Bantam, $3.99, ISBN 0-553-23292-4
Underground Kingdom is clearly inspired by Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth. Here, you are an explorer of sorts who are going to descend into the Bottomless Crevasse in Greenland, deep into what seems like a strange underground world, to locate your friend Dr Nera Vivaldi. She descended into the Crevasse a year ago and was never heard from again. What will you discover in the Underground Kingdom, and more importantly, can you make it back out alive?
There are plenty of twists and turns here, with some options letting you to opt out of even going deeper into the Crevasse (of course, your adventure ends then and there). But on the whole, this is a pretty intriguing adventure with some violent and creepy bad endings that you’d never expect to find in a Choose Your Own Adventure gamebook. Then again, Edward Packard knows that kids love creepy bad endings in their stories! Finding the most complete and satisfying path is actually quite a challenge as there are many chances here to go off the main path and end up with the adventure prematurely aborted.
The illustrations in this gamebook are noteworthy in how unintentionally comical they are, though. The characters’ faces seem to be melting and the creatures of the Underground Kingdom look downright hilarious in how goofy they look. There is nothing goofy about the adventure – you can and chances are will die if you make the wrong move – so the illustrations clash jarringly with the actual tone of the adventure.
Still, this is a fun gamebook, easily one of the more memorable ones in this series.