Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Review - The Exquisite Corpse Adventure (DNF)

The Exquisite Corpse Adventure
by Jon Scieszka, Katherine Paterson, Kate DiCamillo, Susan Cooper, Gregory Maguire, Patricia C. McKissack, Fredrick L. McKissack, Shannon Hale, Natalie Babbitt, Megan McDonald, Steven Kellogg, Lemony Snicket, M. T. Anderson, Linda Sue Park & Jack Gantos
illustrated by Chris Van Dusen, James Ransome, Calef Brown, Timothy Basil Ering & Steven Kellogg
Date: 2010
Publisher: Read.gov
Reading level: MG
Book type: illustrated prose novel
Pages: 278
Format: e-book
Source: The Exquisite Corpse Adventure

Ever heard of an Exquisite Corpse? It's not what you might think. An Exquisite Corpse is an old game in which people write a phrase on a sheet of paper, fold it over to conceal part of it and pass it on to the next player to do the same. The game ends when someone finishes the story, which is then read aloud.

Our "Exquisite Corpse Adventure" works this way: Jon Scieszka, the National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, has written the first episode, which is "pieced together out of so many parts that it is not possible to describe them all here, so go ahead and just start reading!" He has passed it on to a cast of celebrated writers and illustrators, who must eventually bring the story to an end.

Every two weeks, there will be a new episode and a new illustration. The story will conclude a year from now. To get bi-weekly updates with new Exquisite Corpse Adventure chapters, click on the subscribe link at the top of the page. "This story starts with a train rushing through the night...." No one knows where or how it will end!

(synopsis from Goodreads)

DNF @ 51%

I started this one back in April, and read it into May. It's everything you'd expect a book written by committee to be: disjointed, silly, and forced. Some of the installments are better than others, and I chalk that up to the writing ability of the various authors. There are some powerhouses here. Unfortunately, the format is really limiting. If the previous author writes you into a corner, you have no choice but to try to get out of it. This leads to some situations that feel really unnatural, and things just don't flow.

The idea is neat, but this is just way too long. I got just over halfway, and then the authors started to repeat... but the story was just spinning its wheels. I wish the premise had been beefed up in the beginning so the subsequent authors didn't have to try to salvage what little ridiculous plot they could when it came time for their turn.

I was making notes on the individual chapters as I went, but... now that I've DNFed, they're pretty irrelevant. If you want to check this one out, you can (it's free to read online, after all), but don't go in with high expectations. This reads more like a middle-school group assignment for a creative writing class than anything else.

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