend of literature and game.
  • The tone was informal. Using multimedia to tell the story, text and anime-styled static graphics enhanced the experience for the differing story routes.
  • Found only 1 word missing p.8. Insignificant to the story.
5 Stars (5 / 5)
3. Characters:

  • Too many with some forgotten
  • Complexity/Roundness
  • Growth pattern
  • Speech pattern in keeping with character
  • Likeability/originality
  • Plethora of superheroes and villains made an appearance depending on the route and storyline followed.
  • The characters did not all turn out to be who they were supposed to be, so beware of this twist.
  • The reader assumed the role of the protagonist and was integral in creating the narrative for each route taken.
  • The story lines were of differing lengths, therefore impossible for growth or roundness to develop for any of the characters.
  • Speech patterns were in keeping with the character’s personalities and tone.
  • Definite likeable characters, even the villains—unrealistic and cartoony, as intended. Mixture of familiarity, originality and unfamiliar characters. New characters could be formed if the protagonist followed certain routes. One liners added hilarity, giving rise to periods of nostalgia. The characters seem of a different era; definitely adults would recognise some of the phrasing.
5 Stars (5 / 5)
4. Plot /Story line:

  • Crafting of plot/plots
  • Complexity
  • How do they converge
  • Humor/Tragedy was it real to reader
  • Ending
  • Axiel, hypertext fiction format, where the central story/plot is maintained throughout. The central plot is the alien invasion and annihilation of the world as we know it.
  • The plot layers comprise the many branches/routes for the protagonist to explore. In each layer the protagonist will take on a role as either a supervillain or a superhero. Choices frequent the story at different points and the reader, aka the protagonist, eventually moves toward an ending to solving the plot dilemma.
  • The reader’s decisions will determine the outcome of the story. By utilising the format of the character suitcase the reader/protagonist assumes new identities, allowing for a unique way of understanding each of the characters.
  • There were 90 differing versions of endings with 81 ways to die horrible, humiliating comic style deaths—most of which this reader experienced.
  • The style was non-linear, the story cannot be read from beginning to end.
  • Very complex in its makeup, found one set of looping.
  • It was actually so well constructed that all the characters and their stories blended into each other, no matter what path was taken.
  • Definitely humorous text, cheesy one-liners abound.
  • Ending—well this reader got a bit tired of dying. Tried to be the superhero, the retired hero, the flawed hero, the good villain, the new superhero, the bad villain, the evil villain, 15 different  times, ending with either splattered, mashed, blown up, annihilated, vaporised, pulverised, etc. The ending eluded me. The world died.
5 Stars (5 / 5)
5. Bigger picture:

  • Reader involvement
  • Social/ethical dilemmas/morals
  • Order of story does it work
  • Did the reader enjoy it/Do you want to read more
  • Plagiarism
  • Offers a unique approach to reading a novel.
  • Underlying social and moral/ethical issues, especially with the choices the protagonist needs to make. Do they become the good guy and save the old lady, or the villain and blow her to bits? Hmmm, tempting!
  • Network of nodes /routes to take, all interconnected, with one major theme running through entire story. The format was chunky at times, expected with a non-linear read. There was the form of structure with a beginning, the bank robbery and the meteor striking. Many routes to take, all with action sequences and an ending of saving the world or dying.
  • Enjoyable, I am hooked. Well done!
5 Stars (5 / 5)

Overall Rating

  1. Star Poor
  2. Stars Needs a lot of rework to make it better
  3. Stars Good but has some problem areas
  4. Stars Really good just couple problems
  5. Stars Excellent
Perception:5 Stars (5 / 5)
Grammar:5 Stars (5 / 5)
Characters:5 Stars (5 / 5)
Plot:5 Stars (5 / 5)
Big Picture:5 Stars (5 / 5)
Average:5 Stars (5 / 5)
Overall
5 Stars (5 / 5)
Excellent


Genre: fantasy adventure, sci-fi
Subjects: adventure, ebook, kindle, review, scifi