Sunday, 19 July 2015

#43 - "Your Code Name Is Jonah" by Edward Packard

Whalesongs Are Terrifying


By Peartree

(book chosen by Beau Dashington)

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During my first run through this book, I died after 8 pages. It was complete bullshit. I had made all the right decisions as a spy such as George Lazenby would have. I was assigned the task of finding some scientist who disappeared after he discovered the secret to decoding a message from whales. The whales, of course, were trying to help us defeat the Russians. But some lady picked me up outside the office, pulled a gun on me, tortured me, then shot me.

I wanted to seduce the woman into not killing me like GL would have done by just getting naked and showing her my special gadget, but that wasn't a choice. And that's the main problem with these 'choose your own adventure books' (or CYOA for those hip people). It's not 'choose your OWN adventure' it's 'choose ONE OF THE LIMITED PREDETERMINED POSSIBLE COURSES OF ACTION WRITTEN BY THE AUTHOR adventure'. But OOTLPPCOAWBTAA doesn't roll off the tongue I suppose.

So anyway I wanted to write a review based on those 8 pages, but Beau said I had to read the entire book even though the first page is a warning with three (!!!) exclamation marks stating that you should NOT read it all the way through and that 'you cannot go back!'. But in the end I decided to say 'fuck it. I'm George fucking Lazenby'. Besides, it's a warning on a children's book, it's not a cop, what's it going to do?

What happens throughout the book you ask? Well for starters there are only 27 endings, not 40 like the fucking book cover states. Lying Piece Of Shit™. Other than that it was what you'd expect from a kids novel about spies. You can rescue the scientist from the bad guys' headquarters in a New England mansion, chase some evil dudes out on a boat, board a submarine to steal a recording from some villainous bros, get double or triple crossed by a nefarious pal, sell information to odious fellows, and a bunch of other stuff involving all around disagreeable chaps.

The one thing missing is that you are never swallowed by a whale, or giant fish for some reason. I assumed that was the whole point of the codename Jonah. Why else would the author give your character such a pansy ass name.

Here is a little chart of the possibilities.

That little symbol under the gun is supposed to be a wave. You drown. I should have just put this but ah well.

12.7 pages to read through the average adventure. Twelve point fucking seven. Maybe this book should have concentrated on more depth instead of breadth. Sure they idea of choosing where your character goes is fun, but if it only lasts 4 minutes it's like telling 8 bikini clad women to put together a giant four piece puzzle of George Lazenby's face. Everyone's going to be disappointed rather quickly.

Speaking of disappointment, let's go over the entire plot of the book. Some scientist has discovered that humpback whales are trying to communicate with humans and for some reason you and the Russians are warring over the information. I don't understand why. Who the hell cares what a whale has to tell you. "Hey! There are some great krill over there!" I don't care, stupid whales. By the way, ever listened to a whalesong? It's terrifying.

What they actually tell you, and I promise I'm not making this up, is there is "a huge, protected cavern in the Arctic, twenty kilometres across - a whole country, owned and occupied by whales, talking whales". It's odd that two countries would be warring over this, but you quickly learn that both countries want to use the cavern as a military base. Because fuck those talking whales. This earth belongs to us.

Every ending in which you complete your mission the President decides to not build a base there, or makes peace with Russia and they both decide they will not invade the whales' cavern. If you don't complete your mission and/or are killed you have no idea what happens because just as in life there is no epilogue. I can only assume that the Russians invade the cavern, kill off most of the whales, and hold a status referendum for the territory to join Russia.

If that is the case I hope the whales are as bad ass as my character was to take them on. In one of the stories I was on a ship and a submarine surfaced right below us.
The Arcturus is splitting open.
Water is gushing up. Waves are breaking over the deck.
"Do you think they did it on purpose?" the captain asks.
You shrug your shoulders.
"It looks like we're going down," you say.
"I'm afraid so," the captain replies.

 That's right. You don't mess with a guy who shrugs his shoulders as his ship is going down in the middle of the Atlantic ocean. The last thing the Russians saw was his smiling face as the frigid waters tried to swallow him into the abyss, because he jumped out of the water as they turned around and threw a motherfucking knife into their backs.

- Peartree

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