March 8, 2012

Book Review: The Lens and The Looker

Title: The Lens and The Looker
Author: Lory S. Kaufman
Published: March 2011
Copy Obtained: From Publisher for review

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. 

My Review 

I really love the concept of this book.  It’s almost like taking the quote “those who don’t learn from the past are doomed to repeat it” and bringing it to life.  That’s kind of what the kids in the book are being forced to realize.  Here they live in a “perfect” world, but they don’t appreciate it.  They don’t realize the horrible things that have happened in the world’s past, so they must experience it first hand at History Camp, so they can gain an understanding of what their world could be like.  Pretty neat idea!

Ok let’s talk characters – at first I really wasn’t liking the main character Hansum.  I’m a teacher, so his behavior completely drove me nuts because I’ve had students like him!! Thankfully as the story progressed he grew on me.  Now Shamira I liked from the beginning.  Yes I’ve have students like her before too, but I liked her personality.  She was very independent and stubborn.  I liked that.  Lastly there is Lincoln.  Like Hansum I found him hard to like at the start.  He’s very negative, so that was hard to see past.  He did grow on me throughout the story, but not as much as Hansum did.

Ok the plot: The story starts are pretty quickly with Hansum heading to History Camp.  I will admit this confused me at bit at first because it was so quick.  I had to read carefully to understand why he was being sent there – that it wasn’t for doing something really big but more because of his general attitude.  A little more background wouldn’t helped.  For me though the story took off when the kids were no longer in the safe environment of History Camp’s 1347 Verona.  Instead they were now in the real thing. This brought out the strength in the characters instead of their whininess and complaining.  They actually started to think and react in a way that was more responsible.  Plus the heightened tension of them now needing to survive really grabbed my attention more.

I also liked the technology in the story.  I thought it was all pretty unique.  And like most time travel books – they struggle with the danger of changing the past too much and affecting the future.  Of course the technology (Pan the Genie) they carry into the past with them adds to this!

Final thought:  Creative idea that definitely caught my attention
Best stick-with-you image: Shamira’s reaction to the killing of the chicken
Best for readers who: Like history
Best for ages: 12+
For the Guys?  Yes! 


  1. I'm not necessarily a big fan of time travel (I may just be super picky...), but this one does have a really interesting premise. Nice review!

  2. I like the dystopian aspect. I hadn't heard this. Thanks for sharing about this.