Unseen Text: Arcadia
Text Type: Advertisement
Guiding Question: How does the text try to engage the reader’s interest in ‘Arcadia’?
While Paper 1 is not a formal essay ( you only have 1 hour and 15 minutes to compose your answer), you are still required to organise your response. In fact, 25% of your marks are gained through the way you structure and focus on the ideas you want to write about. You should probably spend the first 15 minutes working with the text, annotating the formal and stylistic features and collecting your ideas. You then have an hour to write your response. Make sure you demonstrate your paragraph skills when writing your answer; while not explicitly required, paragraphs are the basic building blocks of written organisation, and learning to write in manageable ‘chunks’ will help you both focus your ideas and cover a reasonable range of points. This response has been written to demonstrate that, if you are struggling with organisation, some texts lend themselves to chronological analysis: look how the response follows the layout of the advert. Of course, this is just one possible way of structuring an answer – alternative methods can be equally valid.
The given text is an online advertisement for a new-concept novel, Arcadia, written by Iain Pears. Where most novels are linear, with the reader following the story from beginning to end, Arcadia is different: the reader can choose to have a new reading experience should they decide to ‘download the app’ (there is a button provided) by mixing up the order in which they read the different chapters of the story – and even miss out parts of the story that ‘do not appeal.’ While the target audience for this advert is wide, the elements of the story teased in the advert make it seem like a YA novel, with a teenage protagonist and a mystery to be solved, so the book might appeal more to a teenage or young adult audience.
Firstly, the advert has been designed to be read top-down, with more attention-grabbing features at the top, and more information at the bottom. The title and author of the novel is in large, bold type, and in orange lettering so it stands out against the dark background. The title is dramatic: a single word, ‘Arcadia’, which sounds mysterious. Perhaps it’s the name of one of the‘three interlocking worlds’ introduced in the subheadings? The idea of exploring new, imaginary worlds would especially appeal to fans of fantasy and science fiction. The subheading is presented in a group of three lines and it becomes clear that the number ‘three’ might hold some kind of significance. The subheadings offer the promise of drama and mystery (‘looking for the answer’) and perhaps even time travel: ‘but who controls the future – or the past?’ The subheadings have been written to tease and hook, but not to give away too much information: the final line is written in the form of a question, and the answer can only be discovered by reading the book.
The reader of the advert will follow the page down to the primary image – a partially opened door. Through the door is a glimpse of a landscape, probably one of the ‘worlds’ the reader will be able to visit. Sunlight flashes through the door in a dramatic way, again the colour contrast with the dark background makes the image stand out. The door symbolises the discovery of a mystery that can only be discovered by reading the novel. Moreover, on closer inspection the door is framed by the borders of an i-phone, encouraging the reader to read the novel on a phone or device. There is also a ‘play’ button in the middle, suggesting the reader can interact with the story. Therefore, this image is likely to appeal to (younger?) readers who want a new kind of reading experience, mediated by technology.
The next part of the advert the reader encounters is a ‘blurb’, text normally found on the back of a book that teases part of the story and gives a little information about the main character. In traditional book selling, this blurb is an important feature helping potential buyers make up their mind whether to buy and read the book. This ad is no different. The blurb introduces two characters who may appeal to younger readers. It is likely that ‘fifteen-year-old Rosie’ is the point of view character; she is a teenager and following the story of someone around their own age is likely to appeal to teenage readers. Plot points are teased in a dramatic way. A ‘rebellious scientist’ is dealing with ‘potentially devastating consequences’ and Rosie ‘finds herself in a different world.’ All these examples make good use of adjective stacking (‘sun-drenched land’ is another example) to both expand the descriptions and increase the drama.
The second page of the advertisement develops the concept of the interactive story and its simultaneous launch on different platforms. The secondary image presents three i-phone frames, depicting aspects of the app’s content: the lightning flash is dramatic; the ten chapter headings illustrate the idea that the story can be read in any order the reader should choose; the extracts from the narrative give a glimpse of the writer’s style. Interestingly, he uses direct address to speak to the reader in the second person: ‘Imagine a beautiful landscape.’ This supports the idea that the reader can get ‘sucked into’ the story and might even feel a part of the worlds they are reading about. Each image is accompanied by a caption: ‘The Story; The Journey; The Adventure.’ The captions are short, to-the-point and dramatic, blurring the boundaries between the act of reading and feelings of adventure and excitement.
Finally, the reader will encounter a testimonial in the form of a quotation and a Q and A with the writer. These two elements of the text fulfil distinctly different purposes. The first direct quotation is all about building up excitement and anticipation: “I wanted to do something new. I wanted to give you the freedom to put the tale together in your own way.” The quotation features anaphora, that implies the writer very much ‘wants’ to please his readership, encouraging them to be appreciative of his efforts. Another noticeable repetition is the word ‘new’: repeated four times in the text, it is combined with the word ‘ground-breaking’ to suggest the novel is unique, appealing to readers who like to think they are experiencing something special.
The Q + A is less persuasive, but gives more information in a way that clarifies the concept of the novel for anyone who may be confused. An example of a sentence that clarifies is, ‘the main difference is between the app and the other versions.’ It turns out that the emphasis on the number ‘three’ may have been a bit misleading; the only variation that really matters is that between the printed and digital reading experiences. This is further clarified when Pears is quoted: ‘the app offers the reader a chance to fashion the narrative according to taste… this can’t be done in the novel version.’ However, the appeal to those who might enjoy an experiment in non-linear reading is likely to be reinforced by this section of the advert.
In conclusion, the advert for Arcadia is likely to appeal to those who may enjoy an experimental reading experience by downloading the app and reading the digital version of the novel. They can play with timelines, choose which order to read the stories and piece together parts of the mystery for themselves. The text challenges the convention that books must be read in a linear fashion, from beginning to end – ironically, the advert is best read in just this way!
Categories:Paper 1 Analysis