Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Meanwhile: Pick Any Path. 3,856 Story Possibilities. (Top Ten Great Graphic Novels for Teens) Hardcover – March 1, 2010
|New from||Used from|
The Amazon Book Review
Discover what to read next through the Amazon Book Review. Learn more.
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
From School Library Journal
Grade 4–6—Shiga introduces readers to a whole new technique of reading comics. Jimmy must decide if he wants chocolate or vanilla ice cream. That's the first choice readers face in order to determine the fate of the world in this "Choose Your Own Adventure" style graphic novel. Rather than reading panels left to right, color-coded tubelike lines send children in the direction the panels should be read, from right to left/left to right, up to down/down to up, and flipping backwards to pages rather than going forward. Tabs on the edge of the pages help move the tubes along, directing readers to which page to read next. If a tube splits into two paths from a panel, readers then must choose which scenario to follow. Illustrations are drawn in ink, with color overlay. The text is clearly written by hand and will be easily deciphered by readers. Seasoned graphic-novel fans will be entertained by selecting scenarios throughout this action-packed book while developing problem-solving skills. Thousands of story possibilities will guarantee them a different experience each time they pick up this book. However, some readers may have to run their finger along the tube lines to keep track of their place in the story's path, as some of them can be quite long or zigzagged.—Janet Weber, Tigard Public Library, OR
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
*Starred Review* In this graphic-novel mind boggler, Shiga blows the choose-your-own-adventure concept out of the water. Readers play the role of little Jimmy and on the first page make the seemingly innocuous decision of ordering a vanilla or chocolate ice-cream cone. Tubes connect panels in all directions and veer off into tabs to other pages, creating a head-spinningly tangled web of a story (well, stories; the book claims to have 3,856 different possibilities). The crux is that Jimmy stumbles into the lab of an affable mad scientist and is allowed to tinker with three inventions: a mind reader, a time machine, and the Killitron, which obliterates all life on earth aside from the user’s. Jimmy’s carefree fiddling with the three devices isn’t merely a way to lead readers through the subsequent head trip of an adventure; it’s also just about the perfect kid-friendly initiation to the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics (no, really), in which each decision and action split reality into distinct parallel universes. It’s unfathomably, almost unreasonably complex. Given this book and a distraction-free hour or two, readers will either end up looking like Jimmy on the cover—clutching their skulls in googly-eyed exasperation—or will arrive at a nifty new way of looking at reality. It’s maddening and challenging, all right, but that’s precisely what makes it so crazy fun. Grades 4-9. --Ian Chipman
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Top Customer Reviews
I haven't read, let alone bought, a comic or graphic novel since I was in junior high. That's quite a long time. But, I do listen to reviews of comics so I know some of the basics on what's out there. While watching one of said reviews, I saw this little gem. I was immediately intrigued when I heard "choose your own path," "time-travel," "entropy," and "alternate dimensions." How can a sci-fi fan resist?
So, I promptly picked this up, and I am so very glad I did. I've read through the adventure at least ten times, now. I still haven't gotten the single successful ending. I'm okay with that, I don't mind reading through again and again.
The (I want to call it a game, but...) book starts with a simple choice of chocolate or vanilla ice cream, which quickly becomes the choice between total annihilation, mind reading, and time travel. Don't let those big concepts turn you away, though, as it is easy for anyone to understand.
The book is hardbound with plastic coated pages (you'll be turning them a lot as you read it over and over). The pages are not sequential. You don't start at page one and go to the end. From page one, you go to the back, then the middle, back, front, back, middle, etc. Each page has a couple different parts of the story on it, but when you read the part you are on, you follow a tube out to the edge of the page which then matches to a tab with the continuation of the tube on it. You flip to that page and continue following the tube to the part of the story you are on. If it sounds confusing, it is not.
You may think that your eyes will wonder and you will "read ahead" by seeing parts of the story that you are not currently on, but the book is laid out in such a manner that that won't happen. There are false pages and cells to keep you from doing just that. There are even "secret" codes within the story that you need to be able to follow certain paths, and the only way to get them is to follow the right path to them. You can't just happen to glimpse the code on a page that you were reading, as the book is set up to prevent that.
The work that went into creating this book must have been taxing, but I am glad they did. Pick this up and read it, you will love it.
Jimmy walks into an ice cream shop. He makes his decision. Either Jimmy chooses vanilla or he chooses chocolate. From that decision, you see two Jimmys now. The vanilla Jimmy storyline suddenly develops a line that you must follow to a tab. Open the book to that tab and you see the result of his decision. Follow the line and tab that connect to the other ice cream flavor, and suddenly you're plunged into an intense storyline. Jimmy meets and befriends a local inventor who has come up with three objects. There's the time machine, the SQUID which can transfer memories, and the appropriately named Killitron that can either kill everyone in the world not inside of it or make delicious ice cream. Jimmy decides which of the three to play with and along the way discovers a horrific story behind not just the inventor's life, but his own as well.
