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The Annihilation of Foreverland
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81 of 83 people found the following review helpful
This was a good story that kept me interested. I read it every free chance I had because I wanted - no, I had to see how the story ended. Let it be noted that I do not read science fiction that often but I thought this book was pretty good.

It was fairly fast-paced...only a few slow parts. I liked that the reader does not have to have a background in computers to understand the underlying story and the plot. The premise was quite interesting. Imagine a remote island with a bunch of old, dying men and young, teenage boys. At first glance, you may think this is going to be very sick and twisted but the real reason behind it - while twisted - is not the way your initial thoughts may have been. These boys are given free reign of most of an island where they get to play video/virtual reality games, go to class but not have homework, hang out on the beach. They just have to have a needle inserted into their frontal lobe every few weeks and go into an alternate reality...Foreverland.

I definitely had my favorite characters and characters that I wanted to disappear into Nowhere. My favorites were Danny Boy, Zin, and Reed. I even liked Mr. Jones to a degree. I know, Mr. Jones was a "bad" guy so to speak, but he seemed to genuinely care about Danny Boy and not just for the reason he sponsored him. Zin ended up being a great friend to Danny Boy. Reed was a tragic character that you wanted to see succeed in his resistance. And Danny Boy was such a smart kid...a wrong choice for this island, that's for sure!

However, there were some things that I did not enjoy about this book. (And this is why I gave the book 3 stars instead of 4.)

In Chapter 7, the description of the boys going into the Haystack - it being Danny Boy's first time there - disturbed me a bit. I didn't think the author had to use so much detail. It was borderline obscene, inappropriate, and unnecessary to the story as a whole. I understand the author's purpose - to get the readers to feel as uncomfortable as the boys - but I really felt that parts of this description were unnecessary and just disturbing.

There were quite a few typos that detracted from the flow of the book...misspellings as well as some incorrect and omitted words - mistakes that are easily overlooked, but mistakes that should not have happened. A majority of these mistakes happened at the end of the book making me think the author wrote as fast as he could to finish and didn't think about proofreading. However, these typos and mistakes did not deter me from wanting to finish this book. They were a blip that was easily overlooked because of the action and intensity and my drive to find out how it ended.

Would I recommend it: If you are a science fiction fan, yes, I would definitely recommend this book. It is a great read with enough excitement and mystery to hook you in and not let you go until you finish.

Will I read it again: I will not. While the story was good and kept me reading, it was not a story that I would re-read. (As I said, I am not a huge sci-fi fan...I enjoy reading this genre, just not over and over.)

(I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.)
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58 of 62 people found the following review helpful
on February 18, 2012
A self-published, Kindle novel - so not me. On top of that, I think it is YA. I start a lot of these each year & never mention it because they're just not up to snuff & I hate to hurt the author's feelings. But I read this one & I'm very glad I did. It was a really pleasant surprise of a straight SF novel with a lot of fantastic elements. Quite an imaginative setup with well motivated characters, well drawn in a strange scenario that could be happening now or in the near future.

I spent the first 1/4 of the novel trying to figure out what was happening & the next half realizing I was right, but trying to figure out what the fix was. Then the last 1/4 was a mad dash to see who would win.

There were faults. Some of the plot points just had to be believed, but given the nature of the story, that was inevitable. Damn, I want to explain that more, but just about anything I say is a spoiler. Half the fun of the book is the mystery, trying to figure out just what is going on. It was a great ride & I look forward to reading more by this author.
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59 of 66 people found the following review helpful
on April 1, 2015
I found the author to be effective in these areas:

1 -- Creating the world in which this story took place
2 -- Creating and consistently maintaining an eerie mood which was appropriate for this story

I found this book to be very disturbing for these reasons:

1 -- Sadism/Torture
2 -- Sexual intimidation of boys by men
3 -- Vulnerable children being "groomed" for abuse by adults

I found this book to be disappointing for these reasons:

1 -- Plot developments and twists were telegraphed from the beginning of the story.
2 -- There was excessive and ineffective use of story ideas previously developed by others. It is perfectly acceptable to adapt established concepts for use in one's writing, but in my opinion Mr. Bertauski did not do this very well. For example, Danny Boy is not Ender.
3 -- Character development was weak, with some major characters showing essentially no growth or changes.
4 -- Although I did not like the story, what was presented could have been presented more effectively with tighter editing. I believe that Mr. Bertauski was too wordy in many places. In some places where I thought the story dragged I skipped ahead quite a few pages, and I don't think I missed much.

