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The Lens and the Looker

Average Rating 3.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

22 out of 26 people found this review helpful.

Ignore The Rating

Unfortunately, due to the idiocy of many people who do not undetstand that reviews are meant to actually review and not for comments or questions, this book has recieved a low rating. I assure you this should not be the case. This is a very interesting novel and I urge ...
Unfortunately, due to the idiocy of many people who do not undetstand that reviews are meant to actually review and not for comments or questions, this book has recieved a low rating. I assure you this should not be the case. This is a very interesting novel and I urge you to give it a try. If you would like more information on the actual story line please read the description or keep scrolling to find helpful reviews. I personaly enjoyed it and quite sure you will too.

posted by Noreen95 on July 20, 2012

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Most Helpful Critical Review

40 out of 48 people found this review helpful.

5 out of 10 hearts

The Lens and the Looker by Lory S. Kaufman
Series: Verona Trilogy (#1)
Release Date: March 16th, 2011
Publisher: The Fiction Studio
Page Count: 336
Source: Received from author via Pump Up Your Book for review

Though this book isn't particularly lousy, my bigge...
The Lens and the Looker by Lory S. Kaufman
Series: Verona Trilogy (#1)
Release Date: March 16th, 2011
Publisher: The Fiction Studio
Page Count: 336
Source: Received from author via Pump Up Your Book for review

Though this book isn't particularly lousy, my biggest problem is how half-assed it is. Is it a sci-fi? A young adult fiction? A romance? A historical novel? A middle-grade book? A contemporized classic? Well, it's a little bit of all of the above, which makes it sound really, really cool. That's what I thought at first. But seems to be, when you mix everything up together, you don't result in a beautiful wonderful charming story. No. What you get, is a big, tricky mess.

Kaufman had such a rolling idea with this story. The dystopian young adult thriller -- with time travel! What's not to like?

Here's what's not to like: the addition of a cumbersome romance, which I'm sure most young adults don't care for; that could ruin a few things. An awkward, difficult-to-follow writing style (the kind that names the main character Hansum since he IS handsome... HAHAHAH!!); that might do it. An embarrassingly childish tone to the narrator; that will do it. I kept telling myself this is young adult. Nitty gritty, hits-so-close-to-home young adult. But an immature cast of characters and the author's way of narrating as if he were talking to a ten-year-old, completely disrupts the expected tone.

And then there are the contradictions. The Lens and the Looker is based loosely off of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Even if you haven't read the Victorian play, you know the story is basically of two people who fall in forbidden love, and end up killing themselves for it by the end. Sort of crappy? Well, that's why it's called a tragic romance. For a younger audience's novel to contain the heaviness of tragedy and love, pleases me some. I like how this book is sort of a modern version of the classic play. However, paired with the adolescent voice of the story, it just doesn't work. Either this is a children's story, or it's an adult story. Adding elements from both won't equate the book into the median and make it magically become "young adult".

Like I said, Kaufman's ideas really could have gotten somewhere. The concept of History Camps is fascinating, but he really should have stopped there. The Lens and the Looker needs to make up its mind about what type of book it is. Overall, it's a so-so read (if you can get past the author's lack of creative flow), but it certainly isn't something I am able to recommend to kids, teenagers, or adults, mostly because I don't know who it's aimed for in the first place.

Radical Rating: 5 hearts- Satisfying for a first read, but I'm not going back.

posted by TheStephanieLoves on June 6, 2011

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  • Posted October 18, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Great story!

    Do you like books about the past? Books about time travel? You should love this book.

    A brief overview:
    Hansum, Lincoln, and Shamira are three kids from the 24th century who are what we would call 'problem children'. They don't pay attention in school and cause problems wherever and whenever they can. They are juvenile delinquents in the making. As a punishment, they must "do time" in a history camp. A
    re-enactment of a time when life wasn't so easy. The kids are sent to a camp representing Verona,Italy in 1347. Does the date sound familiar? Remember The Black Plague?
    Luckily for them, they have the assistance of an Artificial Intelligence genie named Pan. Pan is a genie whose goal is to cause havoc. With help from Pan they cause problems in the camp..Remember, this is supposed to be a school of sorts. Well, obviously they are not learning much.
    A strange traveller from the future named Arimus approaches the kids and takes them to the real Verona, Italy. During the actual 14th century. No prettified (is that a word?) camp with safety precautions in place. The kids must find a way to survive, or die.

