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

The Lens and the Looker by Lori S. Kaufman

You know I love dystopian/post-apocalyptic books. Well, this is one that I came across a few years ago. It’s a Kindle download which is not such fun to read if you don’t have a Kindle (I don’t like to read whole books on my PC). But now I’ve got a tablet, and it was fine reading it on there.

This was a free Kindle download from Amazon. From an interview with the author on Curling Up By the Fire: “ It’s the story of three spoiled teens from the 24th century who are kidnapped back to 14th century Verona Italy. There they must adapt to the harsh medieval ways or die. The 24th century where these youths come from is an almost perfected society, where there is no pollution, strife, hunger or degradation of human or natures spirits.”

I enjoyed this book a lot. I found fault with it, too, but I found myself wanting to continue reading all the time, which of course is a good sign.

This book is for a younger age group than I thought, I would say 12+ as it definitely felt like a children’s book to me. That was not a problem, but I didn’t feel as engaged with the story as I otherwise might have. The 24th Century world wasn’t detailed enough for me: certain aspects were worked out nicely, such as everyone having an A.I., a kind of floating robot that they were connected to all the time. There seemed to be an inordinate amount of resources spent on History Camps: camps where history was enacted as realistically as possible, with sometimes hundreds of actors playing roles for a much smaller number of children, who had to “learn from the past”, often sent there for punishment.

At first when arriving in History Camp, the three main characters decide to co-operate so they seem compliant, and they plan to later, when the time is right, sabotage their stay in the camp. It was fun to see how the children slowly start to enjoy living in the past, form attachments, and almost forget about their plans to sabotage the setting.

It was also fun to see how the story developed with baddies threatening their quiet existence, and good people who might be a mixed blessing to have around.

This is the first in a 3-part series. What I especially like about the story is the mix of 24th Century and 14th Century story. The second book appears to be mostly about the children continuing their adventure in the 14th Century. I liked the 14th Century story, but not enough to buy the next book. I would love to know what happens when they go back to the 24th Century, though! I guess that will be described in the 3rd book.

Rating: 4

Number of pages: 336

First published: 2011

I got this book: Free download from amazon.com

Genre: science fiction, children’s fiction, Young Adult fiction

Have you read this book?

Did you enjoy it?

Quick Book Review: Gone: Fear by Michael Grant

Gone: Fear by Michael GrantRating: 4/5
Number of pages: 416 (my Dutch copy)
First published: 2012 (this Dutch edition, 2012, Gone: Angst)
Genre: science fiction, YA
I got this book: from the library
Extra: Also see my reviews of Book 3 (in English) and Book 4 (in Dutch)

This is the fifth book in the Gone series, a series about a large group of children who are locked inside a very large dome, spanning many miles. They cannot get out and food and water are running low. There are opposing factions that all want to control or sabotage the town they live in. There is also a dark force that is calling some of the children to work for it.

Some children have special powers, such as being very strong, able to make light, running very fast, etc. They use these powers in their struggle to survive but also against each other.

In this fifth book, for the first time, there is a storyline about the outside world. The government are planning some actions that will be dangerous if not lethal to the children inside the dome. Also, the dome walls are changing. But does that mean it will collapse eventually so the children will be free again?

I liked the fact that “the outside” was now included in the book. So far, we had no idea what was going on outside and what they knew of the situation within the dome. I thought this book was a little better than the 3rd and 4th book, which seemed like fillers to keep the story going. In this fifth book the story was moved forward a lot. The ending was satisfactory if a little open.

In the books, many children are followed and this makes for abrupt reading, as the reader moves from one situation to the next. It’s a fun series for teenagers but except for the main idea, a little repetitive (there is a threat in each book that is fought and overwon).

Quick Book Review: POD by Stephen Wallenfels

POD by Stephen Wallenfels

This YA novel focuses on Josh (15) in Prosser, Washington and Megs (12) in LA, California. Both are seriously affected (as is the rest of their community) when a large number of black balls appear in the sky and just hang there, zapping away anyone out in the streets. They are obviously alien balls, but no one knows why they are there and what happens to the people that are zapped away.

Josh is at home with his father (his mother is on a business trip) and they ration their food so they can survive as long as possible. Megs, on the other hand, is in a hotel parking garage where she was told to wait when her mother went off on a job interview. But then the balls appeared and her mother never came back. Megs is one of the very few people in the parking area and survives on bits of food she finds in other cars. But there are some dangerous men around, who seem to have taken hostage everyone in the hotel . To survive, Megs will have to try and get into the hotel without them finding her.

The book is vague about the balls but does discuss (lightly) whether it’s better to give up on life than to wait until you die from hunger. It also shows what young people (like Megs) can achieve if they really have to. Megs was obviously quite young and unsure about her situation. In some cases she saw dead people in their cars and decided not to steal from them, in case they needed it themselves (!). Also, she was expecting her mother back and would not accept any other outcome.

It was a good read but could have gone a little further exploring certain themes. My boys (13 and 15) loved the book.

Rating: 4 (out of 5)

Number of pages: 286 (Dutch translation)

First published: 2009

I got this book: from the library for my sons (13 and 15), and they loved it, so I read it, too

Have you read this book?

Did you enjoy it?

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