Friday, May 2, 2014

Review: The Lens and the Looker by Lory S. Kaufman

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.  
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. 
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. 

My review:
When I originally was asked if I would read and review this trilogy I was excited because I like these science fiction, travel type books. I am also somewhat of a history buff so, this appealed to me.
However, to begin with, I have some issues with this first book.

The first several chapters is the set up in order to get to the meat of the book. Although I understand it was needed, it also was a slow beginning and if I wasn't truly interested in these characters, I problem would have stopped there.

The premise that these three hard cases would not at least attempt to take their well advanced technology with them to the camps seems ludicrous. However, for the story line, it does make sense somewhat.

It also seems so unlikely the kids were just kidnapped as the summary and book make you think. The fact is, in some ways, the children chose to go on their own. The book makes you believe that no one knows where they are but this is truly questionable throughout. Again, this can be written off as creativity and author privilege.

The book was divided into three "books" within the book with chapters in each. I found this to be quite confusing. Was the original intention of the author to have this first book as novellas? I really cannot be sure and felt it to be a drawback.

The last of my major issues with the book was the use of curse words. Usually I have no problem with curse words in a book if they are well placed and well meaning but in this book they seems haphazard and unnecessary.

Having said all that, let me get to the good parts.

The author does know how to spin a tale. His underlying message is that sometimes working together is the best thing to do to get things done or simply for survival. This message is loud and clear.

His character development was good and it was easy to understand the characters and what made them tick. I did find it kind of humorous that these kids were considered hard cases considering that they were highly intelligent and of privilege. However, it is their intelligence that helps them in their new situations and their sense of privilege that takes them down a notch or two.

The budding love story is cheesy as some teen love stories would be. It is sweet in nature and actually a nice twist and quite surprising considering the character it involves. It does leave some questions at the ends and the reader cannot help but wonder how this would translate into the future setting.

It will be interesting to see how these characters further develop into the next book.

Overall, I like the book but want to see much more. For that reason, I give it 3 stars.

Disclosure: I was given a copy of this book for my open and honest opinion. The review here is 100% my own and may differ with yours. This review is also part of the ireadbook tours.

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