Tag Archives: Caribbean

Endless Summer (Visual Novel)

Pixelberry Studios

Status: Complete (3 books)

My rating: 4.5 of 5

Along with a group of fellow college students, you find yourself on a plane heading for a Caribbean island paradise. Sounds just about perfect, right? Only, before you even land, things begin to go awry. There’s an extra person on the plane, and no one can figure out which of you isn’t supposed to be here. A freak storm nearly causes your plane to crash. And when you arrive on the island, instead of a bustling tourist resort, you find . . . nobody. Eerie in the extreme, but also kind of tempting since you’ve got a huge resort stocked with food and booze, nice rooms, beaches and pools, and a fun group to hang out with. Only, how long can you have fun before the strangeness of the situation begins to have larger repercussions? And will you be able to find the clues you need and make the choices you have to in order to survive?

Endless Summer is another choose-your-own-adventure style visual novel that’s playable through the Choices app. And the first thing I have to say is, quite simply, play it. It’s a lot of fun, it’s well thought out, and it’s engaging. The art style is unique and in many places quite beautiful–especially the island scenery, of which there is a lot. This story is largely character driven, and they manage to create characters who are interesting and fun to interact with. Of note, a lot of what goes on in this story is driven by your relationships with the other characters, and those relationships are impacted by your prior choices. So choose wisely. The initial plot lands you on this seemingly deserted island with a group of fellow students, but the plot quickly spirals in an ever-expanding whirlpool of mysteries, time travel, strange people, and evil plots that somehow manages to remain unified and coherent in spite of the strange paths it takes. I also feel the need to note that this story is absolutely rife with geeky and pop-culture references–not that you can’t play without a good knowledge of these, but stuff is definitely going to go over your head. Personally, I thought this aspect of the character development was absolutely marvelous. The sole reason I don’t rate this visual novel a 5 of 5–and this is significant–is that a lot of major choices and story paths require diamonds (i.e. real money, in most instances). It’s possible to play, enjoy, and complete the story without spending any real cash–I did it and had a blast doing so. But you should know going in that there are lots of major things you just aren’t going to be able to do, or you should go ahead and purchase a set limit of diamonds before going in, if you choose to spend anything . . . otherwise the spending is just going to get out of hand. But despite that, I would highly recommend Endless Summer to anyone looking for a fun choose-your-own-adventure story that’s a bit off the beaten path.

 

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The Color of My Words

Author: Lynn Joseph

Ana Rosa has spent the entire twelve years of her life in her small village in the Dominican Republic. She loves her Mami who cares for her and knows secrets about her that no one else does. She loves her Papi, even though he confuses and sometimes frightens her with his drinking and dreaming. And she loves her siblings, especially her big brother Guario who works hard for the family but who also guards secret dreams. What most people don’t know is that Ana Rosa also loves words. Every day she climbs up into her favorite gri gri tree and looks out on the world around her–her family, neighbors, her beautiful island, and the sea which speaks peace to her–and as she looks, she is flooded with the poetry of it all, with words longing to escape onto a page. Only, putting words on paper is dangerous in her country, and so she keeps her passion for words a secret as long as she can.

When I picked up The Color of My Words, I really didn’t know what to expect. What drew me initially was the lush colors on the cover; what kept me reading was the equally lush content. The setting is richly described both through the prose and through Ana Rosa’s poems which are scattered between chapters. And the political and cultural flavor of the place pervades the story, but is skillfully expressed so that what is shown is what a twelve-year-old would typically perceive. The character of Ana Rosa is interesting, as are the people around her. Also, the story hits a pivotal point in her life, such that the plot deals with a number of truly significant and universal issues in a way that is touching and insightful. Truly, I think The Color of My Words deserves a great deal more attention than it has received–you should check it out.

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Bloody Jack

Author: L. A. Meyer

Tired of begging, stealing, and scrounging for enough food to survive on the streets of early nineteenth-century London, Mary Faber decides she’s had enough. So she signs on to the crew of the good ship HMS Dolphin–as a ship’s boy! Her good nature and good luck stand her in good stead–along with a few skills like reading and sewing that she learned before her family died and she was cast onto the streets. Rather, she excels a bit too much, particularly with her own natural fondness for being in the center of things. Such attention is not beneficial when you’re trying to deceive everyone into believing you’re a boy. Still, Mary–who goes by the name of Jacky now–succeeds in keeping her gender a secret, a true challenge in cramped quarters while undergoing puberty. Even harder when also falling in love with someone in those cramped quarters!

Bloody Jack is just what a historical novel ought to be. It provides a good feel for the time period and location, but doesn’t harp on details unnecessarily. Rather, it lets the characters (who are beautiful creations) get on with it and show the setting in the way they live. I love the first-person storytelling, which portrays Jacky’s character strongly; the accent and vocabulary are definitely present but not distracting–and the author even goes to the extent of pointing out that the accent’s stronger when Jacky’s upset and then showing that, but very subtly. Very artfully done. The plot is fairly basic–what would logically happen if a girl disguised herself as a ship’s boy in this time period–but the characters are so beautifully written that they carry this plot far beyond its humble beginnings. Jacky in particular is intriguing in her normalcy: she is cowardly, street-smart but common, lucky but unnecessarily fond of attention, always seeking the smoothest road, yet somehow charming in spite of her faults. I would definitely recommend Bloody Jack to anyone who likes a good historical story, although I would warn that it’s somewhat PG13 in places.

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