- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
Posted June 6, 2011
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.
39 out of 47 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 20, 2012
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.
21 out of 24 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 28, 2011
Okay. Word to the wise; there is sci fi elements, but you won't be spending too much time in the future world. The book is mostly set in 14th century Italy. That being said, this might disappoint some readers who are looking forward to reading about a post-dystopian world. I didn't mind as historical fiction was always something I liked to read. Mixing historical fiction with science fiction elements also provides an interesting story. The sci-fi element does make a significant impact on the story (with Pan) but it doesn't overpower it. Which is nice, as there's lots of historical setting descriptions to provide a good accurate setting that is easy to picture.
I thought it was interesting the author decides to make this book a post-dystopian society/setting. With all the dystopian fiction out there, this is an interesting and refreshing twist. Although not all the answers on how the setting came to be is revealed. It would have been nice to provide that bit of background information, alas it's not necessary.
The main general plot was really good. It gets even better towards the end with a good action climax and the ending leaves you wanting to know what happens next (there is a bit of a sneak preview of the second book at the back). As mentioned before, I liked the description of the historical setting. Not only was it concise and in detail but it was enforced and repeated throughout the novel. I can only think this is because it makes the characters (and the reader included) realize how much everything is taken for granted. The constant reminder of people's rotting teeth was rather gross, but it really does enhance the setting, and lets you count your blessings for being born in a different time period.
The three characters were nicely written and well done. I would have preferred to see more of Lincoln in this story (he is a smart aleck and has a funny quote or two). Yet the story focuses a lot more on Hansum and a little on Shamira. Lincoln does disappear for some time during the last half of the book however I am hoping he would come back with a bigger role in the second book. I'd have to say I liked how all three developed in their own way. Lincoln ends up maturing a lot as he used to be the real mouthy and rebellious one of the three. I liked Hansum, he was the steadier and unspoken leader of the three plus the love story with Guilietta provides a good part of the romance in the book - I thought they were rather cute together. Although besides Lincoln, I liked Pan a lot too. He helped the three through their adventures, but also provided a means of making their living situations improve (however it does have consequences). I'd like to know more in detail what consequence this may have in the future, but for now you do see a change in Pan's appearance (which is comical).
With such a unique idea of the History camps and an interesting blend of science fiction and historical fiction, this book was a real fun read. It had a bit of everything in one well written book. Readers might also notice it's also an interesting history lesson on 14th century Italy (well, at least on how people lived back then). I would definitely recommend this to other readers (I think it's most suited for those that like YA). It's certainly a different read and lets readers take a break from the massive amounts of dystopian fiction out there.
15 out of 24 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 5, 2011
There was so very much background info and set-up that for a while there it seemed like the adventure would never arrive but when the story rolled around I was so captivated by the teens that I just could not let go even for a few moments - even getting coffee on a chilly morning seemed like too much time away.
I had planned on giving this series to my 10 year old for Christmas but there is no way he's patient enough to make it through the background, however, I think this is perfect for my 13 yr old son. There are some areas that I felt would be a bit too much for my younger son but that I know my niece of the same age would love. Overall, I'd say that if your child loves to read they'll definitely love this book but if not - then wait for the movie.... yes, I'm really hoping for a movie version of this one - it'd be SO MUCH FUN!
Synopsis: What does one do with teens that just insist on wreaking havoc and causing chaos wherever they may go?
Well, in the year 2347 they send the rebellious teens to history camp. This way they're less likely to repeat the mistakes of the past.
But when a group of three teens and a wayward genie push the limits of even the most harsh history camp and manage to actually get sent back to Verona, Italy in the year 1347 even they begin to see life in a new light. Now, if they can only learn the value of work, perseverance, and humility they might just live through this.
