Pop Culture | Books | 90s | 80s

The 21 Absolute Weirdest 'Choose Your Own Adventure' Novels

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Bantam Books

When we were kids, we couldn't get enough of these addictive novels that put you in the driver's seat.

Writer Edward Packard revolutionized kids' books when he wrote the first "Choose Your Own Adventure" novel, but his flagship series inspired some pretty odd titles. Here are 21 of the series' most bizarre entries:

1. Prisoner of the Ant People

Bantam Books

As you can probably guess from this insane cover, this books puts you in the middle of inter-planetary intrigue as you combat the Evil Power Master and his Ant People. "Evil Power Master?" Isn't that name a little obvious? How about the "Possibly Evil Power Master," that one adds a little intrigue to the book.

2. Supercomputer

Bantam Books

You star in this book as a bright, young computer programmer who wins a cutting-edge home computer. The shenanigans you can get into range from programming the machine to do your homework, to starting a global thermonuclear war. You know, regular kid stuff.

3. Who Killed Harlowe Thrombey?

Bantam Books

Gee, detective, do you think it's the guy on the cover who looks just like Snidely Whiplash? I don't want to jump to conclusions, but it was probably him. Besides how obvious this mystery was, should we really let middle school kids try to solve a murder?

4. Space Vampire

A pair of star pilot graduates are chased by vampires. But of course, since we're in outer space, that makes them Space Vampires!

Bantam Books

One reader gave this adventure a three-star review, because while he hoped to avoid the space vampires altogether, he says "there is no such luck for those in want of a tamer adventure!" What a shame.

5. The Reality Machine

Bantam Books

Spoiler alert: the reality machine is actually a virtual reality machine built by a shady doctor who asks you to test out his invention. Surprisingly, things don't go so well for the main character once he puts on the headset.

6. Shadow of the Swastika

Bantam Books

Should kids have a way to learn about the Holocaust and Nazis in a child-appropriate way? Probably. Is it a good idea to teach them using a Choose Your Own Adventure book where their adopted Jewish family is in mortal danger? Probably not!

7. You are a Shark

Bantam Books

Well this one is pretty self-explanatory. You. Are. A. Shark. Get it? Apparently this novel was successful enough to inspire a string of "You Are A..." spin-offs.

8. Rock and Roll Mystery

Bantam Books

Oh no! Your up-and-coming rock band's first tour is just a day away, but someone has kidnapped two of the band members? Was it another band? Anti-rock terrorists? Or maybe aliens? As fun as it sounds, a surprising number of endings feature your band-mates biting the dust.

9. Hostage!

Bantam Books

When a drug cartel kidnaps you and your classmates, it will take all of your wit and wile to escape before they release a biological weapon. Sorry kids, but America doesn't negotiate with terrorists!

10. Gunfire at Gettysburg

Bantam Books

Gamebooks like Choose Your Own Adventure novels have a reputation for being really, really hard, but this time it's well-deserved. As many as 51,000 soldiers died during this Civil War battle, and your odds aren't much better than theirs. Then again, having your hometown overrun by Confederate raiders is a pretty bleak ending.

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