App Reviewed on: iPad, iPhone 4iPhone Integration Rating:
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By itself, The Survivors is a young adult novel by Amanda Havard about an immortal girl living in Salem in the 1600s during the infamous witch hunts. This girl, Sadie, is one of fourteen survivors who escaped and lived in centuries in seclusion. However, this app is more than any old e-book you can download for the Kindle, Nook, or iBooks apps. The company has transformed the book into one that is completely interactive using Chafie Creative Group's Immersedition technology. So while you can simply read The Survivors, you can also learn more about the world of The Survivors by tapping on little watermark icons strategically placed throughout the book.
For example, since this story takes place in Salem, Massachusetts in the 1600s, you can easily learn more about the historical aspects of that time period in Salem without ever leaving the app. Historical events, places, and even people are all tagged with these icons, making learning about the world of The Survivors incredibly accessible.
The icons aren't just there for history lessons. They also call up character profile information and Google maps of specific locations. Some of the icons even call up music to be played while you read. If you don't like the music, you can stop it at any time.
This is such a unique concept for reading a book that it will be interesting to see this implemented in other books. I can't tell you how many times I would love to instantly call up a map while reading a fantasy book or have quick access to character profiles with books that have an obscene number of characters.
That said, this app still needs some work in terms of responsiveness for turning pages. On the one hand, it's quite clever that when you swipe from the upper corners of the book's "pages," it emulates physically turning the page of a book. On the other, it appears to take away from general responsiveness from just swiping across the screen, like you would do with another e-reader. Several times, I had to swipe repeatedly or with a great, exaggerated motion just to turn one page. I had similar problems with summoning up the menu screen that would allow me to change the font size, turn on music, or access the table of contents.
But all in all, The Survivors is a great introduction to this new idea for reading books on the iPhone and iPad, and it's really not that much more expensive than e-books from Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Hopefully we will see other books with Immersedition too, so that other book lovers who do not have a pension for young adult fantasy novels can get a taste of a truly immersive method of reading a book.