Review: Countdown To Danger: Choose Your Own Ending!

Wild undiluted adventure is the theme throughout this set of exciting Choose Your Own Ending! books by the unstoppable, Jack Heath. This series has been around for a few years now but it never grows less thrilling to experience. And that’s exactly what reading the Countdown To Danger series is – an experience, because like most great ‘you choose’ adventures, YOU are the hero and responsible for everything that happens from the minute you begin your adventure.

Similar in fast-paced style to Heath’s Danger … Minutes series for older readers, this collection rewards the reader with heart-stopping multiple ending scenarios that play out in a finite time frame, 30 minutes to be precise. That’s not a lot of time to save the world or your mates but it sure does ramp up the intensity of these stories. I love the multi-ending aspect of this style of storytelling because just like in real life, not every outcome is enjoyable or good or anticipated. I mean who wants to be eaten by a giant shark! Part of the addictive fun of these books is the insane pressure of making the right decision but of course the beauty of them is their inconclusiveness; you can always go back and try again.

Each of the three books in the, Countdown To Danger series offers 30 different story paths springing from a single set up scenario. Some are comfortably plausible choices, others ridiculously outrageous options. All are guaranteed to take you some place unexpected and quite often, dangerous.

Heath’s ability to turn up the tension in a single sentence is almost legendary. Heartbeats will race and pages flick back and forth well into the night after beginning one of these adventures. Thanks to the timed countdown shown on each page and clear page numbering, following the various story paths is straightforward. I’ve just finished, Shockwave which features hero-eating sharks so large it would take a village of humans to satisfy them. Gulp! This was especially harrowing for me as I HATE sharks! But just like an eight-year-old, I hung in there till each (sometimes) bitter (read biting) end. Awesome!

Other titles in the series are: Bullet Train Disaster and Deadly Heist (by Jack Heath) and although each of these is literally a question of ‘choosing whether you live or die’, these are still madly exciting reads for youngsters between 7 – 12 years of age and big kids like me who love a good old adventure. Humming with ethical decisions, survival dilemmas and plenty of problem solving, these stories are ideal for the inquisitive, questing mind. Written in second person, as most choose your own adventure stories are, this series plants readers smack bang in the middle of the action and you only have yourself to blame if things go horribly wrong. 

If you want to experience more thrilling multiple ending stories, check out George Ivanoff’s You Choose series. (Previously reviewed by me for Boomerang Books Blog). For the ultimate immersive, interactive choose your own adventure encounter download the free Story City app and play my digital locative narrative, The Chapel of Unlove. All guaranteed to blow your mind!

Title:  Countdown To Danger: Choose Your Own Ending! Shock Wave
Author:  Jack Heath
Publisher: Scholastic Australia, $12.99
Publication Date:  May 2016 – 2017
Format: Paperback
For ages:  7 – 12
Type:  Junior Fiction, Multi-ending Fiction

Buy the Book: Boomerang Books, Dymocks, Story City app (free), George Ivanoff /Penguin Random House


Norah Colvin said…
This sounds exciting, Dimity. I didn't realise 'choose your own adventure' books were still a thing. I remember enjoying reading them with my son close to (shh!) 40 years ago. We loved debating which path we'd follow. At least we could always go back a try another if he didn't work out how we wanted. I wouldn't mind if 'real' life was like that sometimes. :)
DimbutNice said…
Yes, Norah, they most resolutely are! So. Much. Fun. Still one of the best immersive story experiences in my book. :-D

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