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Pride and Prejudice
Jane Austen, Anna Quindlen

Who Killed John F. Kennedy?

Who Killed John F. Kennedy? - Justin Sewell, Michael  Schaub, Paul Stranger Lose Your Own Adventure? That's right! There's no winning this perfect parody and honest homage to the Choose Your Own Adventure franchise, and yet, losing has never been so much fun!

Though Who Killed John F. Kennedy? has all the cynicism of a Despair.com product and the humor (pop culture references pop up like little joy nuggets) has a modern sensibility in which the absurdity of life abounds, the narrative style is a screeching home-run shot into the centerfield bleachers of those classic CYOAs penned by their creator Edward Packard and his posse of fellow writers.

A superb effort (and apparently a good deal of money) was poured into a book full of great illustrations drawn just like the old CYOAs. I particularly love that the illustrator took on the pseudonym "Paul Stranger" (so many of the original CYOAs were illustrated by Paul Granger) so as not to end up on CIA, Mafia, Freemason or NASA hit lists.

Yes, it's clear they did their research, but not only of Packard's baby, but also of the JFK assassination. Because I came to this as a reader with more of an interest in the book's nostalgic value rather than its potential enlightening qualities on a historic tragedy (come on, is anyone expecting to unearth new JFK assassination facts here?) I was quite surprised at how carefully interwoven were the true-life details. Perhaps the book would've been just as successful without all the minute details, but with them it lifts Who Killed John F. Kennedy? to a whole other level of excellence.

The following are four of the adventures I went on in the role of a teen boy detective. If you believe you may one day read this, and I highly suggest you do, perhaps you may not want to continue reading this review, for here be Spoilers...

1) I followed after Dr. Nera Vivalzi (a nod to one of Packard's recurring characters), because ...well... va-va-va-voOOM! In my efforts to steal evidence I got Vivalzi killed by a cop with mob ties.

2) Went in to interrogate Oswald. Investigated and attempted to unveil former contact FBI had with Oswald, but Hoover smeared me as a nancy-boy, so I got beat up at school, which put me in traction for a year.

3) Sat in on the line-up farce where witness-to-an-officer's-shooting-death, Mrs. Markham, is coerced into picking Oswald. Had doubts about staying on the case. Wet my bed. Took the bullet shot by Jack Ruby meant for Oswald and died. Frankly, this might be the best possible ending this book has to offer, so yay me!

4) Followed after Dr. Nera Vivalzi, because ...well... ah-oOO-GAH!!! I jumped into her car and she asked that I wear a blindfold, but I refused (what was I thinking?!). Instead, I team up with that smart-aleck kid detective nemesis of mine, Jenni Mudd. We check out the book depository. Then in an unexpected twist I make it to first base with Jenni, only to discover she's doing it to protect the FBI. I'm kidnapped and given a lobotomy.