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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Mentally Speaking » » "The Ultimate Booktest Act" by Luca Volpe (5 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Mind Guerrilla
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"Ultimate" is quite a claim to make. When it comes to a book test act, what better criteria to use than that of late book test expert Dick Christian? He said that, if there were such a thing as a perfect book test, it would embody the following features:

1) The participating spectator(s) would have a free choice of any of several books.
2) The book(s) used would not be handled by the performer at any time during the show but could be freely handled and examined at length by the spectator(s).
3) The participating spectator(s) could open any of the books involved to any freely selected page and then freely select any word, phrase or image on the page.
4) Without asking any questions and without pumping or fishing for information, the performer would then reveal the word, phrase or image chosen by the spectator.

He went on to say that no such book test has ever been devised and he did not expect that it ever will! Smile That being said, how does "The Ultimate Booktest Act" stand up to this criteria?

1) Sort of. It comes with two books. One spec can choose a book while a second spec works with the one that remains.
2) The books do not have to be handled by the performer at all but they can not be examined at length by the specs.
3) The specs can flip to any page but are directed where on the page to look. There are no illustrations so image selection does not apply.
4) Check.

While "The Ultimate Book Test Act" may not fit Mr. Christian's ideal, it is still respectable:
* It is a mufti-phase routine.
* It involves 6 spectators.
* It involves a visual reveal (which could easily be adapted into a drawing duplication).
* It has a "big finish."

I think it's strong enough to be a closer.

The books are ostensibly famous works by HG Wells and HP Lovecraft. They do have blurbs and UPC codes on the back covers. Overall, however, I don't find these props aesthetically pleasing (especially the cover of the Lovecraft book). The layout of the pages look odd too. There is no separation or indentation of the paragraphs. The books also lack tables of contents and separate chapters/headings. Because the books are dealt with so briefly by each spec, however, these oddities shouldn't pose a big problem in performance. One concern I have is that it may not always be clear to some specs exactly where a paragraph ends.

For performers who only like to demonstrate telepathy, it should also be noted that the climax is a prediction effect.

On scale from 1 to 10, I give "The Ultimate Booktest Act" an 8.5 .

I've seen this selling on the big auction site for $120 but you can get it from Penguin for $71.

Image
Pasteboard Alchemist
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Very nice, comprehensive review. Thanks! Was enough for me to be able to tell it's not suited for me, but it does sound like a pretty decent book test.
saysold1
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I plan to get this as I saw Luca in person absolutely kill with this at mindvention.
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CL
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What a well thought out and written review.
lucavolpe
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Hi guys sorry if Im just coming in now I was on cruise ship working. Just want to add a couple of things:
This is a tested act and I have been performing this for years and never had any kind of problem, for the people that is concerned about not leaving the book for inspection, well you will not need to! First as if you ask to check the books you will implant in the people's mind that there is something wrong! Second as the act is structured they will NEVER have the chance to look at them! So trust me on this just go and perform and you will see the reaction you will get! Im really proud of this and I can garantee that you will love to perform it! Just did on cruise this week too and killed!

Ps. Thanks for the rating 8.5 Smile
Mind Guerrilla
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Quote:
On Nov 7, 2014, Mind Guerrilla wrote:
The layout of the pages look odd too. There is no separation or indentation of the paragraphs.


This actually may not be as odd as I thought. I picked up a genuine copy of the Lovecraft book and the pages are formatted the same way. Apparently there are real books laid out this way and, apparently, I never noticed them before!
RenzIII
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I have been introduced to Lucas work of late, I really like this mans thinking. I have used Beckers Final Flashback for some time now, a quality test as many of you may know. I think what I like about Lucas work is his attention to theatre. It appears this book test, though I have not seen it, falls into this category. I plan on checking out Lucas book text soon. Right now I'm a bit busy reading his White Rose, which is an excellent piece of work.

Rock On Luca !
saysold1
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I'm reading through it now and it's quite a nice set. More to come Soon after messing with it a bit.
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Scott Soloff
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Quote:
On Nov 21, 2014, saysold1 wrote:
I'm reading through it now and it's quite a nice set. More to come Soon after messing with it a bit.


