The Wandering is a literary fiction choose-your-own-adventure novel, as an Indonesian woman who dreams of travel makes a deal with the devil. You’re stuck in a rut in Jakarta, teaching English, when you end up with a demon lover who offers you whatever you want. What you want is an adventure, to travel the world, and you end up with a pair of red shoes and the chance to go anywhere. But with such freedom, what are the best choices to make and the best stories to hear from the strangers you meet along the way?
Going into the novel, I didn’t know just how ‘choose-your-own-adventure’ it was going to be, but the answer is that it properly follows the format, with decision points that lead you off down different routes, mostly taking you to different countries and lives. It’s hard to tell how many different ways you can go, as I only took a couple of the different paths, but these offered various options so presumably quite a few (reading it on Kindle meant it was hard to get a sense of even how long it was or could be, and actually the hyperlinks worked nicely to make you more likely to stick to your chosen path). The use of storytelling and the ways different stories can have an impact on you was interesting (there was a nice element where you could go and be reminded of the plots of particular stories if you wanted in the middle of sections), particularly alongside the fact you were aware you were losing other stories by choosing ways to go.
This is an unusual look at global travel and the ways that choices can have a massive impact on your life. If, like me, you find choose-your-own-adventure a bit stressful due to not knowing if you’re making the best choice, then actually the novel works well to get across that point, whilst having enough text between decisions to feel like you are getting proper stories. As with the genre in general, it probably needs multiple reads to fully experience it, but it’s definitely an interesting exploration of where you can go with narrative.
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