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Showing 1-10 of 20 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 78 reviews
on May 21, 2015
This was an interesting post-dystopian story of a non-Jetsons future with A.I. (I read the backstory on the author's site and it was a fun, informative read).

Hansum lives in 2347 Common Era (CE), which I believe is millenia after humans nearly drove themselves to extinction (although from mentions of the lack of religion, it might just be 2347 BC named as CE). Every human has an artificial intelligence nanny from the moment they're born. Population is controlled to where engines, transportation, roads and rails were replaced by levitation technology and some telepathic ones as well. A.I.s "could look like anything but a good imitation of a human" (pg. 3) which makes some of them quite interesting. Nanny A.I.s are essentially linked to their wards' minds.

Hansum lives at the Community of New York College, but because he's constantly mentioned as a teen, I can't determine if it's boarding school called college or a university college. Anyway, his behavior has forced the dean to send him, as well as two others (Shamira and Lincoln) to Deep-Immersion History Camp.

History camp allows anyone to learn about the past and the mistakes that can't be repeated. It also teaches them skills that would otherwise go forgotten - like cooking (which Shamira has to do) or making spectacles (which Hansum and Lincoln are apprenticing for). Actors at History Camps may not know much beyond the common language, so they simulate dialects while throwing in a few foreign terms. Many students do summer camps at History camp either as goers or actors, or will even take vacations.. Because it's usually enforced, Hansum finds it to be more like brainwashing to get youth into shape instead of helping them learn life lessons, including patience, hard work, and true struggles.

So the 3 teens end up in 14th Century the year of the Black Death. Fortunately, Hansum has a genie to help! Unfortunately, a future traveler named Arimus brings the teens to the real 1347 Verona. Armius gives them what the TV show "Farscape" calls translator microbes, allowing them to speak and understand Italian. I absolutely love how the translation works and how realistic it is when some curses don't transfer over (like merda, if I'm understanding it correctly) and also slang, like 'zippy'. Again, it's so much like "Farscape" that I have to smile.

The three are taken in as orphans by the della Cappa's, wher the husband is a former drunk, the wife has some mental disability that's been strengthened by the Master's past mistakes, a beautiful daughter, and a servant named Ugilino who has a very low status and poor manners/behavior.

Great quote: "Life is learning to always dance back into Heaven." - page 205 (59%) (Guilietta)
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on June 27, 2011
I really liked the idea of futuristic kids going back in time as punishment. Unfortunately, the first half of the book is mostly descriptions of how they made lenses for glasses and it isn't until the second half that things start to get interesting. By the time I was really getting into it, the story was over. I actually spent most of the book expecting the plague to make an appearance, because I thought it was hinted at in the beginning. Instead, it's mostly a bunch of kids making glasses and telescopes. I also got excited at the idea of them changing history and making a mess of the timeline, but that never really happened either. There were a couple characters that didn't really seem to do much, and mostly stood around in the background, occasionally being helpful. It was still an enjoyable read, but I felt like it could have been so much more.
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on 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.
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on 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.
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on August 6, 2011
So here we are, in the normal 24th century postapocalyptic dystopia....

***Hey! Wait! You must not have read that book. Postapocalyptic, yes. But utopia, not dystopia. Everyone in my future is Happy, Clean, Prosperous, and Intelligent. And they get their own robot sidekicks!***

Um, yeah, utopia. The kind of utopia where the coercive government manages to successfully, and without exception, enforce a one-child policy for multiple centuries. I didn't see any old people, so maybe you've avoided a demographic V by killing them off.

***There is no coercive government! In fact, no one even mentions the government. Enlightened people of the future only desire one child per family. And we Do Not Kill Old People! There are no demographic concerns in the future other than overpopulation. And we've solved overpopulation. Do not impose your pre-apocalyptic preconceptions on our Wonderful Future.***

Anyhow, in the Wonderful Future, there are only 300 million people on the entire planet, and the largest population center is a town of 30,000. Purely coincidentally, this approximates the populations of 14th century Earth and 14th century Verona, Italy. Indeed, everyone in the future is clean, prosperous, and intelligent. So clean that an instantly-healed skinned knee is the worst hurt most people will feel in their lives, and everyone has an immunization implant that protects them against diseases not seen on Earth in thousands of years. So prosperous that tweenage hackers can procure a grain-of-rice sized gizmo containing every scrap of information committed to writing over the history of mankind (I hope they aren't reading my childhood diary!), put it together with an artificial intelligence program powerful enough to actually make use of that knowledge base and use it to come up with nefarious plots, and wrap the whole thing up in a package small enough to hide unnoticed in the hem of a scarf - which they then casually give away to friends, because, you know, it wasn't hard to do, or even expensive. So they must be intelligent, right? But happy? Even in the most perfect of societies, there will always be the occasional malcontent. So what does the future do with the rebellious child who sasses his elders, ignores his schoolwork, and otherwise acts up?

