Bestist Frend Jane

a Modern Adventure by TheNewIAP

Commended by mizal on 10/1/2018 6:38:56 AM

Player Rating7.06/8

"#58 overall, #5 for 2018"
based on 83 ratings since 10/12/2018
played 1,928 times (finished 70)

Story Difficulty4/8

"march in the swamp"

Play Length6/8

"It'll be a while, better grab a Snickers®"

Maturity Level5/8

"aren't you a little too old to be trick or treating"
Some material may be inappropriate for persons under age 13. If this were a movie, it would probably be PG-13.
After his best and only friend's brutal death, a seven-year-old boy sets out across the country hell-bent on fulfilling her dream. Along the way, he must overcome his deficiencies—both real and imagined—to assuage his own pain and guilt.

Winner of the 2018 EPIC Contest!

Thanks to everyone for pushing me throughout the contest so I could actually finish something for a change—especially the other contestants who were both helpful and competitive. And thanks to BradinDvorak for help with CSS.

Player Comments

Would I be the first to say that I was more moved by the epilog than the actual story?

I should begin by saying that I did enjoy the basic facts of the story, and I was deeply impressed by the amount of work that went into this. As I understand it, this was written under a tight schedule and had to meet a certain length requirement, so I don't think it would be helpful to quibble over minutiae.

However, I don't think this was the best format to tell this particular story--and I'm not referring to the storygame format here. I found this story to be way too linear for my preference. What I mean is that it started at the very beginning and ended exactly at the one spot we knew it would end all along: the Grand Canyon. So by "linear" I'm referring to chronology here, and not passing judgment on the branching; the story was straight as an arrow chronologically speaking, out of keeping with contemporary literature, and suffered in a lack of tension as a result, in my opinion.

There was page after page after page about the friendship between Billy and Jane--way more than I was led to believe by the positive reviews--and the branching didn't begin in earnest until well into the story. When the branching did begin, there did seem to be a number of well-developed story paths; I found two "false" endings before finally reaching the "prime" ending with the moving epilog, at which point I stopped reading.

I hesitate to criticize a story that is obviously personally so important to the author--assuming that the "based off a true story" isn't like the similar claim that the Coen brothers made about "Fargo."

However, I routinely got bumped out of the story because the narration was not in keeping with the age of the character. I doubt an impoverished first grade runaway would be musing over "incorporeal planes" or making references to "Lawrence of Arabia." It's been a long time since I've been that age, but a child's relationship with the world is entirely bounded by familial experiences and pop culture references.

But this young runaway seemed far too worldly; he knew the names to everything, could become reflective over a beautiful scene, and in general was aware of far too many abstract concepts. So I began skimming through entire paragraphs, simply because I found all the scenery descriptions implausible given the age of the protagonist.

Possibly, had the story been told in third person, I might have attributed all that high-level knowingness to the hypothetical omniscient narrator, not the child character. But like first person, the second person format is not omniscient, and therefore the narration should be equal to the assumed capabilities and limited knowledge of the main character.

The author may be interested in reading Emma Donoghue's "Room," a story with very adult themes told in first person by a child narrator. This is a very good example of what I mean when I say the style of the narration needs to be matched with the capabilities of the narrator. In "Room," Jack witnesses his mother getting raped on a nightly basis, but is too young to understand the implications of what he sees. We, the adult readers of the story, have to apply our own adult knowledge to understand what the child narrator cannot.

And then there is the chronology. As I was reading this story, I kept thinking how much more compelling it would be if it began on the road. There would then be this mystery of why this young child is wandering through the American Southwest, which would be revealed in stages in the form of flashbacks; events encountered on the road would prompt Billy to think back to why he's there, and so the revelation of Jane's story would unfold at the same time as the road trip... so that by the time the reader does reach [SPOILER!] the Grand Canyon on the last page of the prime ending, Jane isn't this half-forgotten character who [SPOILER!] died a brutal death 20,000 words ago.

The genre this story falls into is the "road trip" genre, along with "Thelma and Louise" and "True Grit." The tropes of this genre involve interesting characters encountered along the way who shape and direct the protagonist's journey, like boulders in a river. There are certainly many interesting and believable secondary characters in this story, although most aren't mentioned again after they exit the narrative, giving the overall story a somewhat episodic feel. Characters that are too focused on a single goal, to the extent that new circumstances and the passage of time never dim that focus. As the author points out in the epilog [SPOILER!] the real-life journey ended several states away from the destination.

