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The Lens and the Looker (The Verona Trilogy) by Lory Kaufman
BOOK #1 of The Verona Trilogy:
Young Adult, Post-Dystopian Fiction
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.
The Lens and the Looker is the first book of The Verona Trilogy. It’s followed by The Bronze and the Brimstone and The Loved and the Lost.
The series takes readers along on the life-changing journey of three 24th century teens. While the three protagonists appear quite immature in the first half of The Lens and the Looker, this is not a series aimed exclusively at young teens. Lory Kaufman says he writes for readers 13 to 113, (and precocious 12-year-olds) This is borne out by the fact that about half the readership of the series is adult.
What many readers say they love about this series is its wonderful mix of science fiction (the future) and historical fiction (the past). While there’s time travel, there are also sword fights, and while there are detailed descriptions of ancient technologies, the story also includes many colorful characters who just happen to be artificial intelligences. There’s allusions to a Romeo and Juliet love story and also characters who have murderous intentions toward the lovers. And the setting? Many readers are praising the accurately described historical setting of 14th century Verona Italy, where much of the story takes place.
My Rating: 3/5 stars
The Lens and the Looker starts out in the future. This part of the book passes quickly, so I was curious to see more of that world. I was especially curious to learn more about the A.I.s(artificial intelligences). Life in this time period involves history camp, which sounded kind of neat, except for the fact it was used as a punishment.
It's not until about a fourth of the way through the book that true time travel happens and it was then that the book grabbed my attention more. It was interesting to see what life in Italy was like in the past. There's lots of details about "discs for the eyes"(glasses), and how they were made. Honestly, I kind of skimmed over that, but I imagine some of you would find it fun to learn. ;)
As it says in the description, this book hints at a "Romeo and Juliet" relationship. I'm curious how this will turn out through the next two books. I'm still hoping to see a little more of the future, but I guess I'll just have to wait and see how that turns out, too.
There were parts of this book that seemed more like a middle grade read. Honestly, I feel that an older middle grade reader would be the best target, EXCEPT for the profanity. There were more words as the story progressed.
If you'd like a mixture of futuristic dystopian, time travel to Italy, and a bit of a history lesson, definitely give this series a try!
About the Author:
Lory Kaufman lives and works in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. His post-dystopian novels and their positive bent come from his interest in environmentalism, sustainability, population studies, history, and wanting to have a serious discussion about the future. Plus, he likes to have a good time.
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