A work like this will find its market niche, but I cannot recommend it for anybody. I particularly find it inappropriate for children and young adults.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on April 9, 2012
I was confused at the beginning of this book. Not in a bad way; I wasn't frustrated or uninterested in what was going on, but I spent the first couple chapters thinking "What is going on here?". It took a little while to get my bearings in this story. I felt kind of tossed into the middle of a conspiracy. Since I've finished the book, I am pretty sure I was.

Bertauski has painted a very interesting picture. All kinds of comparisons floated through my mind as I read this story: Neverland, Pleasure Island, The Matrix, that island from "Lord of the Flies"... However, Foreverland does have a flavor of its own.

I enjoyed Danny's journey and although the beginning of the book was disorienting, I like the direction it took. I wasn't prepared for the way the plot was structured, but I think that's why I liked it. Once I had my bearings, I raced through most of the book. To me, it was quite obvious that something hinky was going on as soon as it became apparent that Danny wasn't the only guy with a hole in his forehead and a suspicious lump in his back. Things pulled together wonderfully. I was glad that while I guessed right, it was more complicated than I thought, and the results of the actions taken in the book made for an interesting and satisfying conclusion.

--Katherine X, Kindle Book Review
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Let's be honest, fellow Brave Indie Reader, when you download a free indie book without knowing anything about the author, your plans to kick back and relax with a good book for a couple of hours can quickly go swirlin' down the ol' crapper. You're cautious as you tap-tap-tap your way through the first few pages. Don't diss me for being weak, but despite being duped before, I downloaded The Annihilation of Foreverland solely on the title and cover art. No pouring over reviews or even the description. I literally went in completely blind. What a pleasant surprise to find such a talented storyteller with nothing but my Kindle Fire and a wifi connection.

I absolutely loved the premise of this book. A group of teenaged boys on a beautiful island with everything they could ask for; unlimited food and video games, a comfortable room, no real school or homework. They get to do pretty much whatever they want. The catch? Every two weeks their handlers, or "Investors", take them to the Haystack where they are stripped and made physically miserable until they take the needle -- where they get to escape their discomfort in an alternate reality. Eventually, when they're "healed" by their sessions in the Haystack they get to graduate, although none of them know quite what that means.

I won't give away too much of the plot, but let's just say it's a well-woven tale with twists and turns that you don't expect. You start thinking, "Oh, so THAT'S what's going on," only to find you are wrong a few pages later.

As I've mentioned before I'm a character-driven reader, and Mr. Bertauski does an excellent job of drawing me in with well-rounded characters that I cared about. Danny Boy and Reed's plight kept me turning the page, and even the minor characters had my sympathy and/or disdain. Computer hacking genius Danny Boy goes into the needle to find answers and escape -- real escape, from the island; Loner Reed refuses the needle with a Zen-like determination, visions of a lovely redheaded girl encouraging him to keep his resolve.

Having three boys myself, a 12-year-old, a teenager, and a college student, the notion that despite the discomfort of the Haystack many of the boys didn't seem to mind it, even looked forward to it, intrigued me. The prospect of going "in the needle" and into foreverland, where literally anything is possible -- like a virtual reality video game where you have every superpower you can imagine and as real as you sitting here right now reading this review - is just too much of a draw for most of the boys to resist. Would you? Tempting. Kind of like the lure of drugs, they know better but just can't resist.

On the other side of the coin (or the island) the Investors' motivations are a study in greed, narcisissm and the skewing of modern society's moral compass. Again, you have to look at yourself and ask, "If given the chance, would I succumb?" Hummmm. . . .

While I think this book is geared toward the YA crowd, it is also a good, fun, easy sci-fi read for adults. I enjoyed the ride, and will encourage my sons to read it also.

