No Return Land was the book I bought at Montreal Comiccon. The question is: how would it feel to feel like you are playing a video game while you read. You know, capture the feeling of being in control of your choices. When I met the author Jeff Storm at their booth, his enthusiasm for this idea sold me on it almost right away. Determine the Destiny series recently released its third book. I still need to read the first one since I decided to pick up this one. However, the stories are not linked together. Most of you are thinking Choose Your Own Adventure series right now (or if you are old enough to remember it like I was) but this has a little twist. Hear me out, okay?
No Return Land (Determine Your Destiny #2)
by: Jeff Storm
The deadly flooding of our planet… an evil lady with astounding mental powers… a desolated island faraway… an army of crazy fanatics… and YOU…
This time you must fight to determine our world’s destiny. Your decisions and exceptional skills will decide the fate of the Earth. Only YOU can succeed. Get ready to defend the lives of seven billion people and hang on to yours! – Goodreads
Determine Your Destiny takes what we remember as Choose Your Own Adventure and adds in some gaming elements. It is also the reason why they were the only book showcased in the indie game zone at Montreal Comiccon. How do you make that happen, you ask? Every book starts with a different story. Before the book starts, the author makes sure we know what we are getting into by telling us how to read the book. Then he proceeds to tell us our character’s story, our mission, and what we are about to face. But, that still doesn’t make it a video game yet. What makes it filled with video game elements is that he presents our character with magical skills. There is a list of magical skills that we can choose from. In No Return Land, there are fifteen. Each with their own description so that we can weigh the pros and cons when we choose which five we want to accompany us on our mission. These skills come into play as you make choices. Having certain powers will grant an extra path you can take. You can see how this drew me to want to read this even if it is geared towards kids. But hey, I’m a gamer (officially since Game Warp started) so there’s this child in me that is reignited and this appeals to me even more.
No Return Land is the first book of the this series that I’ve read even if it is the second adventure. Right off the bat, it is definitely geared towards children because it feels like we are controlling the life of a skillful protagonist facing an enemy that might not be all that brutal in adult eyes but suffice for kids to really feel the danger and want to save the world. Our antagonist in this one is Zenkay who believes that technology is destroying the world because of something that happened to her so her goal is to give the world a reboot. The journey there is challenging. In my story, my character had the skills of Invisibility, Heavenly Shield, Eternal Breath, Tight Web and Laser Eyes. I feel like a superhero just saying those powers and I questioned at the beginning if they will all come to use as choices and they did. Effectively, when the choice was available, I’d choose using magical skills. However, even so, there are choices like Choose Your Own Adventure that is just simple choices and these sometimes are the tricky ones that can lead to death. I died probably a little over a handful of times and went back to backtrack and go down another path. Exploring those paths was what made this book even more fun to read.
No Return Land is a short and quick read. Flipping through them is easy as it is manages well to jump through the parts. The story is simple and engaging. That particularly helps in feeling the need to make the right choice and weighing the options before choosing. Everyone can play a game or read a book but putting in elements of the best parts of both world into one is a truly fun, engaging and especially unique idea. I look forward to checking out the other two books in this series and whatever else comes up!