    I like Mr. Kaufman's writing style. This was a very well written book. His descriptions of life in the history camp and then in 14th century Verona were just incredible. He even went so far as to explain the differences in the 14th century between the camp and the actual Verona. I love history and was fascinated by his descriptions of everyday life. Next time you walk down the street, think about how you would feel (or smell) if your neighbor threw the contents of a chamber pot in front of you.

    The three brats, I mean kids, were spoiled individuals. I didn't think too much of them at first. Slowly I began to change my mind. We see them mature and grow.

    Remember, this is the first in a trilogy.
    The second book, The Bronze and the Brimstone is available now.

    9 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 19, 2011

    A Captivating and Intelligent Story...

    In The Lens and The Looker we have a combination of subplots going on that all weave together to form a remarkable story of love, friendship and responsibility. The book's description states that there are three main characters; Hansum, who becomes Romero, Shamira (Carmella) Lincoln (Maruccio). However, the storyline focuses more on Hansum than the others. You learn the most of him and he is the easiest to sympathize with. Plus he is the one with the love interest.

    Now, before I get into too much detail about the plot, I want to forewarn you that this isn't a book purely driven by romance. While there is a romance found within, it doesn't take center stage. If you go into reading The Lens and The Looker hoping for an over the top, historical teen romance, you are going to be disappointed. Now, again, this wasn't an issue for me, I truly enjoyed what the book had to offer. But if you are solely seeking a romance, keep looking.

    The majority of the book takes place in 14th century Verona, not the 24th century. It's a time travel book, but the characters do not hop back in front throughout history. I have never read a book about Italy during that time, or any other place really, well besides Romeo and Juliet. Although that doesn't really count, it takes place nearly 200 years later.

    The magic of this book lies with the wonderful, thoughtful take on 14th Century Verona, and the sort of coming-of-age story of the three teens from the future. Like I stated earlier, I cannot remember ever reading a book that tackled this particular time period before and Kaufman approaches it with such care and gusto. He paints a truly vivid picture of the setting and colorful characters that come with it - He made me want to meet the lens maker, his kooky wife and beautiful daughter. I want to walk the bustling market streets and see the stunning church interiors.

    The reader is introduced to the period and all of its quirks in a very unique and effective way. As the three teenagers are first coming to terms with their surroundings, so are the readers. They react in the same way that I would imagine we all would - which makes the experience and story really come to life.

    I also found it immensely interesting to see how they struggle to fit into their new life and surroundings. It is exceeding difficult for them because they even have a different way of holding and presenting themselves - they act privileged for the time period. Those they meet certainly find them odd; not only do they speak their minds and boldly look you in the eye, they can read and write.

    There isn't a great deal of action within the book, the progression is much more character-oriented. While the plot moves at a steady pace, the characters, their feelings and interactions are primarily what keeps you turning the pages.

    I only wish that we could have seen more of the story from Shamria's perspective. I thought she was one of the more interesting characters and unfortunately she sort of rides shotgun to the boys. I think her story would be incredibly interesting - a teenage girl going from the 24th century to the 14th. Think of all the status changes that would involve.

    The Lens and The Looker is both captivating and intelligent. I was swept away with the story, especially with the idea of them rewriting history. I am incredibly eager to see what happens next!

    9 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 19, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    From the past we learn from our mistakes~!!

    The Lens and the Looker is book one in the Verona Series (History Camp: the Verona Trilogy)

    Hansum, Shamira and Lincoln are three teenagers who like to create chaos wherever they go. They don't like to follow rules or listen to their elders and for that reason, they are sentenced to a session at History Camp where for the next two weeks, they will live in 14th century Verona, serving their time while living the hard reality of another.

    Arriving at their destination, the three work to upset the balance of their teachers and enactors. Working as "apprentices" to an eye glass maker, the three play a few pranks and earn the wrath of their elders and are sent to bed without any supper. However, before they can decide if they have pushed the gambit too far, a mysterious man, who speaks in rhyme and prose, appears and whisks them through a time travel portal and takes them to the real Verona, a place where their are no teachers to stop the program and protect them. The three must learn to survive until the mysterious stranger arrives to take them back home.

    Again, they are placed in the care of an eye glass maker and his family. Believing they aren't really in dangers harm, the three conspire to do the same and bring the attentions of the teachers to their aid. However, there is no one listening and when accidents befall them, they realize that they are in this for real and only their wits will keep them alive. Changing the course of history, the three begin to realize that if they make the wrong choice or influence the wrong thing, then maybe they will undo their own existence and change history forever!

