Complete the quest cover page

Review of Complete the Quest: The Poisonous Library!

Complete the Quest: The Poisonous Library by Brian McLachlan is a choose-your-own-adventure style graphic novel that prompts readers to make impactful choices, roleplay different characters, and go on an epic adventure with lots of twists and turns!

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What is Complete the Quest: The Poisonous Library about?

Complete the Quest: The Poisonous Library is about a group of adventurers, controlled by the reader, who are on a quest to help cure the queen after she was influenced by a corrupted book!  Explore, puzzle, and quest your way across the land as you collect items needed to break the queen’s curse AND stop others from being corrupted in a similar manner.

Complete the quest gorgon art

On our adventure, we faced a rolling, spherical tomb in the desert, a gorgon, and dark librarian, and along the way, we made friends with a rockin’ bard and got a whole bunch of awesome magical items (that came in VERY handy later in the adventure).  I read through different scenarios, but in the playthrough with my kid, we only saw about half the book in this one go!  Because your story is highly dependent on the choices that you make, it can give a different adventure every time you play!  When you play, expect different events and some great surprises!

Who would Complete the Quest: The Poisonous Library be good for?

Complete the Quest: The Poisonous Library would be great for grade school and middle grade kids to read on their own, or for younger kids to read with some help from a grownup.  

The themes and adventures in the story are geared at kids – there is some peril and fighting, but there’s also alternative options available, and it covers a lot of great topics to discuss with kids and even teens.  

Because it is a book, there is quite a bit of (very fun) reading that is accompanied by some great art, making it an excellent gateway into literature for kids who are having a hard time getting into reading or just aren’t interested in reading the books required at school.  It’s fun, it’s easy to do in small parts, and it’s engaging (my 4yo didn’t want to stop once we started… we went for over an hour at a time because he wanted to know what would happen next).  

Complete the quest inner cover images

There is also some note taking as you track additional party members and items that you’ve picked up along the way or character development tidbits from your main party.  The note taking is pretty minimal (ours was contained all in one sheet), and it helps to practice writing skills!

How Complete the Quest: The Poisonous Library engages readers in a unique way

In Complete the Quest, you make your own choices as you play and those choices have real impact on the story AND it allows a significant amount of reader/player freedom.  It doesn’t just diverge and converge every few pages and it also doesn’t have 75% of paths going to the “bad ending” either (which a lot of CYOA books are notorious for).  

When we played, we actually skirted around a bit of the main quest to go investigate a little side mission, and we found an entirely other way to solve the issues.  We weren’t punished for not sticking to the main route or trying to metagame to get the good ending.

Within those choices too, we had a lot of freedom to determine how to make those decisions.  The smaller quests that you decide to go on determine certain loot items that you find and record for your character (like a magic ice wand).  Then, when you get to a future mission, you have the option to use that specific item to problem solve a way to make the choice that you want (i.e. fighting a baddie, finding a way to trick the baddie, create another path, etc).  You may decide to go with option 3 out of the available choices, but how you get to option 3 is entirely up to you to figure out and roleplay based on the characters and items that you have. 

That is a great segway into talking about characters too.  At the beginning of the book, you choose your adventuring party from a list of options, and each one has a separate set of talents and abilities that they bring to the table.  They VERY much determine how you can address a lot of the challenges that you face in the book – if you played through twice trying to make the same choices but with a different party, your outcome would still be different.  For example, our group had a rogue who was the only person who could access a certain area in the rolling tomb, so we got a cool little bonus that affected that section and the loot we got (which affected later choices too).  

This puts A TON of power into the hands of the reader to truly create their own story with this, and love to see so many options for variation and replay value that have good, motivating reasons to try out again and again.

Our favorite parts about Complete the Quest: The Poisonous Library

My kid’s favorite part of Complete the Quest: The Poisonous Library was probably having our mage shoot lightning or use their ice wand to solve most of our problems.  He even started acting it out where one hand was his lightning hand and the other was the freezer hand and made hand motions like Spiderman to pretend to do magic with both – it was GREAT. 

Complete the quest narrator art

My kid also really liked getting to make so many choices!  He loves having us read to him, but this engaged him on a whole other level where he was able to actively change the course of the story and talk about it while we were reading and playing.  Having easy to answer prompts was a great way to get him involved and to stay interested for so long. 

For me, I loved that there were a lot of messages about inclusion and acceptance incorporated into the story and that there were so many options to choose from!  There’s options to fight, talk, or find another way in almost every instance, and paths that lean towards helping or listening to others tend to lead towards some cool rewards (like picking up an awesome bard companion). I also really liked that there was some nonbinary character representation! That wizard that my kid really liked playing used they/them pronouns!

Overall thoughts on Complete the Quest: The Poisonous Library

I thought it was a fantastic idea to combine CYOA style storytelling and graphic novels into one package, and I enjoyed how easy it was for my kid to connect to this type of book through answering questions and engaging with the art.  The illustrations were great too – it’s got a fun and bright style that I think also really helps with engagement and gives an adventurous tone to the whole tale.  Complete the Quest pulls off being an interesting CYOA story, excels as a graphic novel, and masters combine those two into one amazing experience.

Find a copy of Complete the Quest: The Poisonous Library

Complete the quest cover page

You can find a copy of Complete the Quest: The Poisonous Library at book sellers like Barnes and Noble or Amazon, or you can check your local library too (that’s where we found our copy)!

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2 thoughts on “Review of Complete the Quest: The Poisonous Library!

  1. Thanks for reviewing this book. I wouldn’t have thought to use it as a read aloud. I enjoyed coming up with character backstory, which is a skill that could be applied to a lot of picture books for more interaction.

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