By Celeste Inez Mathilda
64 pages, 8.5x5.5 inches.
$4 / trades / PWYC
In the interest of transparency I must state up front - I LOVE CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE.
(For those of you who might not remember Choose Your Own Adventure books are those in which you are instructed to choose between two or more options at the bottom of a page, then you turn to the indicated page number to continue reading).
The original series is very close to my heart - my last project was a live interactive documentary about the books that inspired a generation*. I have a collection of hundreds and hundreds of books and zines that have used the 'Turn to page...' structure familiar to every Choose Your Own Adventure reader - everything from popular culture to parody.
This is all by way of saying - you can imagine my response when Celeste emailed to ask if I'd be interested in reviewing this zine!
Consent is an hugely important topic, particularly in a climate where actions of those not given consent often go unpunished, and are often not punishable. Despite the potential heaviness of the themes the writing in If You're Into It! has wit and a lightness of touch, and uses some of the tropes of Choose Your Own Adventure to good effect - particularly if you choose to follow a situation that ends badly.
If you're into it! uses a gender free central character, you - much in the same way Edward Packard conceived of his original books. Taking it further, Celeste expands that fluidity to every other character you meet too. Setting up the story as an 'erotic, or not' adventure gives the narrative drive and anticipation, but using the decision making of the reader to explore different facets of consent I think really works - coupling desire with awareness of others. (It stands directly in opposition to the reprehensible Behind Closed Doors for example, another choose your own style 'erotic' adventure but in which you can live out your fantasy of being raped by clowns. No, I. Kid. You. Not.)
There are more zines planned in this series that overlap with the story started in this issue. I'm interested to see what other avenues of consent are pursued - many of which have the potential to be more subtle, serious, or complex.
If you're into it! is really well executed, handled with humour and understanding - go support!
Buy a copy via Etsy: etsy.com/listing/476189444/if-youre-into-it-episode-1-hit-the-dance
Or contact ofcourseyoucandistro [at] gmail [dot] com
*One of the lasting outcomes of that project was becoming friends with Edward Packard - the originator of Choose Your Own Adventure - who at 86 is still writing and creating. His latest book It's a Miracle It Wasn't Worse, published this month, is a memoir throughout which he considers the consequences of choice and the ramifications of not actively choosing but coasting.
Review by Nathan Penlington