2 out of 4 stars
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Murdered by James Schannep is an interactive mystery novel. The reader is the main character and the one that determines how the story will unfold and what actions he will take to progress in the story.
The only consistent element of the story is how the story begins. The protagonist is separated from his friends in the unknown city of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. He finds his way into a side street and by accident discovers a body of a young woman. From there on the story unfolds from the choices that the reader makes. The reader gets the opportunity to solve a murder case. At the end of almost every chapter, there are two to three options and picking one decides how the story continues. There are three unique storylines and over fifty possible endings which the reader reaches after many complex plot twists and cliffhangers.
Speaking for myself, I couldn’t connect well with the protagonist. He was supposed to be me. I say he because even though it is never stated, in every storyline that I went through, I had a strong feeling about him being a man. It was shown mostly through the actions of those around him and bothered me because it had no apparent reasoning and could have been easily avoided. That could bring the book Murdered closer to the female audience. The other thing was the storylines. With so many, it is very hard to write a compelling and continuous story. So sometimes the main character had no clue what happened and just went with it. Which, in some cases, didn’t make any sense.
There are a few other characters in the book. Their storyline and relationship with the protagonist are also decided through the readers' choices. Some personas might be bad in one story and good in the other. Characters could be interesting. However, because of the fast-paced story and decisions that take you to unexpected points in the plot, there is no place for their development. I did sense some effort in this way with the police officer story, but it was sadly unsuccessful. So the downside to this technique of writing, in this particular book, is an absolute lack of any character development in anyone.
What I enjoyed was how the book captured the feeling of Brazil. From food to slums. It gave us the peek of the jungle and the famous Carnival. Also a diverse point of view because of cultural differences. It felt authentic, and I haven’t forgotten for a second where I was supposed to be while reading.
I had a few technical problems with this book. Links to the next chapter don’t work for every e-reader. Kobo for example. I had to get through it with a reading app. Working links take you to the start of a page with the next chapter on it, not right to the start of the next chapter. So you might accidentally see some endings before you get to them. This could be easily solved by putting each chapter on its own page. There were also many editing errors.
I thought it through carefully if I should give this book one or two stars. I rate it 2 out of 4 stars. While it had many negative sides, it was generous with action, fast-paced, and it has drawn my full attention right from the first chapter. And as I wrote above, it really succeeded in putting a reader right in the middle of Brazil.
I would recommend this book to the people that are looking for an entertaining read full of action, without much depth. From my own experience of what I was reading as a child, I would also approve it for children over twelve years old. Maybe as a parent-child reading game. But I warn you, it does contain some descriptions of violent scenes.
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