    I really enjoyed this book and the characters portrayed within. The concept of History Camps is a rather interesting one and the ability to go back in time and experience life first hand would be a very creative way to spend your time. I enjoyed the characters and the humour that ensues. I found everyone to be believable in their roles and the history that is dispersed throughout the pages, concerning ancient Verona, were most enjoyable to read. It's like getting a history lesson without even realizing it!

    There are a few minor expletives, but nothing that defracts from the enjoyment of the story, and the violence is mild to moderate. The background description of their place in history was well done and I could almost imagine myself walking through the streets of the market. The mystery of how the children will return keeps you reading to see where their antics are going to lead them next as well, their coming into their own was well-balanced and read well. At first you disliked the spoiled, rude, obnoxious children but as the story progresses you watch them mature and come to love them, even Lincoln, whose sassy mouth continously lands him into troubles of some sort or another.

    I cannot wait to read the next book in the series, I would recommend this for young adults and anyone who enjoys fantasy and history combined. I think author Lory Kaufman has done a magnificent job of creating a fantasy that can give us a break from our reality for a few hours.

    7 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2012

    Young adult novel

    While many are confused about target reading groups for this book according to the reviews I have read, I have to say this is indeed a young adult novel. Many of my middle school students will enjoy these characters and their adventures, much like The Lightning Thief or The Hunger Games. I found the story enjoyable and look forward to the next.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2012

    Historical science fiction

    This is a fun novel about three teens from the future who find themselves trapped in the fourtenth centutry. Imagine going from a world of safety and comfort, with out disease, with easy access to informtion and entertainment, and very little mannual labor to a subsistance lifestyle. I think kaufman does a good job of discribing the shocking disparity between our utopian future and squalid past. Seeing these spoiled kids come to care about more than getting the better of the adults around them and figure things out is great. Watch Hansum fall in love is the doomed love of the tale, as the nobles get involved you get the feeling things will come between the time crossed lovers in the end. All in all a good book worth reading.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2012

    Yea

    It can be for kids ages 12 thru dosent matter. Has cuss words but still a generally good book.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 27, 2013

    Love all three books.

    I don't normally read this genre, but absolutely loved all three books. I could not put them down. The futuristic setting, the characters and the details in the story were all very enjoyable.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2012

    Original historical novel

    The mixed themes of scifi/fantasy with historical fiction work well in this fast-paced teen novel. You have to suspend disbelief of course, but the novel holds together well and leaves you ready to leap into the second novel of the trilogy.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2012

    A time travel experience in history

    excellent read

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 13, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    The Lens and the Looker is totally a pleasant surprise!¿Not at a

    The Lens and the Looker is totally a pleasant surprise!…Not at all as I expected! This is a well-written
     fantasy for YA. It is written in three different book segments within this one book – “Hard-Time History
    Camp”; “Hard-Time Reality”; “Stranded”. It is a dystopian and historical tale in one. It begins in the 30th
    century then includes time travel. I really thought it was going to be another Dystopian/Sci-Fi.

    17 year old Hansum, Shamira, – approximately 15 year old-, and 13 year old Lincoln were very difficult
    children who were always pulling very disruptive pranks so were sent to “Hard-Time History Camp” to
     be taught a lesson. Notwithstanding,, that lesson was not well-learned which presented a new problem
     that was soon to go awry. The tree youth go through many experiences they never comprehended
    possible. However, they were not left to their own concoctions but inconspicuously acquired “Pan”.

    The action and adventures are continuous. There is a few words of slight profanity and crudeness but
    mostly is “cleanly” written. There is even a  touch of romance. It is recommended for middle school age
    children and all YA.

    I am eager to read the next sequel ‘The Loved & the Lost.

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  • Posted May 2, 2014

    The Lens and the Looker follows a group of unruly teens as they

    The Lens and the Looker follows a group of unruly teens as they deal with an unexpected adventure. The story is set in the far future, when most of humanity has basically destroyed itself, and now the remaining population is trying to learn from past mistakes. This group of teens are placed in a history camp, in order to sort of live the life of their ancestors in order to learn to be more responsible and better people. I really liked the amount of detail in this book, the author can make even the tiniest detail of, say, creating glasses on ancient tools quite interesting. It seems like a great amount of knowledge went into making the world that this story is set in. And the author uses that world, and the strange set of circumstances the kids find themselves in, to make an interesting story about teens coming into their own.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 2, 2014

    I really enjoyed this book and had to force myself to stop readi

    I really enjoyed this book and had to force myself to stop reading for other things. The story is interesting and moves at a great pace. The main characters are lovable and irritating in a way that only teenagers can be. The dialogue did seem somewhat unnatural for teenagers; though some latitude can be granted for their adaptation to the time period. There were also a few overlooked proofreading errors in the Kindle version. Overall, I think this is a wonderful, fun story, and I'm looking forward to continuing the series.

