Pastworld [NOOK Book]


What if Victorian London were an amusement park where the inhabitants were actors hired to entertain visitors from the twenty-first century? Now imagine if Jack the Ripper was a planned attraction gone horribly wrong. Life inside the park, Pastworld, is all Eve has ever known. But then she meets a tourist in terrible trouble. Their adventure through this dark and dangerous theme park is sure to grab teens in paperback.

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What if Victorian London were an amusement park where the inhabitants were actors hired to entertain visitors from the twenty-first century? Now imagine if Jack the Ripper was a planned attraction gone horribly wrong. Life inside the park, Pastworld, is all Eve has ever known. But then she meets a tourist in terrible trouble. Their adventure through this dark and dangerous theme park is sure to grab teens in paperback.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
London in 2048 has become one vast Victorian-themed amusement park (there's even an “artificial fog bank”) under the control of the powerful Buckland Corporation. Caleb Brown, 17, and his father, one of Pastworld's architects, are attacked and separated as soon as they visit the exclusive tourist destination. Accused of murder and on the run, Caleb is quickly drawn into Pastworld's underbelly; at its center is the mysterious Fantom, a crime lord with a bloody reputation. Caleb's fate eventually becomes entangled with that of Eve, a beautiful teenage circus performer with little memory of her past. The theme park strives for absolute authenticity, and Beck (The Secret History of Tom Trueheart) relishes in some grisly details (the laws in Pastworld are antiquated as well, and certain crimes are punishable by public execution). As the central protagonist (besides a security officer who is drawn into solving Pastworld's dark mysteries), Caleb is remarkably passive; only Eve takes control of her destiny, rejecting her predetermined role as victim. Though the story has its flaws, steady action and an inventive concept keep this a fast-paced adventure. Ages 12–up. (Nov.)
Children's Literature - Jean Boreen
Imagine visiting London. . .Victorian London. . .as a citizen of the future. In this combination fantasy/historical novel, Caleb has the opportunity to visit Victorian London as a tourist with his father, a Buckland Corporation employee who was one of the people primarily responsible for "tourist London's" existence. But during their visit, Caleb's father is kidnapped by a dark figure called the Fantom who is known for his murderous ways and the bloody tokens that he takes from his victims: their hearts. A connected subplot involves Eve, who has no memory of her existence before her fifteenth birthday; when she leaves her guardian's home to pursue a career in the circus, she is a natural—almost too natural. She, too, is connected to Caleb's father and the Fantom, and it is in the unwinding of these subplots that we get the real story of the Buckland Corporation's intentions for Eve and the Fantom as well as the other citizens of Pastworld London. This is a solid adventure story that clearly has been well-researched to create the authentic feel of London past; further, the ethical situations it invokes will give readers quite a bit to consider. Reviewer: Jean Boreen, Ph.D.
VOYA - Summer Hayes
Life is so dull and regulated in the year 2048 that England's citizens are willing pay top dollar to experience gritty Victorian-era London via the Buckland Corporation's theme park called Pastworld. Filled with actors and full-time residents with whom the touring "Gawkers" interact, Pastworld is also home to an illegal and very real criminal underground led by the Fantom, a ruthless murderer who decapitates his victims before removing their hearts. When seventeen-year-old Pastworld resident Eve runs away from her guardian, she sets off a chain of events that uncovers not only her own previously unknown true identity but also that of the Fantom. As their intertwined destinies are revealed, they threaten to expose the darkest secrets of Pastworld and the Buckland Corporation. This book is heavy on plot and very light on substance. Characters are thinly drawn with little attention paid to motivation, resulting in an unconvincing cast based on physical description rather than personality. Although the intertwining narratives offer interest through multiple points of view, plot threads languish for chapters at a time and the choppy, disjointed results dampen the suspense in this fast-paced story. It is unfortunate that the complex and interesting themes begging for exploration, such as the tension between future and past worlds and the moral implications of bio-engineering, are barely addressed. Despite an intriguing premise, this one will likely satisfy neither the science fiction nor mystery fans it is meant to attract. Reviewer: Summer Hayes
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—In 2050, civilization has become sterile, controlled, peaceful, and very, very boring. In an effort to capitalize on the ennui of the rich and famous, Buckland Corporation has created the ultimate vacation destination: Pastworld, a city modeled after 19th-century London where visitors also known as "gawkers" can immerse themselves in a Victorian world complete with grueling poverty, near-primitive medicine, lawlessness, and a casual disregard for human life. When 17-year-old Caleb Brown enters Pastworld with his father, one of the theme park's creators, he is unwittingly embroiled in a Scotland Yard investigation of a series of Jack the Ripper-style murders. Befriended by a young pickpocket and a beautiful girl with amnesia, he fights for his life and future in the dark underbelly of Pastworld. Readers who enjoyed Eleanor Updale's "Montmorency" series (Scholastic) will find this novel equally suspenseful and gripping. This spellbinding page-turner will keep readers on the edge of their seats.—Jane Henriksen Baird, Anchorage Public Library, AK
Kirkus Reviews
To a Victorian London setting add a dash of airships, a pinch of spycams and a generous helping of gruesome murder for a collection of story elements bound to please. Pastworld is a theme park, a fully immersive reconstruction of Victorian England in 2050 London. A Ripper-like murderer, the Fantom, has emerged, and somehow he is connected to the theme park's leaders. The mystery draws together a disparate cast of characters into a cacophonous narrative: a well-meaning but callow youth from outside the park, an intrepid police inspector, an Artful Dodger type with a heart of gold and a 17-year-old girl with no memory of her youth. Thoroughly inexpert prose-painfully contrived diary entries that punctuate the narrative stand out as examples of this-doesn't change the fact that romance and grisly murder among gas lamps will be sure to win fans. The stereotyped stock characters are likable and the predictable plotlines are enjoyable, so what's wrong with that? (Science fiction. 13-15)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781599906973
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
  • Publication date: 11/9/2010
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 1,204,070
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.06 (w) x 7.75 (h) x 1.25 (d)
  • File size: 999 KB