14 out of 17 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 18, 2011
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.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 19, 2011
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.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 18, 2011
This is a great modern book, I was lucky enough to get an early copy from a friend of mine and fell into the story after the first page. I recommend it to all readers, young or old, Sci-Fi, romance or just escapist. This is definatly (along with 1st Hungar Games book) my favorite book in the last 5 years. Now to tell the truth, I don't tend to like modern books (past the 90's) because of their lack of drive, I mostly read the classics and old Sci-Fi. But this book has drive and is diffinatly the best Sci-Fi to come out in a while. Keep on writing Lory.
9 out of 12 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 20, 2012
More reviews should be short and to the point--helping readers decide if a book is worth exploring/buying.
Since this book was free for me, the answer is a qualified "yes". If you like historical fiction/information and don't mind "kid lit", you may find this book to be worthwhile.
I loved the first Harry Potter book and was progressively less interested as the series was drawn out. There seems to be so much in modern life is for publicity and for profit, espousing new "religions" with followers or fans. ( All things "APPLE OR I-", "VAMPIRE", etc.) Despite this I think the idea of "history camp" as a way to educate , learn , be more open to the present, and not repeat the mistakes of the past is an interesting idea..
I would like a warning/disclosure when books are " juvenile".
7 out of 17 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 15, 2012
Posted May 19, 2011
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.
6 out of 11 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 23, 2012
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.
5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 30, 2011
By the twenty-fourth century, humanity has come a long way from the brink of extinction due to AIs creating a better world. One particular improvement to foster better citizenship is the History Camps, where the young are sent to learn from past mistakes during a realistic reenactment.
In 2347 CE in the New York Community, rebellious teen Hansum scores a 0 on a test so the school's Dean Turkenshaw decides enough nonsense and enrolls the seventeen year old student for a two week session at the Deep-Immersion History Camp, which means his communication implant is removed to isolate him. Hansum looks forward to the lesson he plans to provide the enactors.
Hansum, fifteen year old Shamira and fourteen year old Lincoln arrive in 1347 Verona. The boys are apprentices to a lens-maker while the girl is assigned kitchen duty. The trio pretends to behave until the end. When the truth about the recalcitrant threesome surfaces, they are sent to Arimus who escorts them to the real 1347 Verona where they will behave or face real punishment.
The first Verona science fiction story is a terrific thought provoking tale as the History Camps are the futuristic boot camps to make recalcitrant students behave. The three teens are strong leads who just want to have fun their way in a society that has different expectations. The premise of learning from history's mistakes with lens-making and cooking was never clear how that teaches life lessons as the time in the community and the camp was relatively limited. Still The Lens and the Looker is a super opening act that hopefully contains more events in the future at the Community and at the Camp.
4 out of 16 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 21, 2012
Mr. Kaufman succeeds in delivering distinct action and combat scenes. The teen dialogue seems stereotyped from the start and Hansom's early character development makes him seem both more arrogant and perceptive than he behaves in later scenes. (Why the rhyming* fails to trigger a response in the teens made me speculate on plot)
Despite being frustrated when the plot failed to answer my anticipated questions, I hope the series will eventually catch up to the anonymous highway robbers* as well as provide more enticing settings and improved dialogue because the plot and most details are engrossing.
I'm going to give the series a chance: they are quick reads with good "bones"
*I can't provide more plot without giving away scenes.
3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 23, 2012
Posted July 20, 2012
I am a person who does not enjoy a book with swearing in it. I got this book, just to see if I liked it, and there, on the first page was a swear word. Why can't people write good, clean books anymore?
3 out of 32 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 24, 2012
It's a cute book... little romance, a little sci-fi, all kinds of stuff. If you have ever read Romeo and Juliet, you will appreciate the book even more as it references that play a lot.
2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 21, 2012
Posted April 10, 2012
Posted January 7, 2013
This was a free Friday book, so i figured "Why not?" (even though it is classified as young adult and I am not). I found it to be a very entertaining and addicting read. It is clear that the author took time to research what 14th century Verona was like, which made the story more detailed and believable. The characters were well developed and the story line very unique. I look forward to reading more from this author!
1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 9, 2012
The description had so much potential but the book failed to deliver - what a shame and a waste of time. read about 2/3 of the book and that was too much
1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.