The relationship between the story and the epilog reminds me of Ian McEwan's "Atonement." The ending of that book reveals the entire novel to be a fictional retelling of one main character's own life story, in which she was able to provide a happier ending to events that went horribly awry in real life. Likewise, that "author" relates how difficult it was to tell that story, despite trying for decades; telling the factual events was too painful, so creating the fictional happy ending was her atonement for causing the tragedy she couldn't undo. That revelation in the final pages of the book was one of the most devastating reading experiences I've ever had, and I detected a parallel here.

So it is not my intent to trash this story. I liked it enough to see it through to the end. But I don't think this was the story's best telling. With some tightening of the language, a reconsideration of the point of view--is Billy telling his own story from his own childlike perspective, or are we observing him from a knowing, adult distance?--and a refocusing on how the events shape and direct Billy's journey, there is the possibility of a very powerful novel here.
-- Bill_Ingersoll on 5/23/2019 8:15:55 PM with a score of 0
I’m going to start out this review with a confession.

I have a lot of feelings for this story.

The protagonist is so relatable, and he’s flawed to the point where it’s completely realistic. It’s usually hard to write characters so young and be able to understand them as if you were that age, so this story is extremely impressive. The beginning of the story was a bit rough, I’ll admit, but as the story continued, it really got better. The pacing was very smooth, and you got to understand the environment as if it were the back of your hand. The characters had all their separate and respective quirks, and that’s what gets me in a story. Usually characters may share the same traits and things like that, but most of the characters were unique. The emotional bonds that were built during the span of the story were strong to the point where I felt like I knew them personally. They were so real, they could be real people. I’m not going to spoil anything in this review (which will be tough to do), but here’s my ten cents.

This story really took me back to my (slightly) younger days when I would visit my grandmother in the more rural part of Houston. The vibe really stuck with me throughout this piece, and the struggles that our protagonist goes through were very real. And it was interesting that you understood how the child mind works to the point of expertise. Just writing this review is making me tear up a little.

I’m going to be thinking about this for a very long time. Your writing skill is absolutely impeccable. All the settings you wrote were absolutely real and physical in my head, as if I could feel the sandals under my feet and feel the wind on my face. Goodness, writing to this amount of skill should be some sort of superpower. I’ve never read a CYOA quite like this. Sure, others can be descriptive, and heartbreaking, and full of warmth, but I’m not sure how to describe this one. I’m truly at a loss for words. If you can describe a story as being ethereal, then this would be it. Goodness. I think I’m going to need some tissues to finish this.

For the readers; you will not be disappointed. IAP has created a masterful and beautiful story here for you to read. I implore you to give it a try. If you’re looking for a good story, this is it. You’ve struck gold.

My only complaint is the slightly linear style of writing, which kind of fits well with this one since it seems to be more of a book and less of a ‘game’, if you will. I just sincerely adored this story from start to finish. I applaud you greatly. Every page I read I was reminded of my childhood, and I’m still continuing to make memories that even now remind me of this story. I hope to grow up alongside our brave, compassionate protagonist, and maybe someday fulfill his goal. I just feel such a deep connection with him, he might as well be me in another body. The reader can really put themselves into this story, and that’s what readers really want in a CYOA. Being able to put your own views and morals into an impressionable character and mold them like clay is an interesting part of stories like these.

Congrats, IAP, you’ve created a monster of me. I want more, but I also know with some sense of finality that the story has ended and will not continue. This story is nothing short of perfection.
-- At_Your_Throat on 9/23/2018 12:04:46 PM with a score of 0
I really loved this story!

Right from the start you perfectly captured the thought process and voice of a child who has been forced to grow up way to soon. The story really drew me in right from the start and I was glued to it the entire time.

There were a few minor typos here and there, but the quality is all there. At times the story did feel linear, but a few play throughs shows there are quite a few different paths and endings. And, honestly, the story itself more than made up for the parts that were linear. The fact that it is based on a true story only made it that more touching to read.

