McElhatton is hot. This “interactive hyperfiction,” as the publisher interactively hypes her first novel, launches with a marketing campaign lauding “the first interactive novel for adults.” Astonishingly branded as a summer-reading book, PLM offers readers optional prose paths that might just take all summer to explore—at the end of chapters, the reader chooses between alternate plot lines that lead to 150 possible endings.
If you’re the kind of reader who likes, more or less, a story told in a straight line, with familiar rising action, characters who grow together, and if you need a certain stability in fictional time, you’ll quickly choose one option: early bedtime.
Others, with a taste for control, will enjoy PLM—this book is a labyrinth, well-written enough to entertain on a beach blanket, though less compelling to demanding readers than other similarly experimental books. (See Hopscotch in this month’s Dusted Off column.)
The most fascinating experiment here may be whether PLM’s marketing of interactive hyperfiction actually captures summer readers.
If yes, go to the bank.
If no, Pretty Little Mistakes will be a title of some irony.