Tuesday, May 17, 2011

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

Title: The Lens and the Looker
Author: Lory S. Kaufman
Genre: YA, Juvi, Sci-fi
Perfect for: readers of time travel sci-fi and books that take place in Italy
Star Rating: 3/5 Stars

Taken from Goodreads, "THERE'S HOPE FOR THE FUTURE, 

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."

I'm a sucker for a good time travel story, especially when it deals with Italy or Italy like settings.  'The Lens and the Looker' is a solid read that is definitely something to consider if you are in the mood for a time traveling adventure aimed at Juvi/YA audiences.

The good bits?  The characters, for one thing.  Both main and secondary, the characters in 'The Lens and the Looker'  are likable, entertaining, and have purpose.  Author Lory S. Kaufman created noticeable character growth between the first and last page-- something that isn't always found in many juvi/ya books!

As mentioned before, the setting does not disappoint.  Kaufman's descriptions of Verona and Italy in general are done well.  Having been to Italy, I know a bit about the rich, vastness that is the beautiful country and Kaufman's descriptions rang true to me!

I don't know if I would consider this 'dystopian', but it is clearly sci-fi due to the time travel element and Genie.  The main concept is dystopian and the idea of History Camps is quite interesting  but once they skip to the time traveling, it goes straight to sci-fi.

My main issue with 'The Lens and the Looker' is the writing style.  My own personal reading preferences lead towards books that don't carry a lot of long descriptive paragraphs with dialogue between each one.  I like quick dialogue and quick descriptive lines that keep the action moving and give just the right amount of description.  'The Lens and the Looker' has good dialogue, but the long descriptions made me jump a bit, sometimes missing important details.  Course, some people love long descriptions (like Tolkien readers!), but me, not so much. 

All things considered, 'The Lens and the Looker' is a good read.  If you are in the mood for time travel and don't mind slightly too long descriptive passages, this is something you may want to consider!  'The Lens and the Looker' gets 3 out of 5 stars!

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