There are plenty of impressive blurbs on the back of the book to ogle. There's one from Scott McCloud and one from Gene Luen Yang. Fine cartoonists, the both of them. However, I was delighted to find that those quotes were paired with blurbs from two authors that I read consistently and without cease as a child. R.A. Montgomery and Edward Packard are two of the writers behind those old "Choose Your Own Adventure" books of my youth. The books were notable, not just because they created a fun new format and way of reading children's literature, but also because they weren't afraid to kill the reader in a variety of grizzly ways. Usually the books were written in the second person, telling "you" exactly what "you" were up to and allowing "you" to either make the right choices or the ones destined to lead to your own mangled corpse. I appreciated that as a kid. Made the stories a little more serious for me. There was a darkness to them. A darkness that is perfectly replicated in Shiga's own book. I mean talk about a story that is not afraid to kill off its main character or, for that matter, every last human being on the planet.
Let's put everything into context here. The book is written by a guy who graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with a degree in pure mathematics. On the publication page you'll find a note that explains how the book was worked out. There were some difficulties coming up with the outline for the story. However, "With the use of a V-opt heuristic algorithm running for 12 hours on an SGI machine, the solution was finally cracked in the spring of 2000." The book would be completed a year and a half later. If your eyes started to glaze over while reading that, you're not alone. What I love about this, though, is that what you have here is a true children's book making use of math. Do you know how hard it is to find such books? Recently the only other math-minded text I've seen for kids was The Unknowns: A Mystery by Benedict Carey. Also, I should note, an Abrams publication. Abrams likes it some math, apparently. In any case, a love of letters rather than numbers isn't an impediment to enjoying this book. But for those with a penchant for figures, the byline on the cover that reads, "Pick any path. 3,856 story possibilities," will prove especially tantalizing.
Then there's the quantum physics, parallel worlds, probability, and entropy I alluded to earlier. All these concepts are here. I wouldn't use "Meanwhile" as a lesson plan necessarily, though in the hands of the right teacher I think a lot of these concepts could be taught quite painlessly. Shiga's story works in tandem with its format. The theory that every choice we make splits off into a universe where we did one thing and a world where we did the opposite has never been brought to life as brilliantly as it is here. I loved the Choose Your Own Adventure format, but there wasn't a book amongst them that questioned the very nature of choosing and choices like Shiga does. This guy's gonna blow a few minds.
About those 3,856 story possibilities . . . I think that technically that number is correct. However, for much of that time you're going to find yourself traveling in circles. Circles that become increasingly frustrating as you continue to whirl through them. You can get out with concentration, but I wonder how many folks will be willing to do that after reading the same lines for the 30th time. Eventually readers will just start reading the book straight through out of sheer frustration, and even for that move Shiga has prepared accordingly. There is one two-page spread of Jimmy riding a giant squid. If you look closely at it, you'll realize that these are the only two pages in the book without tabs to lead you there. The only way to even find it is to cheat. Pretty sneaky, Shiga.
There is one significant difference between this book and an old Choose Your Own Adventure novel. With CYOA, the reader would constantly leave their fingers stuck in the book to go back to previous turning points so that if they made the wrong decision they wouldn't have to begin at square one all over again. "Meanwhile" makes this second guessing technique impossible. It's not just the colored tabs. It's the fact that a storyline will sometimes go to a page and then zip through it to yet another tab, leaving the reader utterly baffled if they try to backtrack. There is no backtracking in this book, you see. All decisions are final. For good or for ill.
Admittedly, not everything works here. There's a whole "populating the earth" storyline that I won't go into here that doesn't make a lick of sense. There are some interesting takes on time travel that sort of play fast and loose with the rules. And, as I said before, there's the frustration you feel when you get caught in a circle and feel like you can't get out.
That said, this is also one of the bravest books I've read, marketed to small fry. It's not afraid to make them think. How do our choices affect our lives? In this book you can make Jimmy physically go one way or another and see how things could have changed had he made a different decision. And from there, it's a small step to thinking about your own life and the choices you face in your own everyday experiences. It may be a choice as mundane as choosing chocolate or vanilla ice cream, but for something so basic it's fascinating to look at how even the smallest decision can affect the rest of your life. That's a tall order for such a slim book. It is, without a doubt, one of the most original titles I've ever encountered.
Ages 10 and up.
It's a choose-your-own adventure comic book - and even cooler than it sounds, if such a thing is possible.
I have to admit, if I saw Meanwhile in the bookstore, I would have picked it up, not understood it, and walked out without buying it...and my son would have missed out on this great reading experience. Not only did he really enjoy this book, but it has opened him up to comic books and graphic novels - something he had no interest in before!
The story is hysterical, the pages feel really neat to the touch (you'll see what I mean), and the artwork is colorful and engaging.
The Kid's Review:
My favorite part of the book was when Jimmy saw him self from ten minutes ago in the bathroom and threw a book at him. I recommend this book to my friends because it's funny and action-packed.