We review Iain Pears’ Arcadia for iOS, an app version of the British author’s latest novel where you choose your own path through the story.
Technology hasn’t just made books more accessible, via services such as the Kindle Store and Audible. It’s also allowing authors to innovate like never before, producing all-new experiences that help to immerse and involve readers.
Iain Pears’ new novel Arcadia is the latest tome to be given the app treatment, allowing you to read through in an interactive fashion.
The idea is rather simple: Arcadia’s story is split into a number of intersecting arcs, each following one of the ten main characters. You choose one path to take and then the plot unfolds from that character’s viewpoint. At times your chosen character will meet up with the rest of the cast members, but you can’t go off and follow an alternative route until you’ve read all of that character’s preceding chapters. In this way, you’re encouraged to go back to the beginning and choose another arc to reveal more of the story, which you can do at any time.
Sure, it’s a gimmicky approach, but this interactive choose-your-own-adventure style means that every reader can enjoy the book in their own way. Not too enamoured by a particular character? Just return to the start and choose another.
If anything, we’d have liked more interactivity and adaptability. For instance, crossover chapters involving more than one character read the same for each cast member, which doesn’t always work too well.
Still, Arcadia is an interesting and occasionally fantastical and surrealistic tale that had us interested despite its gentle pace. Here’s hoping it paves the way for lots more interactive fiction on the App Store.