Feb 12, 2009: J.B.’s NYC Internet Adventure is a rollicking, fine read – taking yours truly (an alien to America) through New York’s best landmarks and tourists attractions. I wonder now how much of it was written for education vs. fun, but I admit that it’s a rather good piece for (American) students who want to learn more about New York, and about their country in general.
The story introduces you to a bunch of kids – Jake, Stella, Marcus and Stanley, who, along with their parents, live with their Grandma Jackie at West 56th street over the holidays. They visit their Aunt Miriam at the Happy Trails Nursing Home, and she gives them a bunch of poems to help them find her ‘treasure’. It’s a rather normal setup for a children’s book, and as the kids go around New York with their Uncle’s driver (who’s called Winston – try to keep up) they attach each of the poems to a building in the city’s urban core. You, dear reader, follow them as they do kid things and have fun and attempt to figure out (when they’re not having fun or doing cute kid things) Aunt Miriam’s clues.
The writer attempts to add interactivity to the story by telling you to figure out the clues on your own – before the kids do – but by and large I was never very motivated to stop reading and to Google them up. I rather think that was because there wasn’t much emotional involvement with the characters of the story – I didn’t really care whether or not they found Aunt Miriam’s treasure. I also wasn’t compelled to stick around to see how the story ended, had I not been writing a review. But, to be fair, this work was written for kids, and I bet they’ll enjoy it much more than I do.
The one major problem that I have with Internet Adventure, however, is the presentation. Large portions of the ebook are written in garish coloured fonts, and it really isn’t in the writer’s best interests to slap a reader in the face with shocking pink text. There’s also the fact that most of the work is written in the fantastically ugly Comic Sans – a font I’ve always thought should be burned in hell – and several other sub-headings are done up in frightening hand-script ones and highlighted by vomit green or electric yellow.
Aesthetics aside, there’s also the question of the ‘Adventure Links’ scattered all throughout the work. These links really aren’t necessary. I attempted to click on a few at the start of the story, but after awhile I figured out that they’re not of any use – for example, one link entitled ‘scary look’ linked to a Youtube video of a woman who could push out her eyeballs. Which was all very nice and very funny (in a meta-media kind of way), but in the context of a children’s book, and not even a experimental postmodernist one at that, there’s not much use for them. The linked text also annoy me to no end when I’m reading – there is this very established Internet habit for users to hover over links, or to trip up over them, while they’re reading. And one of the basic tenets of Internet writing is to never, ever, overuse links in prose – they’re just a huge distraction otherwise.
So who do I recommend J.B.’s NYC Internet Adventure? I’d recommend it to kids, or to parents who want to keep their kids quiet on the computer for a little while. For that purpose, at least, Internet Adventure excels. For the rest of us – for the Internet savvy, the typophile, or the average adult reader – stay away. There are better works to spend your time on out there.
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