Remember Choose Your Own Adventure books? When I was in elementary school my library had a few of them. I was very into them for a while. But when I read them, I cheated. I’d pick an option and look ahead to see what happened, while I left my pinky marking the spot (who didn’t do this). Because if I fell from a cliff and died or walked right into a trap, I obviously didn’t want to go that way. The goal was to stay alive and finish the adventure. There was a proper ending to all these adventures. There was only one way to go, but hundreds of different ways to go. I think all but the right one turned into a bad thing like slavery or being eaten alive by a giant praying mantis or something.
Last night I finished this book called Parasite Pig by William Sleator. If any of you have read Interstellar Pig, then you will definitely want to know about Parasite Pig, because it’s the sequel. I read Interstellar Pig when I was in junior high. Yes, it’s young adult science fiction. So is the sequel. But that doesn’t matter. William Sleator is an excellent author and if you have kids or are a kid, you want to get his books. They turned me onto theoretical physics and science in a way nothing else had. My honest opinion is that Parasite Pig isn’t as great as its prequel. Probably because of the rather gruesome way he depicts the scene of two girls being grilled alive by human-eating crabs from the planet J’koot.
But don’t let that turn you off. It’s still good.
So the human characters are trapped on this planet with few options for escape. The aliens who could help the humans escape also want to use them for diabolical purposes and then kill them. I’ll give it away and tell you that the humans get off the planet without being eaten by the crabs. They return to earth and life goes on as normal. But the feeling I had when I finished it was . . . desolate. The way I felt after seeing the movie 12 Monkeys when I was 17 (I might have missed something, I don’t know. I haven’t seen it since). I hate that feeling. I think I’ll do anything to avoid it and if I have the hunch that something’s going to make me feel that way, I’ll say to hell with it and walk away. That desolate feeling is also how I felt after choosing the wrong route in Choose Your Own Adventure books. I think it’s why I gave them up.
I don’t know where I’m going with this. I guess I’m just annoyed that even though the humans made it home, I didn’t feel resolved and okay with life when I put the book down. I think Sleator dropped the ball and tried to sum up the human narrative side of things too quickly. It reminded me of a Choose Your Own Adventure. You should only feel that way when reading one of those. Not when you’re reading a real book. As we all know, Choose Your Own Adventures aren’t real books. They’re dumb. It’s a poor excuse for a book.
But at this point, I guess I’m reading just about anything. The weird thing is, I still miss Harry, Ron and Hermione. It’s like Rowling puts an addictive chemical in her books that make you crave them fortnightly….