Let me know. I'm looking at this and am a sucker for book tests.

Best wishes,


Scott
'Curiouser and curiouser."
lucavolpe
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Thanks guys for the comments!...Brett let me know as you will perform it!
CL
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Thanks for the great review MG. I'm going to purchase this based on your comments.
Scott Soloff
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Full disclosure: I received a review copy. I do not; however, know Luca except from our interactions here on the forum and have no financial involvement with this product.

Down to business: When I first received this I anxiously open the package and flipped through the books. My first thought was, 'Oh no, not another one of these'. Then I took a few minutes to read through the directions. A smile came to my face and I turned to my wife and said,

"This is lovely!"

Now, while the method is nothing new, the routining itself is delightful.

The Ultimate Book Test, as has been noted, is a three phase routine. And, a very strong one at that. My opinion is that performed properly, it will kill.

In a set consisting of five or seven effects, I would place this in the number three position. And then, I would use the final reveal to close the show (looping back around, as it were).

One small bone to pick with all of those 'magic' thinking types out there. If you think for one moment that a book has to be thoroughly examinable, then at the very least you probably shouldn't be doing book tests and at the most you may be in the wrong business.

One of the reasons that we do books tests is that a book is merely a book. IT CARRIES NO HEAT! When the audience sees a book the first thing that comes to mind is that it is a book. Period!

Anyway, end of mini-rant.

Bottom line: Luca, nice job. I have a show in January and very much look forward to road testing this baby.

My personal opinion: Highly recommended!

Best to all,


Scott
'Curiouser and curiouser."
Mind Guerrilla
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Quote:
On Dec 10, 2014, Scott Soloff wrote:
If you think for one moment that a book has to be thoroughly examinable, then at the very least you probably shouldn't be doing book tests and at the most you may be in the wrong business.

As indicated in my original post, the late book test expert, Dick Christian (who distributed books to the specs before his act even began) might disagree. I always found Mr. Christian to be a gracious gentleman and in reply to your post he would probably suggest that the two of you simply agree to disagree. With all due respect, I don't think he'd follow your career advice. Smile
mastermindreader
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Dick also used many highly gaffed books. Those were the ones he simply didn't allow to be examined, or examined very closely. I don't think he put a particularly high premium on examinability.
Mind Guerrilla
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Quote:
On Dec 12, 2014, mastermindreader wrote:
Dick also used many highly gaffed books. Those were the ones he simply didn't allow to be examined, or examined very closely. I don't think he put a particularly high premium on examinability.

To each his own. We all have our personal criteria for what we feel comfortable with. Some people insist that one should only drive a stick shift. I prefer an automatic.

I gave "The Ultimate Booktest" a positive review. I said it's strong enough to be a closer. I still prefer more examinable tests, though. This is a personal preference. A friend of mine performs "The Master Key," which I wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole because of examinability issues. Live and let live. I'm not about to tell him he's "wrong" to use it because it doesn't happen to be my cup of tea. I certainly wouldn't tell him he "shouldn't be doing book tests" or that he "may be in the wrong business" just because we don't share the same book test philosophy.

Creators like Ted K., Chris Philpott, Prof BC, Ted Kleefeld, etc. take great pains to produce highly examinable book tests. I'm not about to tell any of them that they're wasting their time.

I bought "The Shakespeare Experiment" but I couldn't get rid of it fast enough because I didn't think it held up to the level of scrutiny I prefer. That being said, Derren Brown used it to good effect in "Infamous." As I said, to each his own.
george1953
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I too have the Shakespeare experiment and didn't like it at first. However since using it a couple of times I love it and will continue to use it, horses for courses, good job we are all different.
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Moondragon1
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I am very much pooking forward to this move one luca!☺
My Lovely Assistant
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REVIEW OF LUCA VOLPE'S ULTIMATE BOOK TEST

Rating 4.5 of 5 stars!

The Ultimate Book Test Act (UBTA), is a fantastic book test routine by renowned Italian mentalist Luca Volpe. The UBTA comes with two books and a 12 page pamphlet that describes the effect, the secret and provides a word-for-word routine script. This trick is well-priced for a book test and is guaranteed to deliver astonishment to your audience.

