To confront the viking ghost, go to page 87. To flee the viking ghost, go to page 87.
Note: This is the entry for the actual Choose Your Own Adventure series. For the entire genre, also known as "gamebooks", click here.An Adventurer Is You!The Choose Your Own Adventure series is a famous and highly successful example of the gamebook genre with 250 million copies in print. The series, begun in 1979, saw the peak of its fame in The Eighties, and after Bantam Books ceased publication of the books, was revived in 2007 under the independent company Chooseco.The stories are told in Second Person Narration, which is justified in a meta sort of way: you're the one reading the book and making the decisions about what to do next, so you should play the role of the protagonist. Plots included Time Travel, UFO abduction, cross-continent racing, getting lost at sea, solving murder mysteries and coping with supercomputers. There are typically more ways of failing and/or dying than succeeding. Death sometimes comes in horriblyinventiveways, yielding textual Ludicrous Gibs.
As you venture further down, you are confronted with the following tropes:
Alternate Ending: In Space Patrol, one of the endings has you sentenced to life in a prison colony on the moon. However, a blurb after "The End" tells you "If you don't like this ending, turn to page 87."
Cats Are Mean: You can be shrunken down and eaten by one in The Mystery of Chimney Rock.
Creative Differences: Edward Packard, who pioneered the premise with his manuscript The Adventures Of You On Sugarcane Island and was one of CYOA's founders, had a falling out with R.A. Montgomery at one point. As a result, Chooseco doesn't reprint any of Packard's works, and Packard started his own book series titled U-Ventures. (Guess who claimed the rights to the CYOA franchise.)
Cruel Twist Ending: A staple of the series. It's not uncommon to turn to a page that looks like it will have a positive ending, until the word "however" shows up.
Cool and Unusual Punishment: In UFO 54-40, one of the punishments meted out by the aliens is to send a person to Somo, to "sleep for a billion years", leading to some Fridge Logic - do you still get to live out your life afterwards?
Darker and Edgier: Your Code Name is Jonah (reissued as Spy Trap) is a very cynical Cold War era entry into the series. You are in the role of a definitely adult government agent. Your antagonists are KGB (in other words, the Russians). The dialogue is very adult, including a memorable, very politically spiked conversation with the wife of the kidnapped scientist. She basically tells you off if you tow the governments line. Interestingly enough, in one of the endings, you are told by your boss, "If you have to let your conscience be your guide, you'll never make it as a spy!".
Excited Story Title!: Quite a few, mostly using just one word: Kidnapped!, Mayday!, Hostage!, Vanished!, Hurricane!, Stampede!, Earthquake! Also The Mona Lisa Is Missing!, Search The Amazon! and Sky Jam! among others.
Failure Is the Only Option: There are a few occasions in some of the books in which the two choices which are presented to the reader both lead to a bad ending.
Family-Unfriendly Death: For a series aimed at preteens and young adults, there sure are a lot of grisly depictions of your demise.
Generation Xerox: R.A. Montgomery's children Anson and Ramsey have written many books for the series. Edward Packard's daughter Andrea contributed one story, Secret of the Sun God, and collaborated with her father on another, Mayday!.
Gainax Ending: One of the endings in Inside UFO 54-40 has you warping through strange dimensions, until you've ended up "...here at this moment, reading a book!"
Mind Screw: Inside UFO 54-40 contains one ending that is inaccessible from any other page, in which you end up at Ultima, the "planet of paradise".
This is lampshaded in that particular ending ("No one can choose to visit Ultima... nor can you get here by following directions") and other parts of the book, where some people speak of a world called Ultima that is impossible to get to by conventional means.
In fact the book says of Ultima that "no one can get there by making choices or following instructions"—which of course is the whole idea behind Choose Your Own Adventure books. Kids who read Inside UFO 54-40 were helped to find Ultima by a two-page illustration that starts the ending (said illustration being much bigger than any other ending in a CYOA book).
Nonstandard Game Over: One of the endings of The Mystery of Chimney Rock has you leaving the haunted house after encountering a ghostly creature who threatens you with his fate if you ever look back at the house - another equally bad ending implies he was a former inhabitant of the house who died after falling off the roof. If you don't like that ending, you can choose to look back one last time anyway, the resulting page of which simply has a bloodcurdling scream down the page followed by a THUNK.
Another ending from the same book has your character accidentally breaking the resident witch's china cat and being cursed to pick up the pieces for all eternity, complete with There Is No End.
Norse Mythology: You get a crash course in it with the introduction to The Trumpet Of Terror.
Oh Crap: Many of the illustrations, especially if you're about to die.
Time Travel: Many titles to choose from... The Cave Of Time, Return To The Cave Of Time, Journey To The Year 3000, etc.
Vague Age: Nera Vivaldi appears in a few contemporary settings as well as at least two which noticeably take place in the future. Space Vampire at least implies that she is in her fifties but that's not much of a change given that that story (as well as Third Planet From Altair) is probably set a little farther than Next Sunday A.D..
War Is Hell: Some of the R.A. Montgomery books are pretty empthatic about this trope.
You Choose to Stay: One of the endings in Mystery Of The Maya has you becoming the ruler of the ancient Mayan kingdom until you die of old age. You have the option of going back to your old life, but you choose not to.