A little while back I did an interview with authors Mike MacDonald and Jilly Gagnon while they were promoting their first choose your own misery book The Office Adventure. I had such a great time talking to them and reading the book that I jumped at the chance to review their new effort, The Holidays. MacDonald and Gagnon have tapped into a genre that is close to my heart, I spent a lot of time as a kid reading the Sci-Fi choose your own adventure books, and even though their books are far from the old nostalgic books of my childhood their books are ripe with comedy set in all too real world settings.
Everyone has had at least one holiday where things just didn’t go right; plans messed up, family acting crazy, things getting out of hand, this book has all of this and more. MacDonald and Gagnon have a writing style that exaggerates the obvious in a way that solicits frequent chuckles and head nods of deep comprehension during the page turning atrocities of a christmas debacle. The descriptions of certain scenarios are so on point I can almost close my eyes and find myself in that situation, or more accurately, I have actually been in the said scenario and find their descriptions extremely accurate. The scenarios are varied and not all of them are outrageous but the outrageousness of each scenario is showcased by the unique comedy writing. MacDonald and Gagnon run through a full gamut of scenarios that cover not just family and other normal things anyone would think about christmas; they venture into other little things that may be overlooked by people that always spend time with family, things like renting cars or riding busses, getting a motel, or going to church when you’re an atheist. All of the scenarios are hilarious and find the funny in the misery.
I got this book digitally for review and I feel like I should talk about the digital format a bit because the way it works with the choose your own adventure style is fairly unique and made it really easy to read. When it came time to choose the adventure there were “Go Here” links that not just sent you to the correct page they showed the first sentence or more so you knew where to start since the pages had other parts from other decisions on them. For me and my reading style I just remembered the key decision from the beginning and ride a decision until the end but afterwards I always go back and read the other decision just for good measure. I feel like this reading style made this book about ten times longer and all of the different paths that I took were hilarious and worth the retreading. There are so many different routes and ways to turn in this book I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface and because of this I feel like the value of the book is increased. I can’t think of another style of book that allows you to read and reread so many times and still keeps everything fresh. When I was a kid and I flipped through pages it was easy to dog ear or keep your finger in the page that had the choice so I assume that it would be just as easy to read this book many times while in print as I did digitally.
I can’t recommend this book enough, especially for those that enjoy comedy writing. This book is funny and real in a way that evokes true fear like only the holidays can bring. This book will be available in all major bookstores and Amazon as of October 18th so go out and choose your own misery!