I got Ending 1 with the epilogue on my first play through, but went back and tried for a few other endings. All of them are worth going back and finding. This story is heart wrenching in all the right ways and the ending with the epilogue really shows the long term effects that these kinds of situations can have on a young child. Some of the other endings were hauntingly bitter and others were sweet yet sad. But, throughout the story there was always this sense of hope in the protagonist.

Another thing I loved about this story, even if it is one of the sadder parts of it, is that it shows the reality of children who are in abusive homes. Not all of them get a happy ending. Some of them get tragic endings and others just survive until they can reach adulthood. This story perfectly captured that in a beautiful, haunting way.

Altogether I really enjoyed this story. It felt a little linear here and there, but again the story itself made up for that in my personal opinion and a few play throughs proved that it wasn't linear at all. Other than the few typos here and there I don't have any other criticism. I loved every minute of this story and it did bring tears to my eyes, which I can honestly say other game on this site has ever done.

Altogether I give it a 7/8.
-- simplesabley on 9/22/2018 7:17:32 PM with a score of 0
Sooo saaaad! ???? why didjane have to die!
I literally cried, and I never cry! It was great with really strong words.
I want you to make more, but not with stuff THAT sad.
-- Wolfy110022 on 8/6/2019 10:20:19 PM with a score of 0
A powerful written piece. Thank you for sharing the Epilogue.

Jane lives on through this story.
-- JonathantheEthereal on 6/7/2019 5:51:49 PM with a score of 0
Oh my God.

Congratulations on being the first author on the site that made me cry with his words. IAP, you're amazing. I've always respected you, but this story just took it to a whole another level and I don't have words to express just how much I respect you.

I agree it took me quite a while to finally complete reading Bestist Friend Jane, but I'm glad I did. This story is forever going to hold a special place in my heart and is among the few stories I can never forget. From the storyline to the characters and the narratives, IAP, your writing is phenomenal. I remember you saying it's more a 'story' than a 'game,' but to be honest, I really don't care. The emotional rollercoaster this story makes one go through is too intense for words to describe and do it justice. I felt so helpless. Like, I wanted to do something, to help them both, but I couldn't. The fate was so, so, so cruel and--argh.

If we go back to the beginning, I can immediately feel my blood boiling and the sadness overlapping any other feel thinking of Billy's mom treats him. It is just not right. Single or not, divorcee or not, you do not treat anyone, let alone your own child, that way, damn it. She's ruthless one second and the next moment you see her showing him affection and offering food and asking to stay safe and, just, what is wrong with her. The woman needs to set herself straight. I don't like it. I'm not sure if this opinion is solely based on her initial impression or is now affected by the story that I've completed it, but I just.. hate her.

And then comes Jane. Oh my God. If I'm being honest here, I really had no specific opinion on her initially. She was just a new character who soon developed into the "bestist friend." I think it was cute. I love how you brought the two kids together and showed the purity in a child's action, no matter the circumstances. Despite all odds, Billy and Jane stuck together and shared moments which shall remain cherish able forever. How they support each other, care for the other, share whatever little food they have, make plans, discuss the past and the future, it's all so brilliantly written. 10/10 for that. I feel like if Jane were not there, maybe Billy wouldn't have developed so much. Jane helped him grow and to fight for himself. Had she been absent, he probably would have continued to live under the rock and keep taking his mother's abuse. For me, Jane is the real hero of the story.

I fucking lost it when Jane died.

The tension had been building for a long time, but the moment those boys informed Billy that Jane is no more and her mother killed her, something inside of me crumbled. It was as if a huge weight had been thrown on me and I just... don't know. Much like Billy, I wanted someone to come and defy that. But at the same time, I also wanted to continue with it. The tension had been so thick in my head as I was reading through it all and the final straw before I finally cried was the scene with the police officer. Billy overhearing him talking about how he was late and Jane could have been saved had he listened to Billy, that and when he comes by Billy's side and helps him go see Jane for the final time, that was the point I couldn't hold back the tears anymore. After that everything has just been really numb for me. I kept reading but my heart and mind kept going to that one scene only. Jane died. She DIED. Holy shit. Fuck. She died. She actually died.

