Bantam, $2.25, ISBN 0-553-24963-0
Talk about a morbid start: you are a young lad exploring the mountains of Nepal when you come across the entrance of a ruined temple. You sense that the large, terrifying winged lion statue at the entrance is warning you to stay away, but of course you goes in anyway. Oops, you are now cursed, your life slowly draining away right in front of the sole occupant of the temple – a very old monk. Fortunately, you won’t be really dead, just struck by the guardian statue’s curse to be constantly reincarnated to live as an animal until the sadistic guardian is pleased that you have somehow met its standards. Sheesh, won’t it kill the guardian to just pitch a sign saying “Keep Out!”?
So yes, despite the You Are a Shark title, you are allowed to pick which animal you want to be reincarnated as. Pick lord of the air, and you’ll be an eagle. Pick lord of the land to become an elephant, while lord of the sea lets you live as a whale. You can, depending on the options, also switch form to a different animal as you go on, so yes, you do get to become a shark so the title isn’t that misleading after all.
This one isn’t bad at first, as it’s quite fun to go “Whee!” as a beast, but it doesn’t take long before you realize that you have no agency here. It doesn’t matter whether you are making a choice that you feel is rational – what happens is entirely up to the whims of Mr Packard, so an option that seems like the safe one may very well lead to a bad end anyway. You will also loop back to the same entries again and again, and after a while, you will feel like you are being played yourself. There is no meaning or purpose or even a decent story here, just Mr Packard wanting you to know that eating animals, hunting, and poaching are all bad, bad, bad and you should be ashamed of yourself for not becoming a vegan yesterday.
You Are a Shark? More like you are bored.