Review: Lost in Austen by Emma Campbell Webster

October 2, 2009 Books, Reviews 1

Lost in Austen: Create Your Own Jane Austen Adventure by Emma Campbell WebsterLost in Austen
Buy It Now: at Powell’s | at Amazon

Description: Bringing together Jane Austen’s most beloved characters and storylines-a clever, playful, interactive, and highly entertaining approach to the wildly popular novels in which you, the reader, decide the outcome.

Name: Elizabeth Bennet.
Mission: To marry both prudently and for love.
How? It’s entirely up to the reader.

The journey begins in Pride and Prejudice but quickly takes off on a whimsical Austen adventure of the reader’s own creation. A series of choices leads the reader into the plots and romances of Austen’s other works. Choosing to walk home from Netherfield Hall means falling into Sense and Sensibility and the infatuating spell of Mr. Willoughby. Accepting an invitation to Bath leads to Northanger Abbey and the beguiling Henry Tilney. And just where will Emma’s Mr. Knightley fit in to the quest for a worthy husband? It’s all up to the reader.

A labyrinth of love and lies, scandals and scoundrels, misfortunes and marriages, Lost in Austen will delight and challenge any Austen lover.

Wenchie’s Review: B

Ah, the choose you own adventure novels, they take me back. I don’t know about you, but I used to love these books when I was in elementary school. They didn’t have a lot of these at the school library, but I remember one I got at a book fair once. I think it was about Columbus. (The famous 1492 explorer, not the city.) So you can imagine how excited I was when I heard there was a choose your own adventure based on Jane Austen’s novels. If I recall correctly, I got wind of the book when the BBC made the 4 part miniseries of the same title. Obviously the show is a bit different, but that’s beside the point.

As the summary says, you, the reader, take on the role of Elizabeth Bennet and the book centers around Pride and Prejudice. It’s played a bit like a game as you read. There are categories such as Accomplishments, Failings, Intelligence, and Fortune, etc, in which you add points or get them taken away depending on what choices you make. It’s all very fun when you start out, although I have to admit I skipped over a lot of the point counting towards the end, just to get to the all the fun turning points. Now, the main goal is to marry, and not only well, but for love. So with that in mind you set off from your home in Longbourn and the adventure begins, taking you through five different stages of the game.

I really enjoyed this book. It was fun and just about every scenario was amusing. Depending on how you choose, you either end up on your way to loving someone, or you marry badly and it all ends with your public humiliation and you live your life either as a spinster or cast out from society, or you die. There’s even one scenario where it’s sort of a case of “rocks fall, everyone dies”, which is probably my favorite death sequence in the book. I especially liked that instead of marrying at the end, you can choose to write novels and continue your adventure by starting out at page 1 again. It’s an interesting way to get the reader to start over and play the game some more. All in all, it’s really an enjoyable read and I imagine I’ll be reading this book many times over before I return it to the library.

The only real problem I had with this book is that it seems that all roads lead to Darcy. Granted that’s Pride and Prejudice for you, but come on, can’t Eliza Bennet be equally happy with one of the other Austen heroes? Seriously. I thought that was the point of the choose your own Jane Austen adventure, to choose someone else from those novels that she could possibly end up with. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Darcy just like everyone else, but it seemed like whenever you/Elizabeth are/is involved in a possible match with, say, Mr. Tilney or Captain Wentworth, for example, something goes wrong and either the marriage fails and you lose the game, or you end up back en route to Darcy-ville for the P&P happily ever after. It’s just kind of annoying that it always has to be Darcy, Darcy, Darcy. And that’s why I gave this a B instead of a B+.