History Adventures, World of Characters by Spencer Striker, PhD

Book Blurb:

Looking for the best way to learn World History? Travel back in time to 1750–1900 with award-winning History Adventures and experience the stories of 5 amazing characters who lived during this dynamic period—brought to life with the help of animation, interactivity, and visual effects.

History Adventures is a non-profit organization creating a revolutionary interactive learning experience that will enhance and broaden student comprehension of the complex world around them.

Developed by Spencer Striker, PhD, History Adventures is taking world history education to a whole new level with 3D experiences, data visualizations, sound effects, and amazing graphics. Importantly, you will also be able to test your comprehension by taking multimedia, rich assessments at the end of each character narrative.

I received this book from the author for the purpose of this review. All comments and opinions are entirely my own.


EBooks are evolving more and more to interactive platforms as audio books and apps become more popular with readers. With this year’s unforeseen school shut down and the country-wide push to online school platforms, I anticipate seeing even more school apps and interactive ebooks like History Adventures: World of Characters in the future.

Before going into the content of History Adventures, I’d like to first discuss my opinion of the book’s format and give you a fair warning that this review may be a bit longer than my normal reviews, though I am going to try to keep it as brief as possible.

To explain what a 3D and interactive ebook is, think “a book with clickable features, graphics, and videos”. Unlike the AR book that I reviewed some time ago (which was its own, individual app), this book is downloaded through iBooks and is read and navigated like a regular ebook. The difference however, is that some of the “pages” are videos with audio, while other pages allow you to rotate the screen and click on “clues” to discover the characters’ stories.

History Adventures: World of Characters felt like a major throwback to the Carmen Sandiago computer games in the 90s! If you never played those games, I’m so so sorry for you they were history games that were formatted very similar to this. There is a still image with “points” that you click on to learn more and the 3D images allow you to “look around” the room to find clues about the characters and their time period.

Used for promotional purposes from the official website of History Adventures, World of Characters.

I have to say, the graphics are absolutely incredible! The style is consistent throughout the book and they’re all extremely well done, realistic, and really bring the book to life.

The layout of the adventure, the sound affects of the videos, the audio snippets from the narrator, and everything else that really ties this book together are truly high quality and very well designed. The only qualm I have is that some of the videos did glitch on me, and some of the images that allow you to zoom in on and read (like historic documents, letters, etc) would cause the app to freeze and I’d have to exit out of the app and reload the book to resume my reading. This only happened one or two times however.

So my opinion of the quality of the book is very, very high.

As far as content, I think it’s very informative and engaging.

Used for promotional purposes from the official website of History Adventures, World of Characters.

I do find it odd that these particular time periods were chosen with seemingly no connection to each other, and why were such dark periods chosen back to back? Even though this book would have taken me an hour and half to read, I had to spread it out over a few days because the topics are so heavy. With the illustrations so lifelike and actual pictures and documents included, it was just a depressing read–especially the chapter about the Chicago Meatpacking Industry (why in the world would you end the book with THAT chapter?!).

While the layout of each chapter–with all of its features, facts, and lessons– were extremely informative and presented in a way that will allow the information of the time period to stick with you, I found the character stories to be a bit lacking. The book is called “World of Characters”, so naturally, I assumed that the book would focus on the characters. While they are the main focal point of the book as a whole (appearing on the cover, having the chapter titles named after them, etc), they only have a brief, and somewhat elusive, section at the beginning of their chapters while the majority of the chapter goes on to describe the time period. The readers aren’t even told what happens to the characters at the end because the character sections are closed with a “choose your own ending” which you can select from two options. Which is really cool! But is one of them correct? Is one of them how things actually ended for this person, or are neither? The book never specifies, and that really bothered me about an educational book that is supposed to enlighten readers. Especially a book that is centered around its characters.

Overall, however, I think the idea behind History Adventures: World of Characters is brilliant and like I said at the beginning, the quality is superb. I can easily see this becoming a series that is built on and just like any project, it can be improved with time and effort. So, I give History Adventures: World of Characters 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it to high school students and college students only. While the format would be awesome for younger students, the content (images, topics, etc) is too graphic, in my opinion, for younger readers.

Goodreads | iBooks (free)


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