The Lens and The Looker

Published September 15, 2012 by myliteraryleanings

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

Overview from www.bn.com: It’s the 24th century and humans, with the help of artificial intelligences, (A.I.s) have finally created the perfect 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 experiences 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.
Like in all groups of youth, there are those who rebel, “hard cases” who just don’t get it. In this first installment of a trilogy, three spoiled teens from the year 2347 are kidnapped back in time to 1347 Verona, Italy. There they are abandoned and left with only two choices: adapt to the harsh medieval ways, or die.

My Review:

I had high hopes for this Free Friday offering, I really did. Unfortunately it fell short for me. It is a YA/Sci-Fi/Historical Fiction/Romance all rolled into one. What intrigued me the most about it was that much of it takes place in fourteenth century Italy for most of the story and this time period has always fascinated me.

The trouble is—it is just so over the top, the things that happen in the plot. Our first character is a guy named Hansum. His name is a play on words as he is, in fact, handsome. This was a little too cheesy even for me but I wouldn’t be surprised if someone had already given their kid this name.

But back to the plot. It begins when Hansum is sent to History Camp for his bad behavior. Although this punishment might scare most other kids his age, Hansum has the inside scoop since his mother works for the History Camp and knows that regardless of what the leaders may tell their charges, there are limits to the things that they can do to the kids. Although the workers try to make the experience as authentic as possible, they are not allowed to cause them harm or even be really mean to them. Their job is to make the children see how good they have it in modern times so that they won’t go back to their bad behavior.

As Hansum arrives at camp, he meets up with two other attendees—a boy named Lincoln and a girl named Shamira. The others, at first, are scared by what the head of the camp tells them but when Hansum tells them the truth and that he has managed to sneak a “genie” on board the plane to camp with him. This genie is actually a robot with a penchant for helping the kids cause trouble. And boy does he help them cause a lot of it.

After giving a history camp actor the runs with a medieval herb, the kids are whisked away to the real fourteenth century Italy by another councilor and left to fend for themselves. The man promises to come collect them in a month but never does. The possibility of being stuck in this century forever makes the kids more and more daring. They “invent” new machines that weren’t supposed to exist for hundreds of years after their century. This gives them and their new “master” favoritism with the city’s ruling elite but it also makes them targets of others who become jealous of their new elevated positions in the city. And, Hansum finds himself falling in love and considering marriage.

The book ended in a kind of cliff-hanger which didn’t exactly surprise me but it bothered me nonetheless. I just don’t know if I care about these characters enough to read the next book in the series. They just seem too stupid and careless, especially in the beginning. I don’t think I will read the next one, though I did learn a lot from this book.

Contains:some foul language

Below is a video from the author that summarizes the book:

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