Monday, July 16, 2018

Freedom Finders - Break Your Chains by Emily Conolan

The Freedom Finders: Break Your Chains by Emily Conolan
Published March 2018 Allen & Unwin


To find freedom, you must leave behind everything you've ever known. It is 1825. You and Ma have survived on the streets of London ever since the soldiers took Da away and you fled Ireland. Now, with Ma gone too, you find yourself facing life-and-death choices at every turn. Can you carry a secret treasure across the ocean and finally be reunited with Da? You'll be asked to betray your friends, survive storms at sea and attacks by bushrangers, and trust thieves. At every turn, the choice is yours. How far will you go for freedom?

WARNING: YOU MAY DIE WHILE READING THIS BOOK... could there be a better opening page

Well, there might very well be, but this one is a cracker, here's what else is on the opening page:

When you read this book, you are the main character, and you make the choices that direct the story.
At the end of many chapters, you will face life-and-death decisions.  Turn to the page directed by your choice, and keep reading.
Some of these decisions may not work out well for you.  But there is a happy ending somewhere.
In the Freedom Finders series, it is your quest to find freedom through the choices you make.  If you reach a dead end, turn back to the last choice you made, and find a way through

Set in 2011,
your character is fleeing Somalia
This is quite different from most Choose Your Own books we see.  It's quite substantial in size, at 279 pages, and because thebooks in this series are based on real time periods in history, there is a Fact File section at the back of the book if you want more information.

I did die in this book, more than once, even though I thought I was making the right choice.  I found some of the choices a real battle between head and heart, and they are the type of choices we make every day.  For example at the start of the book, after your Ma has died, you have a choice of giving the stretcher-bearer your bracelet (the only thing of value you own) for a decent burial, OR you keep the bracelet, knowing your Ma would be dumped into the cold earth, without a marker or a prayer. I thought I was doing the right thing by choosing a decent burial for my Mum....

At the end of some chapters, you have the choice of jumping to the back of the books to read the Fact File on the particular topic you're reading about, like, child labour or smallpox. You will also find yourself at the end of some chapters where you have no choice in the decision at all.

It's an interesting series because I don't necessarily think it will appeal to avid readers of  'choose your own' type books.  It may however be a good opportunity to move those readers onto a new genre of historical or factual fiction, while still satisfying their need for a 'choose your own' book.  It's also something fun for avid readers of historical/realistic fiction, to try something different.

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