Don’t be afraid to be bad.
How to be Bad ― Michael La Ronn
Michael La Ronn made the decision to pursue a writing career in 2012, after recovering from a potentially life threatening illness. The realisation that he had come so close to death inspired him to turn his writing, which he refers to as his ‘true passion’, into a full-time job. La Ronn’s goal as a writer is to entertain; he says that reading should be a journey with the potential to take you to unexpected places. His signature works are Decision Select™ Novels, which are essentially choose your own adventure novels specially written for an adult audience. The first of these, How to Be Bad, was published in early 2014.
In How to be Bad the reader fills the shoes on Bebe McFerrin, a budding young attorney and professional pushover. Bebe has the confidence of a gnat, rendering her susceptible to the manipulation of her co-workers. The reader is introduced to Bebe, on the most important day of her life so far, having her promotion stolen by a co-worker, and what does she do? Nothing, she sit’s and takes it. That is until she meets Ladouche, a demon with a taste for revenge, who promises her total immunity from any evil deed, giving her the opportunity to wipe the smile from her colleague Anette’s face once and for all. As Bebe’s life enters the hands of the reader she finally gets her revenge, binding her to a contract with Ladouche she did not know existed and Bebe is forced to steal the souls of three innocent people.
When I was younger I loved the Goosebumps choose your own adventure books, so I was immediately interested when La Ronn asked me to read his new novel, and I was not disappointed. Overall, I had a great time; it was so much fun experimenting with a book of this type made specifically for adults. The choices were a more complicated than in those books designed for a younger audience, some of it is actually based on your ability as a reader, your general knowledge, and ability to navigate certain situations – I liked this a lot.
Each possible story only takes about an hour to read, and as I’m sure those of you who have read these books before can appreciate they are more of a holiday read than anything else. I think it would be make a good book to read on a long journey, or a lazy afternoon when you have a few hours to kill. I enjoyed reading it a few times to see how the endings changed.
I think the message I took from the story is that it might not be a very good idea to place much faith in the promises of a demon. But of course the outcome will change depending on the choices a reader makes, so you might find you take something different away. I do think the text says something about people who let themselves get walked over, you shouldn’t be afraid ‘be bad’ every now and then to get what you want. If Bebe could learn to do things for herself every now and then, and be a bit less conscientious things might turn out better for her.
The one issue I have with the book is that there are a few formatting problems. I noticed that some of the outcomes did not quite fit with the choices I made. I’ve no doubt these are supposed to be different and I have relayed the issues back to the author and he is in the process of working them out.
I like reading things which are a little different and this definitely ticked a few boxes for me. Like I said before it’s not the most thought-provoking piece I’ve ever read, but it’s what you expect a choose your own adventure to be. The book is well written, fast paced, and entertaining, and I think Ladouche is a really great character, even if he is a bit of a douche. I would recommend How to be Bad to those who were fans of choose your own adventure novels as children, or those who, like me, appreciate things which have a little individuality and flair.
Many thanks to Michael La Ronn for proving me with a free review copy of the book.