Choose-Your-Own [Path]…for Adults?

Into the Dungeon

by Hari Conner

Who among us did not enjoy the Choose Your Own Adventure series when we were kids? Author Hair Conner brings those nostalgic vibes to his readers in his book, Into the Dungeon. Into the Dungeon is marketed as a “Choose Your Own Path” book, where the reader gets to make decisions that affect the character’s outcome. But wait…there’s more. The book also includes a built-in game where the reader can gain gold pieces, treasures, and helpful items that might help them survive the story.

At the beginning of the story, readers get to choose between one of four pre-established characters (you can also make your own using the blank character pages at the back of the book). Each character has a health, strength, dexterity, and intelligence rating that will play into the scenario. For example, some options are only available for characters with an intelligence rating of 3 or above. Others will be able to escape monster attacks if their dexterity score is above a 4. As the character moves through the book, they might get hurt. The player must not run out of health points or they die. Due to this game component, it’s necessary to read this book with a pencil in hand.

I worked through five scenarios, making sure that I played as each character. I only died suddenly once– my intelligence score was too low to prevent my character from eating a poison feast and becoming trapped in the ghost dinner forever. I escaped monsters, survived dark cages, and navigated sketchy waters all while earning gold.

So, what did I think?? This is the most unconventional book club pick EVER. There’s not much to discuss, so I expect that our evening will be spent rehashing our scores and discussing the different paths we took. It was also a fun way to spend a rainy afternoon. All five scenarios only took me about an hour to complete. However, I was hoping for a little more out of this book when the pick was first pitched. If it’s a book geared toward adults, I feel like it should have more details than the Choose Your Own Adventures of my youth. I feel like there is SO MUCH MORE the author could have done with the story. Instead, it feels like the storyline was second fiddle to the game component.

If your brain is fried and you want to read a book that’s not really a book, this is a GREAT option. It might even be fun to play together with your spouse or friend. However, I have to drop the rating due to the overly simplistic storyline. The book may be made to read in one sitting, but I would rather take longer to read it if it gave me the ability to immerse myself in the story. 2/5 stars

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