Tony Bertauski is definitely an indie author to watch. He's a wonderful storyteller with a unique imagination, and I won't be surprised when a major publisher picks him up. Actually, in my humble opinion, I think The Annihilation of Foreverland would make a great movie.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on December 31, 2014
This is a very badly written sci-fi novel with a not very original premise. The writing is extremely amateurish and I'm not just talking about the frequent typos and grammatical errors - I'm talking about the lack of character development, stilted prose, painfully awful dialogue, and the confusion caused by jumps in point of view.

*SPOILER ALERT*

The premise is that "bad" boys are kidnapped and taken to an island where they are trained to let their minds go into a virtual reality. They each have an investor - a sickly, old man in each case - assigned to them. It soon becomes obvious - long before the reveal - that the old men intend to take over the young bodies while the boys' minds are left in the virtual world. One boy is a master hacker from his previous life and manages to attack the system. This idea of stealing someone's body to take advantage of their youth has been done frequently though if handled much better, probably could have been pulled off. Don't waste your time.
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31 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on July 4, 2012
This was an interesting read most definitely. The plot was engaging and inventive. Where the world came crashing down for me was, unfortunately, in the writing. I do not mean to beat a dead horse and I am far from one of the easily found "grammar Nazis" that are abound in this age of everyone being either a self-publishing novelist or a self-made critic, but ouch the writing here stung. Normally every reviewed book has one or two of these and I come to find that I can not even identify the mistakes. But, this was the exception. I found no "Nazi" reviews but numerous and blatant grammar errors.

Single letter typos popped up, which is easily forgiven. However, the dropping of whole words leading to incoherent sentences is not. Nor is the constantly shifting point of view jumping from one person to the next mid-chapter forcing the reader to stop and think, "Wait, who the heck is is this?" conducive to a good reading experience.

Overall though, I would recommend this to someone looking for a light, tech oriented, sci-fi read who does not mind looking past the typos.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on February 16, 2012
This science-fiction novel wasn't what I expected, and I am glad of that. This book was so well-written that once I got into it, I didn't want to put it down. Plus there is a killer twist in the end and I always love that in a story!

The main character is Danny Boy, the new "poke". The story switches between his point of view, and another boy named Reed. I found the story quite hard to follow at the start, the news articles were slightly off-putting, but eventually it all starts to make sense. If you tend to pick up on things quickly, then the reason for this island, and for Foreverland may become apparent to you quite easily, where-as for me, I didn't fully get it until the end, which made it even more exciting, waiting until the last minute to know.

I think this book would suit people of any age, and any genre - it really made me wonder if this is the kind of future we may end up looking at. Scary thought!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on May 25, 2012
I suppose a book review isn't technically the right place to get into a "books written by guys vs. books written by girls" discussion, but I'm going to do it anyway. Once in high school, my class was given two passages from a popular book series with multiple authors, one written by a male and one written by a female, and we were asked which one wrote which passage. There wasn't anything wrong with either of them, and based on the passages we were given, almost the whole class agreed that we'd want to read both novels. But the woman's passage was centered on descriptions of the clothes, the people, and the horses. The guy's passage didn't give us any description of the horses or the people, but I had a perfect image of the sword the hero carried.

It's just that our brains are wired differently, and that's fine. For the most part, I don't think that a serious reader of any sex would have a problem reading a book authored by a differnt sex. But with that in mind, I walked away from this novel thinking that it's definitely more of a "guy's story" than a girl's. I can't give you a very specific description of Danny Boy at all, other than that he has red hair and he's probably pale considering that he's called "Danny Boy" and it just sounds Irish, but I can tell you that he doesn't have as much pubic hair as the other boys, that he is uncomfortable with the size of his sex organs, that he's embarrassed by having to get naked, and that one of his friends told him not to let his testicles touch the concrete floor, but that it wasn't a problem anyway because it was so cold he didn't think they'd reach.

Maybe that's how young teen boys talk to each other. I wouldn't know, considering that I'm not one. But this kid is unquestionably jailbait and I feel like a creep.

