Upon first reading Journey Under the Sea, I was surprised at the book’s short length, as I had remembered similar books in my youth that seemingly required hours of dedicated focus to complete. Perhaps my worry as a child about making the correct decisions to reach a happy ending made the books seem longer. I also enjoyed the frequent colorful illustrations, which would have greatly appealed to my younger self (unfortunately the Choose Your Own Adventure books I experienced in my youth had much fewer pictures, which were printed in black-and-white). The vivid colors and the picturesque underwater landscapes created a genuine sense of another world in which I felt genuinely immersed while reading.
Journey Under the Sea was impressive in its ability to require young children to make serious decisions that sometimes lead to catastrophic outcomes (including death, as the introduction clearly states.) I loved the agency that the story allowed the reader; such drastic choices were satisfying to me and would likely be even more rewarding for a young reader. Moreover, I admired how the harsh endings (ending in death) did not describe painful or gorey endings, as videogames played by this age-group often include. However, I was disappointed how the book’s illustrations consistently portrayed a distinctly male figure, as I had hoped that the creators of the Choose Your Own Adventure series conveyed a story that related to both male and female readers.
I found it intriguing that the author placed his extensive traveling experiences before his work and professional background in his biography, as this suggests that his creative “resume” was more responsible for his ability to create a compelling narrative for children. It was also amusing how his biography included his own children and grandchildren, as he considers his own family an asset for his qualification to write compelling literature in this genre.
I appreciate that the Choose Your Own Adventure series has a website with numerous games (which is advertised in the back of this book), as this allows children to interact with a new medium in a similar manner. It is certainly ideal for children to take pleasure in working with technology, as it will become increasingly relevant in their lives.