Loose Strands isn't a traditional book app. Instead of swiping to turn pages from left to right, readers watch a strand of hair weave a border around the outside of the page and then exit. After reading a short paragraph of one to four sentences, readers swipe in the direction that the strand leads. The result is that readers are swiping up, down, right, and left. At frequent interludes, the reader will be asked to make a choice, a decision that means you follow one but not all strands on the page. When these choices are made, the book shows the decision on a gridded map as some pathways open and others close. By using save-points and locations on the map, the reader is able to backtrack and explore alternative choices.
Little boy Roland has never been outside of his house…ever. He lives with his parents in a home that doubles for a barbershop. They are so poor that they recycle hair into everything, including clothing, furniture, and food.
Roland suspects that both he and his parents are being held prisoner, and that suspicion is confirmed by Becky, a little girl who knocks on his window. With Becky's help and encouragement, Roland ventures out to discover an oppressed town in a police state where all the books are censored. The town is being run by the only customer who ever comes to his parents' barbershop, Mr. Puddlewick, his relative.
Roland also discovers that his realistic dreams about things that might happen or could have happened are unusual. As readers explore the book, the narrative frequently switches between Roland's reality and his dreams.
These dreams, represented as strands of hair weaving through his life, become important as Roland discovers how he can change the future and end the oppressive rule in his city.
What Makes This Book App Great
The delivery of a branching story with pathways represented on each page as growing strands of hair is creepy at first, but it then becomes exciting. The witty dialogue acts as a beacon when exploring the initial dark and oppressive setup. And the occasional illustrations, which frequently animate, have a Tim Burtonesque appearance, which adds a creepiness to this fantasy book.
But the gloomy beginning of the book lightens as Roland awakens to a world much bigger than what he had read about in the censored books in his family's library. Readers will be both intrigued and excited to join in on Roland's decision-making to help him become a hero who can bring about change.
Loose Strands brilliantly provides readers with a visual aid of letting them "see" what happens after every decision. The map dramatically blacks out certain squares while other squares appear as a pathway. In this manner, the map serves to reinforce and reflect the book's themes of the role of decisions and regret, and the impact of censorship.
While each page has only a few sentences, this book app takes hours to read and explore. The experimenting with different paths is fascinating. Loose Strands offers a deep and satisfying story of the awakening a special fantasy power in an unlikely hero.
Loose Strands is a brilliant read for tween fantasy lovers delivered in a unique manner that could only happen on a tablet. It is one of the most captivating book apps for tweens in the app stores.
This Loose Strands app review was written by Jinny Gudmundsen.
All tech products are judged on a five star scale by looking at the following factors: fun, education, ease of use, value, and technical.