Meet the Author

Ian Beck is one of the UK's most popular illustrators of children's books and his work appears frequently in magazines and advertisements. In his early years he paid the rent by working parttime in the toy department at Harrod's. Later, he got involved in the record industry, and painted the cover of one of the most popular records of all time: Elton John's Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. This is his first YA novel. Ian lives in London with his wife, Emma Stone, and their three children.

Visit him online at and

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 11 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 5, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Andrea for Teens Read Too

    Pastworld is a "theme park" set in the Victorian times of London. The visitors, called Gawkers, get submerged in that lifetime. They must follow strict rules to keep to the authenticity. The story is about Eve, a girl who was shut away in a house in Pastworld and only let out with her guardian, who runs away to join the circus. She doesn't remember much of her childhood, but she dreams of being free. The story is also about Caleb, a visitor to Pastworld whose life is turned upside down when he's a witness to a murder. Before long, he is labeled as the murderer and his father is kidnapped right before his eyes. He is taken in by a pickpocket named Bible J. And then there's the Fantom. He is a serial killer with a gruesome calling card. These three characters are all involved in some way - a very shocking way! PASTWORLD was definitely...interesting. Working for Disney, I saw that this was about a "theme park" and was excited. But I wouldn't exactly call Pastworld a theme park; it's just a city set in the past. You could definitely tell this book was written by a guy, since it was really gory. I wasn't expecting that, but it didn't turn me off from my reading. Sometimes, I didn't really care about the characters. While I wanted to care about Eve, I didn't feel like there was enough about her for me to feel sympathetic about. That being said, this was a good science fiction/mystery book. I spent a lot of the storyline trying to figure out what was going on, and I would say that about two-thirds of the way through, I finally figured it out. And it was a good twist! I feel that the ending wrapped up too quickly, as I would have liked to have read more about what happened at the end scene with the Fantom and Eve. Still, a good read overall, though.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 5, 2010


    The summary for this book doesn't give it justice. I bought the book and read it in about two days. If you start reading this, you just can't stop. You fall in love with the characters so fast and really understand them as well. I picked up this book looking for something different. Well, I got something different and better. Kudos to the author!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 14, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Fun, original read!

    Was well worth it, as I think it's a very original story, with a twist I should have seen coming but didn't!

    One of the things that I enjoyed about the book is that each chapter is narrated by a different character. We have excerpts from Eve's journal, then the next chapter might be from Caleb or Bible J or a policemen, then back to Eve. The different voices weren't hard to keep track of, and I thought having several different viewpoints only enhanced the story.

    Found the whole idea of turning an old section of London into a giant theme park for the rich remarkably believable, and thought Beck was able to keep the story moving along nicely even when switching from narrator to narrator. Don't want to give away too much of the plot as there were a few nice surprises along the way, but I will say that I liked most of the characters and that the unlikable characters were all villains.

    Gave this book a 4/5 rating. Thought the writing was very well done, the characters were all well developed, and the plot was original and compelling. I've seen a few comparisons to The Truman Show, but I didn't think they were similar at all. I don't think that this was too violent for a YA book, as video games are much more violent and bloody. All in all, I'd recommend this book!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 19, 2012


    Hmmm eve and caleb? Where have I heard that before?

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  • Posted December 19, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Not bad, but...

    The story was original, it wasn't baddly written but it was extremely predictable.
    Eve and The Phantom screamed AUTOMATONS! from the start, the ending was rushed, and the part that bothered me was that Pastworld was supposed to be 100% Victorian, however, they did allow clockwork animals and the aircrafts hovering inside the dome...

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  • Posted November 21, 2009

    more from this reviewer


    I have never been a big YA fan until fairly recently so I was a little overwhelmed by the sheer amount of YA books I've either won or bent sent for review so I was a little hesitant to read this book. I figured I would hang onto it for a while then read it sometime in the future. However, after reading the first 5 pages I was pretty hooked.

    I recently discovered "steam punk" books about a year ago but this is the first time I've ran across a YA book in the genre. Now some may say it's not really "steam punk" because it doesn't take place in Victorian England. Since this takes place in a setting that is for all purposes Victorian England and it involved genetic engineering, robotics, and modern science, I think it qualifies.

    I enjoyed this book quite a bit. It plays around with the whole concept of family in quite a different way. What make a family and the relationships between family members are equally explored throughout this book in such a way that it makes you think about what the future has in store for the human race. The character development was strong and stayed front and center for most of the book. The character of Eve is a fascinating one to me for she seemed to grow as a character but still managed to stay two dimensional to me. I'm not sure if this was intentional or not but it somehow works with the story.

    My only qualm about the book was the character of The Fantom, the new Jack the Ripper. I felt that there was so much more to explore with this character that was simply ignored in the book. I wish we could have had a little bit more of him and his development.

    Overall, I highly recommend this book to anyone wanting a solid YA, "steam punk", of SciFi novel.

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    Posted January 24, 2010

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    Posted October 7, 2009

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    Posted April 22, 2010

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    Posted October 23, 2009

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    Posted July 19, 2010

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