Graphic Novel: Meanwhile by Jason Shiga

Here is your decision: a vanilla ice cream cone or chocolate?

Make that decision and, in this book, the adventure begins. Actually, I should say adventures. There are literally thousands (3,856) of adventures in this interactive book that the reader becomes completely immersed in them.

I chose vanilla ice cream and my adventure there was short and sweet. I went back and chose chocolate and that decision led me to more and more decisions. My next decision was which one of Professor K’s inventions did I want to play with: the time machine, the memory helmet or the killotron?

Each decision had numerous and complicated consequences. Some of the consequences are disastrous, like annihilating all human life. There is ultimately a good path to follow but the reader has to pay close attention. There are also codes you have to remember to get to the “top secret” pages.

As you can see from the pictures above, it’s necessary to follow the tubes that guide the reader’s progress from picture to picture. And they seldom move from left to right. The tubes will also lead to tabs at the side of the page. That means you have to go to another page which will not usually be the next one.

As you can tell Meanwhile was a totally absorbing book. It was not a quick read at all. It had the feel of a video game or one of those complex logic puzzles. I read an interview with the author who said . . .

“I try and set up all of my books like interlocking puzzles. There’s typically a central puzzle with little puzzles shooting off of it. I realize it’s a weird way of constructing narrative, but it’s what I’m most natural at.”

The author’s approach worked for me. I’ve spent hours going back and forth and up and down in this book. It was a great stress reliever. It is appropriate for all ages. I think it would be a great intergenerational book for, say, grandparents and their grandkids.

I first discovered Meanwhile on a NY Times list of Best Graphic Novels of 2010. I was happy when I saw that our local library had a copy. It’s also available at Amazon. (I am an Amazon Associate.)

Meanwhile: Pick Any Path. 3,856 Story Possibilities by Jason Shiga is publisher by Abrams Books (Amulet imprint), 2010

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11 Responses to Graphic Novel: Meanwhile by Jason Shiga

  1. Molly says:

    what a delightful idea! i will definitely be checking this graphic novel out soon.

  2. Sounds like a fun idea. I’ve read other interactive books and they’re quite an interesting departure from regular fare.

  3. Cerrin says:

    I remember reading a mystery book like this when I was in grade school. At the bottom of the page you would have a question and your answer would send you to a different page to complete your story. It was a lot of fun. I would imagine that writing this would be quite difficult.

  4. Martha says:

    What a fun looking book. I’m not a big graphic novel fan but I think I’ll have to give this a try. I also think I’ll pass it on to my son, who I think will love it.

  5. This reminds me of the choose your own adventure books I loved as a kid. I need to check this out.

  6. Margot — If learning to do things a new way and trying different adventures keep you young (as I just read somewhere recently) you are never going to grow old. I guess I must go and pick up a graphic novel next time I’m in a real (as opposed to virtual) bookstore. (While there are still some left.)

  7. Staci says:

    sounds like one that my kids here at school would devour!!!

  8. stacy says:

    Going on my gift idea list. Of course I ‘ll have to find it myself and play first 🙂

  9. Annie says:

    This book seems really a good one and a good way for you to forget during a while your difficult time !
    I like it, and will try to see if there is something like this in France !

  10. Belle Wong says:

    This looks like a wonderful read! I think my son would enjoy reading it with me. It’s going on my to-read list – hopefully my library has a copy.

  11. Oh, my two middle children (13 and 8) would LOVE this book … thanks so much for bringing it to my attention (I suspect we may find this in an Easter basket!)

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