I am so pleased to bring a review today of "The Lens and the Looker", the first installment of the Verona Trilogy, by Lory S. Kaufman, and brought to you by iRead Book Tours!
The LENS and the LOOKERBOOK #1 of The Verona Trilogy:
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 degradation. 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.
I started "The Lens and the Looker" after my husband and I came home from our slightly-delayed anniversary supper and finished the book some time after 1 a.m. the next morning. I've never literally not been able to put a book down before, but came very, very close with "The Lens and the Looker".
One would expect a post-dystopian novel about young people to have different language than such a book written for young people, and "Lens" does not disappoint. Our three heroes (Hansum, Shamira and Lincoln) are 'hard cases' and even the regular History Camps do not teach them the intended lessons, so they are sent to "Total Immersion History Camps" where the young people are left without some of the 24th century technology to which they are used. It quickly becomes apparent that they are to 'hard case' for even those camps when they are taken back 1000 years in time to the "real" 14th century Verona, Italy.
Think about it. No electricity, no indoor plumbing, no computers, no internet (ohmygoodness!). It's not that you go home to these conveniences at the end of the day...they don't exist yet.
Luckily, the teens have an 'insurance policy', a holographic AI (artificial intelligence) called Pan. They were not supposed to have him at the History Camp, but they did; and with Pan, they created disruptions. But back in the real 1347, they are lucky to have Pan. At first, they are still just trying to mess things up for other people, but Pan becomes a very useful tool in helping the young people adapt to their new surroundings. When their time-traveling guide dies in that period, Pan becomes a lifeline.
There's also a nice bit of social commentary in "The Lens and the Looker". There are wide class differences in medieval times. Peasants are treated little better than cattle by the noble classes. The young people are given the names Romero, Carmella and Maruccio (Hansum, Shamira and Lincoln) and supplied with enough technology to be able to communicate in the Italian of the day.
We are also introduced to the de la Cappa family, whose father, Agistino, is a lensmaker. They have come on hard times, due to the father's alcoholism. It is to this family that the time-traveler brings the three 'orphans'. In our day, orphans would probably be brought into a home as family. Back then, they were brought in as servants. Signora de la Cappa talks to angels, and everyone assumes she is crazy. Their daughter, Guilietta, is kindly and of an age to be of interest to Romero/Hansum and a friend to Carmella/Shamira.
I'm sure you can imagine some of the predicaments into which the young people become entangled. Do they introduce technology centuries ahead of time to survive or make their lives easier in the 14th century? You really, really need to read "The Lens and the Looker" to find out!
"I write Post-Dystopian fiction. After society’s collapse, which is imagined in so many great dystopian stories, humans will either fade into history, with the dinosaurs, or, if it learns the right lessons, society will go on to construct a civilization to last tens of thousands of years. The books of THE VERONA TRILOGY are the exciting adventures of young people doing the latter.” -Lory Kaufman
(Disclaimer: I was provided a copy of "The Lens and the Looker" from the author via iRead Virtual Book Tours in exchange for my honest review. No other compensation was received.)