Now that that's out of the way, I devoured this book. Seriously, it was very well thought out, and it kept me guessing. I wanted to finish this book as quickly as possible, even though there were typos and formatting errors and usually that kind of thing annoys me. I wanted to finish this book even though between the title and the description, you can kinda figure out what's going to happen. Even though I felt like a creep. Even though it was written with revolving points of view, which is hard to write and even harder to enjoy. I'm not saying these things didn't get on my nerves, but I am saying I enjoyed the story enough that it didn't stop me from plowing through.

I feel like I can't discuss much of the plot at all without spoiling something, so the very basic outline is that young boys wake up on a supposedly uninhabited island with very limited memories. They're cared for, fed, sent to classes, and kept happy and busy. They're also all criminals or some other form of miscreants, and each boy has an older man called an "Investor" who is responsible for the primary happiness or what have you of each boy. Unfortunately, all of the Investors are unquestionably creepy, which somewhat detracted from my enjoyment of the book. (I kind of kept holding my breath for rape to happen. It didn't, thankfully; I walked away feeling disgusting enough without having to witness the rape of an underage boy.) The Investors are supposedly trying to rehabilitate the criminal boys, though it's pretty obvious that's the furthest thing from their minds, since their rehabilitation involves stripping them naked and locking them in a freezing room for two days with needles in their brains.

There is one boy, Reed, who refuses to submit to the needle torture because he has dreams of a girl (the only girl in the entire novel) who tells him to resist. He doesn't have the first clue to whom he might be, as the boys have to "discover" their memories by submitting to the needle treatment that he's refusing, but he has the vague idea that the girl is real and that he loves her, or loved her at one point, and the feeling is strong enough to strengthen his resolve.

There is another boy, Danny, called "Danny Boy" through the novel, that arrives on the island in the beginning of the book and it's through him that we discover what's going on. Danny Boy is a bit smarter than the average bear, and he figures out from the first moment of waking up that something's not right. He doesn't resist the needle, though, and he meets the girl that Reed's dreaming about. Because of that, he and Reed become something like friends.

I've already said that I feel like the plot and storyline were very well done. Something that really irritates me while I'm reading is a copout, and I honestly didn't feel like there were any in this novel. When characters figured something out, it was mostly in a believable way. I say "mostly" because there is some suspension of disbelief here, but that happens when you read science fiction or books where the premise revolves around sticking a needle in your brain. Through your skull. So I mean, yeah, there are some things that happen that, when I look at them in a real-world context, make me want to laugh. But within the context of the world in the novel, they make sense.

There were some typos and some formatting errors. I remember at least one instance (near the end) where Danny Boy was learning something about Reed but kept reading "Danny" on the page anyway. Being an X-Men person, I have an automatic knee-jerk reaction when someone types "rouge" when they meant to type "rogue" and I saw that one too (though admittedly it had nothing to do with mutants). For the most part, I saw a lot of unnecessary line breaks (as in, the middle of a sentence) and they're really what threw me off and out of the story. The formatting issue is what really annoyed me the most and is honestly probably what's mostly keeping me from giving this a five-star review. And I feel just a little bit like I'm being unfair, because I don't know where to place the blame for that. The other reasons are the creepy feelings that I'm still trying to work past, and the revolving POV issue, which wasn't poorly done, it just makes it harder to identify with any character.

I can get really nitpicky with books, so if this I the worst I have to complain about, it's a good thing in my opinion.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 11, 2012
I enjoyed reading this book and was fortunate to read it as a book to review on goodreads. I found the beginning to be captivating; although I was confused about what was going on, the author immediately had my interest. I loved the concept of the alternate realities that were all linked but somehow different. And it wasn't until the end of the book that I really knew everything that was going on, but it was thrilling trying to find out. I also loved the author creating the island which seems to be paradise and yet it is really horrific what happens there, as people strive to create life eternal they become monsters. Although I loved the story, the characters, the plot, and the themes of this book, I was frustrated several times throughout my read by typos and editing errors. It bugs me when I am reading and feel like I should have helped edit the version of the book I am reading. especially since I quickly was engaged by this book, it was frustrating having to stop short in sentences because of editing errors.

I give it a 4/5 stars and would recommend it highly.
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