A unique and intriguing read

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This book is like no other I have read before and its uniqueness is what makes it such an interesting and intriguing read. It is a thriller/mystery but with elements of the ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ books that children often read too.

The story is told primarily from the perspective of Erma, an academic, whose quiet existence is shattered when she is shot twice in a targeted attack by her research assistant Jenny. However, with her would-be murderer dead, nobody can give Erma the answers she needs to try and move on from her trauma as to why she has been targeted. Erma therefore begins her own quest for the truth and a dangerous journey spiralling into a world of darkness...

I really enjoyed the mystery at the heart of this story and was invested in Erma’s journey to try and find out the truth as to why Jenny tried to kill her. Erma was working on a book prior to being shot about the history of the ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ novels which she loved during her childhood, especially those by Archibald Moder. She was exploring the different types and series, the experiences the reader has during these books, and the language and writing styles within. After Jenny’s death, Erma was given all of the notes Jenny made as part of her assistant role, but something crucial was missing; the recording Jenny made of her interview with Moder not long before her death. A recording which Erma was desperate to find in the hope it gave her some much needed answers!

I thought it was clever how there were chapters interspersed throughout the story from the perspective of the character Sero too and how these chapters reflected the dreams Erma was having. They were told in the second person, just like in the adventure books of Erma’s childhood and Sero was one of Moder’s creations. There was even a whole section at the beginning of part 3 allowing the reader to choose which options to take as Sero. I thought it was very clever how this part worked and reflected Erma’s mindset at that part of the story (I read through all of the different options available too out of curiosity).

The build up to the reveal of why Erma was targeted was also very clever and I didn’t guess the reasons behind this at all or the wider way this linked to other characters within the book. There was also an element of Erma’s past that was revealed, which again I didn’t see coming and really liked! However, I would have liked some more detail about certain characters/the plot at the end of the story and think this expansion would have helped my understanding of their motivation more.

Overall though, I have really enjoyed this unique book and being surprised by the writing style/plot along the way.