Monday, November 17, 2014

Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography ~ review [@actuallynph @CrownPublishing]

Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography
Crown Archetype
October 14, 2014
294 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

Tired of memoirs that only tell you what really happened?

Sick of deeply personal accounts written in the first person? Seeking an exciting, interactive read that puts the “u” back in “aUtobiography”? Then look no further than Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography! In this revolutionary, Joycean experiment in light celebrity narrative, actor/personality/carbon-based life-form Neil Patrick Harris lets you, the reader, live his life. You will be born in New Mexico. You will get your big break at an acting camp. You will get into a bizarre confrontation outside a nightclub with actor Scott Caan. Even better, at each critical juncture of your life you will choose how to proceed. You will decide whether to try out for Doogie Howser, M.D. You will decide whether to spend years struggling with your sexuality. You will decide what kind of caviar you want to eat on board Elton John’s yacht.

Choose correctly and you’ll find fame, fortune, and true love. Choose incorrectly and you’ll find misery, heartbreak, and a guest stint on Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew. All this, plus magic tricks, cocktail recipes, embarrassing pictures from your time as a child actor, and even a closing song. Yes, if you buy one book this year, congratulations on being above the American average, but make that book Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography!

I loved the 'choose your own adventure' books when I was a kid. Sure, I may have cheated and either peeked  at what the path I didn't choose led to, or tried for horrible deaths, but they were fun.

While Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography is not a children's book, it is done in that same fun way. With some choices leading to horrible deaths.

Right from the start, with Neil's childhood (your childhood in NPH: CYOA) you are presented with choices as to what direction you would like his (your) life to take. Do you want a happy, well adjusted childhood? Or should hobos be present?

Each path is interesting to read about and contain the humor Harris is known along with candor, honesty and fantastic storytelling. As your life progresses, you'll learn things about yourself, Neil Patrick Harris, that you did not previously know. Either because they aren't well known or they're not at all true.

Both the format of this autobiography as well as its subject drew me to it. While I would likely have read a more traditional autobiography of Neil Patrick Harris, as well, this was so much better. The style fit the author and provided an opportunity for more things to be a part of the book than would have fit in the usual autobiography. You're able to read about the confrontation with Scott Caan while maintaining the humor.

I really appreciated all that was included in this autobiography. From his childhood, his introduction to theater, his first jobs and what came with that fame to understanding his sexuality, his family and his children, this is a very candid tale. You never feel like Harris is (or you are, as the book presents it) oversharing, but you get a fuller picture of who he is, what his life is like and what it has been like than I had imagined.

Some adult content (part of his life and his story) do make this not a kid friendly book - despite the format - but the combination of the format and the content (adult and not) make it a great read for older readers. Fans of Neil Patrick Harris or even people kind of aware of that Barney Stinson dude or who watched Doogie Howser and who liked Choose Your Own adventure books, need to get this one.

A note on format/layout: This was a really well done ebook. At the end of each chapter there were links to your possible choices. It would be easier, I imagine, to flip back and try the other path or to look for parts you missed in a print book. Using bookmarks does help, though. It also seemed that the linking was all done correctly with nothing leading to an incorrect location.

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