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  • Posted March 3, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Lory S. Kaufman in his new book, ¿The Lens and the Looker¿ Book

    Lory S. Kaufman in his new book, “The Lens and the Looker” Book One in The Verona Trilogy series published by The Fiction Studio takes us into the lives of Hansum, Shamira and Lincoln.

    From the back cover: There’s hope for the future, but what about the past?

    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.

    There is a little bit of the theme of Pinocchio in “The Lens and the Looker” only, this time there are three rebellious teens, instead of the one rebellious youth. In each story they are lured away and brought to a place that they, probably, will never return from and there they learn their lessons. Then there is the science fiction element. I just enjoy so much a good time travel adventure and I have to say that “”The Lens and the Looker”" is one of the best. Whisked back in time from the 24th Century to 14th Century Verona, Italy and really apprenticed to an eye glass maker these teens are seriously out of their comfort zone. Now they have to make their new lives work for them. Wow, is this an exciting adventure! ”The Lens and the Looker” is a lot of fun. I am glad I found this talented author and am already looking forward to the next book in this series.

    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Pump Up Your Book. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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  • Posted February 10, 2013

    Loved this Trilogy, am finishing book 3 now

    Loved this Trilogy, am finishing book 3 now

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 1, 2012

    Needs more interesting plot

    While the characters were good and well developed, along with the setting, the storyline was a bit lacking. It seemed all the large conflicts were resolved rather quickly, often including Pan.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 10, 2012

    Goog read

    This was a very interesting book and a good read. Howecer my biggest problem reading it was trying to keep up with the names of the characters. The author choose to use both the names for the three teenage time travelers throughout the book. It would have made reading easier if the Hansum, Lincoln and Shirmia names were used whn talking to each other and their Italian names of Romero, Mucurrio, and Carmella were used for the rest of the story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 9, 2012

    Want more!

    The Lens and the Looker was a surprising novel. Liked the way Kaufman and Aronica developed the characters. Definitely looking forward to reading the next installment.

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  • Posted September 2, 2012

    Enjoyed this one. It had good characters and story. Read the se

    Enjoyed this one. It had good characters and story. Read the second book too. Hope he writes more and gets more into the time travels. I think that would be interesting.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 31, 2012

    Fun

    Future is strange but the time travel and tech interesting.

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  • Posted August 29, 2012

    As a History Fan, I Really Liked It!

    I recently read Lory Kaufman's The Lens and The Looker, which is a YA adventure novel. It's hard to pigeon-hole it into a genre, aside from young adult, because this novel has a little bit of everything: history, sci-fi, tech, romance....it's a very full novel, in terms of themes and concepts.

    While I think the main three characters were somewhat glossed over in favor of a larger storyline (which isn't a bad thing, considering this is an adventure novel, I just feel less like I can relate to any of them), I love the references to Shakespeare, the really detailed descriptions of life in 14th century Verona, and integration of lens making (a skill which I knew nothing about until I read this book). As a lover of history and historical costuming, I was super impressed that Kaufman included details like the liripipe (cap) and the way chamber pots were dealt with, etc.

    I'm also curious about the futuristic world Kaufman has created, even though we only get a tiny glimpse into it. Luckily for me, he includes a note at the back of the book that he delves more into these theoretical-future concepts on his website. Rather than stick with the usual hopeless dystopian landscape, Kaufman has built up a society in which we live longer, are a smaller population, and genuinely attempt to learn gratitude for our blessings by full immersion into the past. Of course, that weighs heavy with irony and foreboding by the end of the book, if you look at it from a warfare perspective.

    I was of two minds about his writing style, though it eventually grew on me. I generally like to be shown, not told, and he does both (including details the character observing would not know, or not have reason to point out), yet there's some subtle veins of subcontext running through the story as well. The overall effect of this is a book that middle readers and young adults would enjoy for the adventure, and older folks would enjoy for the 'what if' factor.

    And did I mention that it takes place in 14th century Verona? :)

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