I absolutely adore reading - my love for books has had a huge impact on my life! I'm going to grad school to be a children's/YA librarian.
Four children separated by vast distances all undergo the same ritual, watched by cloaked strangers. Four flashes of light erupt, and from them emerge the unmistakable shapes of incredible beasts - a wolf, a leopard, a panda, a falcon. Suddenly the paths of these children - and the world - have been changed for ever. Enter the world of Erdas, where every child who comes of age must discover if they have a spirit animal, a rare bond between human and beast that bestows great powers to both. A dark force has risen from distant and long-forgotten lands, and has begun an onslaught that will ravage the world. Now the fate of Erdas has fallen on the shoulders of four young strangers ...and on you. (source)
I read this book for my class on Technology in the Lives of Children and Youth. The format of the book is really interesting. This is part of a set of various book series released from Scholastic which involve kids reading a chapter book and then playing an online interactive game which goes along with the story. This is a cool example of multi-format literature!
As for the story itself, I thought it had potential, but was not very well-executed. I wasn't very impressed by the author's writing style - I actually found it kind of boring and unremarkable. Language was simple, which is typical of children's literature, but the lack of variety in word choice irritated me. Also, the chapters were very repetitive, especially the first four, which discussed how each of the main characters received his or her spirit animal. World building was not particularly well-done, either. I felt that a lot of background information was missing and that we were kind of thrown in the middle of the story.
As for the gaming component, it can be accessed online through a code that's given in each of the books. Kids can create an avatar and choose a spirit animal for it and then roam through the fictional land of Erdas trying to save spirit animals, while interacting with other players. I think that kids would really like this game; however, the controls took a while for me to learn (could easily have been because I am not a huge video game player, though) and there was definitely a bit of a delay, probably because there were so many people using the server. These are design flaws that I think should be worked on in future games like this one. Additionally, I would have preferred for there to be more of a tie-in with the text. As it was, the game went along with the book, but could easily have been played without having read the book, and the book could be read without ever playing the game. I think it would be cool for the two to be more immersed with each other - maybe read a chapter, then complete a quest in order to go on to the next chapter, or vice versa.
Ultimately, I think that this book/gaming model is a really awesome concept that could potentially encourage reluctant readers to read more. However, I don't believe that this particular book carries out the idea as well as it could have. I would like to read more books that play on this concept and see if this is typical, or if there are others that are better executed. I know that there's a YA series by Scholastic that's written in part by Cassandra Clare and I'm really interested in seeing what that's like - I'm actually thinking of getting it for my sister for Christmas, as she's a huge fan of Clare's other series.
What do you think, Booklikes friends? Do you have any interest in reading books that have a gaming component? Do you think this could be a major part of the future of literature?