Jeremy Zimmerman's Reviews > Thrusts of Justice

Thrusts of Justice by Matt Youngmark
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Jun 01, 12


Thrusts of Justice by Matt Youngmark plugs deep into childhood nostalgia with this choose-your-own-adventure book written for adults. Set in a unique (and slightly tongue-in-cheek) superhero universe, this book gives a laid-off journalist from Cleveland the chance to step into the role of superhero just in time to save the world from certain doom. The journalist, of course, is “you.”

The book opens with you and your fellow unemployed journalists drowning your sorrows while discussing the possibility of launching your own news website. Your drunken plans to form a startup are thrown off course when a disembodied voice warns of impending doom just before an explosion draws your attention outside. There you see a smoking crater in the middle of the street where three figures are visible. The supervillain known as the Ox has just broken through the wall of a bank with unmarked bags of cash. The dark and ominous hero known as the Nightwatchman slinks off from the scene. And at the bottom of the crater is the legendary Cosmic Guardian who had disappeared in the 90s. You know any one of these three could be a great news lead, but where could it lead?

If you like strange powers from radioactive meteorites, continue on to the next paragraph. If you like brooding antiheroes like Batman, skip to the paragraph after that. If you like interstellar police forces, like the Green Lantern Corps or the Nova Corps, continue on to the third paragraph after this.

Trying to find out what Ox is doing in Cleveland, you sneak closer to the scene of the crime. But rather than finding clues, you fall into the crater and black out. When you wake up, you have strange goo-like powers that allow you to change shape, walk on walls and hurl goo. Does great power come with great responsibility? Or a great opportunity for profit?

Trying to follow Nightwatchman leads you to one of his secret lairs. There you find Nightwatchman’s suit abandoned. Donning it, you find yourself able to pose as the dark hero. Though you lack his martial skill, you have access to his wonderful toys and can use them to figure out what happened to the real Nightwatchman.

Trying to follow the Cosmic Guardian, you find him dying. He passes on his armored superhero suit to you, Can you figure out what the Cosmic Guardian was doing? Can you figure out how to operate the suit? Can you do this before the other Cosmic Guardians catch up with you?

I went through the effort to read every branching path in the book I could. I think I got all 90 of them, but I might have missed some. The timeline and cosmology of the book remains the same throughout, it is simply the course you chart through the narrative that changes how things unfold. The story is told with a dose of snarky humor and regular nods to comic book tropes.

As said before, this is a choose-your-own-adventure book for adults. This mostly means that it uses some strong language, though nothing that you couldn’t hear on prime time television. It also has no qualms about giving the reader a hard time about some of their choices. My favorite was when you avoid being a superhero and the section opens with, “You’re reading a choose-your-own-ending book about superheroes, and immediately decide not to become one?”

All told, the book is just plain fun. I read the book through the Kindle app on my phone, which added hyperlinks and a “back” button to make navigating the different branches much easier. And, in fact, the author encourages you to do so. The primary risk I could see for readers is that they just don’t find the author that funny. I laughed pretty hard through the book, but humor is subjective and this might not appeal to everyone. The Chooseomatic website offers a free 70-page sample of Youngmark’s previous book, Zombocalypse Now, so you can decide for yourself if you enjoy the style.
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