This routine allows you to have the spectators pick words from various positions on the page, allows you to read the mind of the spectator after they read a paragraph, and then draw what they are thinking about after having read the book.

The UBTA can be used as a multi-phased routine that lasts anywhere between 5 and 8 minutes, depending on your presentation, which will require a larger audience that uses 6 spectator/volunteers. The presentation can also be broken down into much quicker acts of mentalism, not using the entire script, that would be more appropriate for a close-up situation with a much smaller audience, using either one or both books.

The two books both measure exactly 5 ¾ inches by 8 ¼ inches, and although I would have liked to see books of different sizes, that does not present an issue from the spectator’s point of view. One book is 155 numbered pages and the other is 203 numbered pages. Although the books have a larger font than I would like for such a small book, I doubt that it will be noticed be the spectators who are only looking at the text of the book for a few seconds. Similarly, the bottom margins on some of the pages are a bit off and while it jumped out at me, while I was scrutinizing the books, I doubt that anyone will notice it, since no one will suspect that the books are gaffed in any way. Other issues that are likely to be invisible to spectators are the fact that the first word in a new paragraph is not indented, the paragraphs are not separated by line spacing and the cover art of each book (one more than the other) looks a bit off. Each book has a realistic looking bar code on the back and they both also have the text “L.V. Publishing Copyright 2014” on it as well. It is a microscopic detail that no spectator will notice, especially since no spectator handles both books. For these very nitpicky reasons, I do not think that the word “Ultimate” belongs in the title (although the word refers to the “Act”). But notwithstanding this strong statement, this product gets an extremely high rating.

Volpe credits David Hoy, Chris Philpott and Steve Hollifield for the “Tossed Out” aspects of the routine, which is something that is risky to perform if you are working with a very small audience that are likely to discuss what they read. Volpe offers his email in the pamphlet and will send you a private link to a performance in Italian if you request it of him. Unless you speak Italian, I suggest skipping the almost six minute video. The books also contain a reminder key of the back of each book, for the other book which is impossible to detect.

While the promotional video is accurate and the ad copy is mostly accurate, the claim that there is a “Free Selection Involved” is vague and does not specify what is freely selected. The book? The page? The word? While the spectator can freely pick either of the two books and also the page from the book that they freely turn to, the performer does offer some guidance as to what words are selected and read. There is no need for the spectator to reveal what page number they have looked at. And because the ad copy claims that this is a “Limited Edition,” I would have liked to know how many copies are actually being sold.

The books cannot be examined closely and may be more prone to discovery due to one of the phases of the routine which relates to the kicker ending, which is very surprising to the audience. The possibility of being exposed is so minimal with easy audience management.

Notwithstanding the criticisms voiced above about the actual books, this product is excellent and lovers of book tests should indulge in this very versatile and worthwhile purchase.

www.mylovelyassistant.com/reviews/view/4347
Visit www.mylovelyassistant.com for magic product reviews.
FJR
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I performed this for the first time today - twice in fact for two different audiences, both groups were teenagers 13-15 where I work. It was part of two sets about 90 and 60 minutes long each. The reactions were phenomenal. They were blown away, especially by the final phase reveal. It is very easy to master, but as some have pointed out, it does require good audience management and clear instructions to be followed at certain points. I was a little worried that they might get the odd thing 'wrong' so to speak, but no, it went fantastically.

An incredibly strong effect.

There are possible endings which, when they speak to each other afterwards (which certainly teenage girls will!), may cause issues, and this outcome happened to me today twice which is actually considerably against the odds(owners will know what I'm talking about). However, with some impromptu psychological post-hoc explanations, I managed to turn this possible 'spoiler' into an even more extraordinary experience for those involved - an extra kicker effect for free!

Thank you Mr Volpe. A very dramatic and potentially hard-hitting piece of wonder-making. The fact that the books are what they are is an extra bonus for me as I love these authors and so can riff on them endlessly, and recommend some excellent fiction to my audience too.
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lucavolpe
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Thank you! Glad you like it!
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