The plot of this serviceable crime caper stretches across the city of Berlin to a remote island off Germany's North Sea coast called Sylt. But all of the real action is supposed to take place online, where readers are encouraged to comment on the story they're experiencing through direct links to Facebook. Such detours may strike them as totally natural, or they could have the opposite effect, as they constantly wrench readers out of the story. The makers of this interactive "Frankbook," however, have a daring way of dealing with this potential problem by effectively extending the storybook world out into the digital realm. At this 21st-century nexus, it now becomes possible for readers to meet up with the author and discuss how things are progressing, as well as to connect with one of his characters living an alternate reality somewhere in cyberspace. In this case, the accessible character from the book is Kristina—the aforementioned "girl" in this action-oriented noirish drama filled with lots of tough talk and hard looks from the wrong end of a gun. Clickable photos and YouTube videos also help to knock down the traditional walls of storytelling and let the novel's gritty atmosphere bleed into the "real" world. The success of all of this, of course, largely depends on a compelling story. And this one, with its rough, angular narrative, does a good-enough job of keeping readers engaged. The app's true potential, however, is also contingent on the actual story’s popularity. If no one else is reading to find out if Kristina and her beau, Malik, escape their murderous pursuers, then there's little online conversation to be had and even less for the author to react to.
An intriguing attempt to integrate digital technology with time-honored storytelling chops.