1moredork Book Reviews - "Find Your Fate... Junior - The Transformers: Battle Drive"
Barbara and Scott Siegel
Random House Press 1985

This Find Your Fate... Junior book series is a derivative of the Choose Your Own Adventure line of youth literature. If there's one impression that Choose Your Own Adventure books left with me, it's that every decision I make is extremely important so don't fuck up. One simple dilemma is all that stand between one choosing to walk down street A and making it home safely, or walking down street B and ending up kidnapped by skinhead death cultists.

But at least one only had to worry about oneself in those books. This book takes it a step further by giving the reader the great responsibility of choosing the path of the entire Autobot army. The book also makes it very clear that this is an extremely grave responsibility. From the tagline of "Only YOU can help the Autobots defeat the Decepticons' evil plan!!!" to any of the endings, the book does not sugarcoat the fact that, ultimately, the blame lies with you if anything goes wrong.

The plot starts with the Decepticons planning to destroy all of the world's crops, thus killing off all of the humans, and thus being able to defeat the Autobots since they won't have human help any more. This doesn't seem particularly bright, since the humans mostly helped Megatron and Co. by providing a handy escape route for the Decepticons if they decided to appeal to the Autobot's foolish altruism ("You could stay here and destroy me, Optimus, but you would never dare fire your laser pistol in a crowded mall! Ha ha ha ha ha!!!"). Man, if I were an Autobot, I wouldn't spend any energy on humans. All they do is run around and scream. What have they ever done to help the Autobots? Fuckin' humans.

Oh anyways... about the book:

Consider the following possible end sequence:
"The choice you made doomed yourself and the rest of mankind to going to bed (forever) without dinner... or breakfast... or lunch... or anything"
Great, I killed off the entire world. No pressure.

Here's my personal favorite:
"The Autobots get creamed! Have you ever had Cream of Autobot?
Well, you start by makign a choice that puts Optimus Prime and his friends in plenty of hot water. Add abotu a zillion Decepticons that want to grind the Autobots into a melted mess... then let the Autobots boil under all that Decepticon fire power- and there you hvae it: Cream of Autobot. It doesn't taste very good, but then, defeat always leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.
Maybe next time you make the choices that lead to teh sweet taste of victory."
I just had to type that out when I was copying it, and even I could feel how wrong a paragraph that was, liek teh keys themselves were fighting that particular sequence of words. Jeez!

And then it goes on to further mess around with the poor reader's head. At one point the reader is given the option to write a message on the page to warn the Autobots of an upcoming ambush. Afte turning to page 35, the reader learns that the Autobots ignored your message, thinking it to be a Decepticon trap, and ironically are killed by a Decepticon trap because they ignored it. The message here: Nobody trusts you, and all your efforts will be for naught.

The line between fantasy and reality is further blurred by having the narrative jump outside this book.
"That crash you heard wasn't made by Prowl or the Decepticon attack. It was made by you, falling out of bed! You must have drifted off to sleep while you were reading. But if this is all a dream, what are you doing in this book, wearing your pajamas?"
The scary part is, I i was falling asleep in my pajamas! Now that put the fear of God into me, I tell you what!

What the hell kind of a mind-fuck is that to put on a poor little kid? Now they're going to believe this book has omnipotent powers and really does give them some sort of magical ability to direct the actions of a robot force in a another dimension. I sure believed it, and I think I'm odler than the target demographic for the Find Your Fate...Junior series of books

Not only that, it is hard! I killed Optimus and his posse 5 times before I got a remotely positive ending. The reason for this is that the decision you make are presented with totally ridiculous false dilemmas which some completely arbitrary. In one instance, standing and fighting as opposed to running to get help results in a victory. In another, it results in painful death. Going through this book is based on blind luck and not rational risk assessment.

I'm surprised that Hasbro green-lighted giving the Transformers license to this series in general and these authors in particular. I'm willing to bet that Barbara and Scott Siegel are a mother-son book-making team, with her doing the writing, and him doing the illustrations. I reckon his age to be about 8 from the drawing quality. Not to mention the fact that it breads so many aspect of the Transformers canon. For instance, in one story path Swoop destroys Megatron, which anyone who bothered to look at their respective stat cards could see would be, like, totally impossible.

The lesson I came away with from reading this is that every decision I make is life-or-death, that I can never tell what is the right decison to make, and that eventually the chances are that I will fuck up big time, but if I have the gumption and perserverance and total faith in myself, even I can get my crappy fan-fiction published.

Well, If you want a book that will give your children an enormous guilt complex, extreme paranoia, and a shaky grip on reality, but want to take a more secular path than the Bible, than Battle Drive is perfect for you.


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