Remember those Choose Your Own Adventure books that were so awesome when you were younger? Not too long ago I found one for grown-ups. When I came across Pretty Little Mistakes by Heather McElhatton in my library’s used book store I was immediately intrigued. I loved those books as a kid (who didn’t?) and the idea of reading one written for adults seemed exciting (key word “seemed”).
After just a few story progressions I was put off by the whole novel. The sections are really disjointed and pretty far-fetched. Each “story” is very short; only once did I jump more than five times. The stories were neither creative nor did the consequences equal the choices I made. I died in every ending and depending on the choices I made I was either incredibly happy and at peace or I was some miserable waste of space. The odd part, however, was the choices seemed to lead to some ridiculous and impossible outcomes.
Example: In one story-line I became an alcoholic and after beating a baby on the head with a bottle of wine I end up in jail. After three years I am paroled and must choose to be a janitor or a waitress.
Choice 1: I chose to be a janitor at a hospital where I was raped by a monkey which lead to me living happily ever after on millions before dying of a rare monkey disease.
Choice 2: I chose to be a waitress and worked at the same restaurant for the rest of my life. I was miserable, never married the abusive jerk I lived with and finally died after a pressure cooker exploded on me.
What the heck? How is that possible? How does getting raped by a monkey lead to a happier ending? Why is that even an event that occurs? Was that supposed to be funny? I don’t even know what to think of that.
The novel is also very graphic. I don’t have an issue with books that have foul language, descriptions of sex, or excessive gore. The author, however, seems to have included a gratuitous amount just for the sake of it. It’s not particularly shocking in my opinion, but it does get a little tiresome after a while. Seriously, how many times can I read about the main character getting paid to have sex with a creep? Too many, apparently.
The novel only had a few redeeming qualities. It was a quick read. It was super easy to read a section of the story on the bus. It has a few humorous scenarios. Overall, though, the book just falls flat.
In theory, a choose-your-own-adventure novel for adults is fantastic. I am sure that if a more established writer had taken on this task the novel would have been more enjoyable. However, due to a lack of linear movement from choice to consequence and some downright disgusting and repulsive events and decisions, Pretty Little Mistakes is a good idea gone wrong.