Digital distractions—many of them tangential, at best, to the story—have been positively shoveled into this “multi-touch edition” of Britain’s 2013 Carnegie Medal winner.
The actual story is set in an alternate Britain under the boot of an authoritarian Motherland and narrated by Standish, a bullied, dyslexic teenager who exposes a much-ballyhooed moon landing as a hoax. Adjustable of font size and also presenting different views in portrait and landscape orientation, the enhanced e-book is festooned with dozens of thumbnail images and icons in the margins. Tapping these activates extras that include video clips of the author vaunting her own dyslexia (“the greatest gift you’ve ever been given”), her troubles at school or a nearly 10-minute inspirational “speech for losers.” There are also dramatically read snippets from the text, writing prompts, review quizzes, original video shorts, and slide shows on topics such as recent civil wars or outbreaks of genocide. Photos of historical documents and skeletal constructs representing a sinister “leather coat man” mingle with Crouch’s original line drawings (presented separately here and also as a disturbing stop-motion animation) of a dead rat filling up with maggots. All of this added material, interesting as it may be, makes it nigh impossible either to follow the already-chronologically-jumbled plotline or to be caught up for more than a few moments at a time in Standish’s mordant, often lyrical narrative.
Bonus content aplenty, but first-time readers will be better off with either the print or the unadorned e-book version. (afterword, with links and more imbedded video) (Enhanced e-book/science fiction. 12-15)