Sunday, June 5, 2011

Book Review: The Lens and the Looker

Media Type: Book
Title: The Lens and the Looker
Author: Lory Kaufman
Publisher: The Fiction Studio
Pages: Paperback; 336
Release Date: March 16, 2011
Source: Pump Up Your Book
Intended Reading Group:
Young Adult

Content Screening:
Mild language, Mild violence

HDB Rating: 
4 Keys to My Heart

It’s the 24th century and humans, with the help of artificial intelligences (A.I.s) have finally created the perfect post-dystopian society. To make equally perfect citizens for this world, the elders have created History Camps, full sized recreations of cities from Earth’s distant pasts. Here teens live the way their ancestors did, doing the same dirty jobs and experiencing the same degradations. History Camps teach youths not to repeat the mistakes that almost caused the planet to die. But not everything goes to plan.

In this first of a trilogy, we meet three spoiled teens in the year 2347. Hansum almost 17, is good looking and athletic. Shamira, 15, is sassy, independent and an artistic genius. Lincoln, 14, is the smart-aleck. But you don’t have to scratch too far beneath the surface to find his insecurities.

These three “hard cases” refuse the valuable lessons History Camps teach. But when they are kidnapped and taken back in time to 1347 Verona, Italy, they only have two choices; adapt to the harsh medieval ways or die. The dangers are many, their enemies are powerful, and safety is a long way away. It’s hardly the ideal environment to fall in love – but that’s exactly what happens. In an attempt to survive, the trio risks introducing technology from the future. It could save them – or it could change history.
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Definitely one of the more unique books that I've read in a while, The Lens and the Looker blends both historical fiction and a bit of post-dystopian fiction into a perfect mixture of a book. I went into this story a little worried, since again historical fiction doesn't generally tend to be my favorite genre. However Lory Kaufman has found a way to blend these two worlds together, and he creates characters that will captivate you and draw you in. Despite my original misgivings, this was a book that I completely enjoyed.

Hansum, Shamira and Lincoln are all kids who are growing up in the year 2347. However during the course of the story, they are transported to the year 1347 in Verona, Italy. What I liked about these characters was how well they complimented one another. Hansum is the oldest, and although he has a snarky attitude sometimes, he's also very intelligent and perceptive. Shamira is good at understanding others, and kind of fills in the holes that they boys have in the emotional department. Then there's Lincoln of course, who kind of ends up as the comedic relief. He definitely has his share of insecurities, but he's also quite funny because of that! These characters bond together beautifully to pull you in and make you want to read on. I wanted to see what happened to them. Would they be smart enough and resourceful enough to make it through? One can only hope.

The setting of this book is mainly Verona in the 1300's. I'll admit that the one thing that I was a little disappointed in was that I didn't get to learn more about the world that these kids came from, before being deposited in the past. There are little snippets of their original home given out here and there, but as a person who is rather in love with dystopian and post-dystopian fiction, I really wanted to see what it was that they didn't appreciate. I suppose there was an inner part of me that wanted to compare right along with them. I know that I would be glad to be home after being in 1300's Verona, and we live in a time that is supposedly much less amazing than theirs!

Overall though I really enjoyed this story. The research that was done into this time period shines through on each page. Verona is described perfectly, right down to the less pleasant aspects of it during this time, and it is easy to find yourself transported there as you read. Add in characters who are intelligent, multi-faceted and downright intriguing, and you have a book that is quite a read. The Lens and the Looker is admittedly not something I would have chosen for myself, but that makes me all the more glad that I was offered it for review. It has changed my perception of the genre of historical fiction even more towards the positive side. I know that there is a sequel coming soon, and I cannot wait to find out what adventures these three teens will go on next. Thank you Lory Kaufman, for bringing a new world into my reading.

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.


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