Choose your own adventure books (CYOAB) might seem like a relic of the 80s and 90s, but they’re definitely still around and better than ever.
We’ve scoured the internet and pored through reviews to come up with a few of the best CYOABs out there–for kids and adults. While books are subjective by nature, we’ve found that a good CYOAB is written in your favorite genre, has a good balance between story length and number of endings, and, for convenience, comes in an eBook format.
Top 5 Best Choose Your Own Adventure Books for Adults
CYOABs may seem like they’re mostly for children, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
1. Heart of Ice (Critical IF Gamebooks)
Price: $9.26 ($0.99 for eBook)
Best for Satisfying, Conclusive Endings
This CYOAB takes place in a dystopian world 200 years in the future and follows nine heroes determined to win the Heart of Volent and gain the ability to alter reality.
Each story and ending is beautifully fleshed out, completely logical, and never leaves you feeling cheated. This book isn’t just a choose your own adventure, it’s a novel that just happens to have multiple endings.
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2. Pathogens: An Interactive Zombie Survival Gamebook
Price: $14.95 ($3.99 for eBook)
Read as a Range of Different Characters
This CYOAB has you step into the shoes of one of six characters and make choices for them that will lead you to one of 100 different outcomes where (hopefully) you survive the zombie apocalypse.
Despite the wide range of possibilities, this book still manages to incorporate compelling storytelling and world building and weaves the characters’ arcs together to make you want to go back and see how every person gets through.
|Number of Endings||100|
3. Romeo and/or Juliet: A Chooseable-Path Adventure
Price: $12.98 ($11.99 for eBook)
Best for Pragmatic Romance Fans
Did Romeo and Juliet ever frustrate you with their strings of bad decisions? Well, now you can make it right. This CYOAB allows you to take the star-crossed lovers down some pretty improbable paths and offers some serious laughs along the way.
Aside from the stories, this book also features illustrations from 80 different artists to help highlight the various endings. However, do note that each individual storyline is fairly short, though that just gives you more time to explore the rest.
|Number of Endings||100+|
4. What Lies Beneath the Clock Tower: Being An Adventure Of Your Own Choosing
Price: $4.99 for eBook
For Those Who Want to Read Every Single Possibility
In this CYOAB, you explore a steampunk version of Victorian London seemingly without a central plot–that is, until you go back, work out new endings, and find threads of connection throughout.
This book is highly detailed with characters that you’ll get to know like old friends. Although some choices will bring you to sudden endings, this book will make you want to go back and keep learning more about its world.
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5. Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography
Price: $13.21 ($2.99 for eBook)
Best Wildly Unexpected CYOAB
For those looking for something a little less traditional, it’s hard to get any weirder than a non-fiction autobiography, CYOAB-style. Then again, it is Neil Patrick Harris (actor, comedian, TV host, and all-around Cool Dude, for those not in the know).
Because it’s an autobiography, there are only so many twists and turns the story can take, leading you ultimately to just one ending. However, depending on your choices, you may (or may not) get to a few secret chapters.
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Top 5 Best Choose Your Own Adventure Books for Kids
The interactive nature of a game with the imagination of a book–what kid wouldn’t love a CYOAB?
1. Plants vs. Zombies: Plant Your Path Junior Novel
Price: $5.89 ($4.99 for eBook)
Best for Reluctant Readers
Based on the Plants vs. Zombies video game, this CYOAB lets you decide how you’re going to escape the zombies by learning about different plants and making tactical decisions.
Aimed at kids ages 6-10, this book is a great way to get kids who might be a little too screen-focused more interested in reading. It has just a few storylines, which makes it easier to go back and figure out where you went wrong.
|Number of Endings||27|
2. Treasures of the Forgotten City (Ultimate Ending)
Price: $8.99 ($0.99 for eBook)
Best Traditional Adventure
This CYOAB has you searching for the lost city of Atraharsis, fighting through traps, storms, and riddles to get there and find the hidden treasure your uncle wrote about in his journal.
While this book has one “ultimate ending,” it’s engaging enough that even if you find it early on, you’ll keep going back to see what happens in the other storylines.
|Number of Endings||26|
3. Touch the Sun (Freedom Finders)
Price: $10.68 ($8.99 for eBook)
Best for Older Kids Learning About the World
In this CYOAB, you play the role of a Somalian boy escaping civil war for freedom in Australia. Your journey takes you across a dessert, in the underdecks of a boat, and constantly in the way of danger.
This book is aimed at older children (10-14) and touch on some pretty heavy issues that aren’t suitable for younger kids but make for fantastic learning and discussion points for those who are ready.
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4. Dino Lab
Best for Early Elementary Readers
In this book, you’ve accidentally brought dinosaurs back from extinction and now need to round them up before they get into too much trouble.
This book is aimed at younger readers ages 6-8 and features easily digestible storylines and un-scary endings that make it great for practically any child.
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5. Through the Forest
Best for Young Children and Beginning Readers
This delightful CYOAB has you wandering through the forest with your guide, Mother Forest. Together you meet animals, encounter insects, and learn about nature.
This book is aimed at young children ages 4-7 and makes for a great bedtime story. It’s a fantastic way to introduce kids to the animals you’d find in a forest as well as get them interested in reading.
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How to Choose a Choose Your Own Adventure Book – Buying Guide
Just so you get an idea of what’s out there.
Not Just Mystery and Adventure–Any Genre Can Be a CYOAB
Naturally, mystery and adventure make for some of the best choose your own adventure style books, and previously, these genres have dominated the format. After all, classic CYOABs are just RPGs on paper–“You’ve escaped from the dark wizard’s dungeon and come to a room leading off into two halls…” type of stuff. These provide a healthy dose of nostalgia.
However, basically any book that could have a different ending can be turned into a CYOAB. Just imagine the possibilities when it comes to romance, for example. Didn’t like who the protagonist ended up with? Just try a different ending.
In fact, the ability to spin the plot in so many directions opens up the possibility for some serious genre-crossing that a book with just one plot path could never even hope to achieve. So, feel free to search for one in your favorite genre–you’re sure to find at least a few.
More Endings Mean More Entertainment but Shorter Stories
A huge part of the fun of CYOABs is being able to go back, make different choices, and see all your potential outcomes. Some books have just four or five different endings, while others have upwards of 100. For those looking to extend the fun for as long as possible, look for books with more endings.
It should be noted, however, that the more endings there are, the more abbreviated the storylines are likely to be as there’s less physical space for fleshed out details.
A Clickable eBook Version Makes Skipping Around a Breeze
Some people may enjoy the actual flipping around for the next parts, but for those who just want to get on with it already, an ebook version might be better.
Ebooks often let you simply click a link to skip to another page, so you to take the magician’s advice with the tap of the finger rather than having to thumb through several pages, potentially spoiling another ending for you.
Looking for More Ways the Whittle the Time Away?
Who says toys are only for kids? Below, we’ve researched some other fun activities that will keep you occupied, be you 7 or 77.
Despite the rise of other interactive forms of media, choose your own adventure books have more of a platform than ever, and the large variety of options means that there’s at least a few out there for everyone.
By Jacqueline Oshiro
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