I found all endings and the epilogue after that, but one interesting observation was that as the scenes progressed after her death, I had difficulty trying to accept the situation and couldn't settle it in. I felt so lost. Someone important had been taken away. However, as the story moved ahead further, the feeling of numbness was replaced by the the desire to punch everyone in the faces and just magically, somehow, get to the Grand Canyon. I think that happened the same with Billy. I don't know if that was your intent for the reader to feel, but if it was, then you did a damn good job.

If looking for the story point of view, the epilogue ending was probably the best. Although I did like it, however, for me, the ending with Francessa was also quite good. It was also the one that fulfilled one of Jane's dreams--for them to live with someone nice. And my most favourite ending was when Billy dies in the middle of nowhere and sees Jane holdings his fingers. I don't know. I don't know what are the popular opinions here and I know that this ending didnt fulfill Jane or Billy's wishes, and he died, but I loved it the most. The two of them were finally together and his misery came to an end and yeah. That was the second most heart touching moment for me. I'm usually not the die-for-the-other-ending kind of person, but this time this was my most favourite. I think it wasn't essentially dying for her, it was just an end to his miseries, which I found comforting. Argh, I don't know.

All endings were perfect, though.

I'm a sucker for such deep stories and yeah, I loved this one. Reading it gave me kind of Oliver Twist vibes, and I loved it so much more because of that too.

Definitely recommend it to everyone to read it over and over again. I had so much more to say, but I think this summarises it all.

To all other readers: read it, read it, just READ IT!
-- Nehal on 5/29/2019 2:08:23 PM with a score of 0
Intro: I will start by saying that I love this story. This genre, when done right, can make way for some of the most relatable, emotional, and powerful stories that can not be matched by other genres. I for one will say that this story mixes these aspects perfectly. You can see how relatable it is to be in the pit of darkness, that the protagonist is clearly in after Jane dies.

It is also amazing how emotional this story made me. Just imagining a six year old kid going through what most never will. At that age he starts from the bottom until he meets Jane. She makes him into a more elevated person. Reaches into his pit of darkness to pull him out.

They become best friends, and forge a bond that is extremely admirable for his age, only to have her ripped from his hands and have life push him back into his pit of darkness. I don't feel my usual format is right here so I will use another one.

Protagonist: The protagonist is six when the events take place. It is clear his home is very poor, and the fact there is no father tells me that he is dead or they are divorced. I can speak from experience that being in a broken home is hard.

The fact that he and Jane became such best friends only to have her ripped from him must have cut him deep. She was the only real friends he had as far as we know of and to have her just taken from him would normally be too much for a six year old.

However circumstance made him tough enough to keep going instead of lying in a bed crying for a few weeks. Instead of giving up and mourning he tried to accomplish what Jane never could, going to the grand canyon.

Jane: Jane is a very interesting character. Of course she had to be for the sake of her impact. If we did not care about her this story would lose a lot of what makes it special.

Not only is she a great character, but her death leaves an impact on the rest of the story. A lot of stories like this make a character have only traits that make them easy to kill off. Jane does not fit this stereotype however. She makes us care about her and when she dies it not only gives the motivation for the entire story to take place, but also makes the reader feel something, and that is equally important.

Conclusion; While I may have spent this review talking about the characters, they are the met aspects of the story. This story does not focus on theme, nor concept, but making you feel for the protagonist. You want him to succeed and meet his goal. While there are other things, if the characters weren't interesting this story would not be nearly as enjoyable. While it is great, I'm going to have to give it a 7. I don't know what, but it is missing something that keeps me from putting it as an 8.
-- Serpent on 5/27/2019 4:01:27 PM with a score of 0
This story was incredibly moving and sad. I will definitely be recommending this story to my friends. Amazing job IAP, this would be a spectacular novel. 8/8
-- C6H8O6 on 5/26/2019 1:17:18 AM with a score of 0
While this story is emotional and well-written, I feel it is too harsh on single motherhood, given the fact that all the examples in this story, namely Jane and the boy, had negative experiences.

I know single mothers and they work their ass off to provide for their kids. I know it is far from an ideal environment for them, but the portrayal of single parenting is way too harsh in this story.
-- Slinking on 5/25/2019 2:06:03 AM with a score of 0
This story is basically a Pixar movie in CYS form. 8/8 *sulks into a corner and cries*
-- Lurkinator on 5/20/2019 3:57:11 PM with a score of 0
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