Do they send him to the countryside, where he toils in the fields, along with the vast mass of the population, because robots and administrators don't just feed themselves? ***No! In the future, no one works in the fields. There are no manual laborers in the future. Everyone is upper middle class. Um, the robots do all the fieldwork.***

Do they send him to the robot production line, where he toils in the mines / factories / programming labs, because robots don't just create themselves? ***No! In the future, no one works in mines or factories. I guess the robots do all that, too.***

OK, so the robots produce all the food - and everything else - and raise the kids, and teach the kids, and drive the transport, and are sentient enough that they can choose their own shapes, have distinctive personalities, and cry when separated from loved ones. So, robot uprising it is, then? ***Argh. No robot uprising. The robots of the future are very happy to work tirelessly, unappreciated by their owners. Robots just love to serve Whitey, um, I mean, the multiracial brownskinned human inhabitants of the future.***

Well, what do they do with the kid, then? ***Oh, they send him to Re-education Camp!***

Re-education, huh? That sounds promising. Sleep deprivation, protein-deficiency, brainwashing, all that? 1,000 kids being alternately brutalized and ignored by one Cruel-Because-He-Cares sadist? ***What sort of violence-loving monster are you! No, nothing like that! Thousands of adults, who could otherwise be productive members of society, choose to live in little mock-historic villages, living mock-historic lives, making products with so little value to the rest of the Glorious Future that no one has ever even heard of them. We built special mock-historic villages far away from actual historical sites, because the actual historical sites are used for educational tours for good kids. The mockups look just like the real thing, but are only used for troublemakers. We send the kids there, and let them live mock-historic style until they learn their lessons!***

Whoa. You must have an awful lot of troublemakers, to go to that much trouble. ***No, not really. A couple dozen a year, maybe, planet-wide.***

Oooookay. But there's still sleep deprivation, protein deficiency, and beatings? Like it really was back then? ***How barbaric. No. A good night's sleep, balanced diet, and a sound scolding. Or sometimes we ignore them until they break. One time, someone really got yelled at, but it was only because he'd intentionally broken mock-valuable items, more than once. And he got an apology and an extra-good meal as soon as everyone calmed down.***

So how's the re-education working for you? ***Couldn't say. The last 3 kids we sent over disappeared in a shower of gold sparks. I wonder where they went.***
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It is the twenty-fourth century and human society has reached a new level. Everyone speaks Earth Common and countries do not really exist anymore. Everyone has their own Artificial Intelligence that can look like anything from a balloon with a face to an animal, but which can never look like a human.

This world refuses to forget its history and so there are places called History Camps all over the place where people reenact and live like those from the past. The History Camps help children to learn valuable lessons...especially those known as "hard cases" who cause undue mischief and who do not appreciate what they have around them.

Three such hard cases are thrown together at a History Camp that emulates Verona, Italy in the fourteenth century. Hansum, Shamira, and Lincoln are given new identities and roles in this pre-Renaissance society. With the help of a holographic genie, however, they still aim to cause mischief and ruin the History Camp Elders' plans. But their mischief attracts a History-Camp-Elder-turned-time-traveler from the future who sends the three teens to the actual fourteenth century Verona. It turns out that History Camp is a far cry from the real thing.
The teens begin introducing future technology into fourteenth century Verona with the help of Pan, the genie, and their antics may change everything. They may even change the future.

I had a hard time getting into this story at first. It may have taken me about one hundred or one hundred and fifty pages before I started connecting with the characters. Maybe it was the very different twenty-fourth century world that kept me disconnected for so long, but I think the characters played a part in that as well. Maybe it was because of how spoiled they were at the beginning and how they were so unwilling to learn. I am not sure. But as I kept reading, I started to connect with the characters slowly, but surely, and the story steadily became more interesting.

I enjoyed the differences between the twenty-fourth century, the fake fourteenth century, and the real fourteenth century. All three "worlds" were unique and gave Hansum, Shamira, and Lincoln different things to think about.

The main character is Hansum who looks like how his name sounds. The reader learns quite a lot about him, but the story is told from different third-person points-of-view so the reader gets to know all of the characters. He, Shamira, and Lincoln become like family throughout their ordeal and they also become close to the medieval family they lodge with. Hansum and his new Master's daughter, especially, become close, giving Hansum an extra incentive to make things work in this century.

The Master is a lens maker who makes "discs for the eyes". Hansum and Lincoln are his apprentices and Shamira is the house girl. With Pan's help and Shamira's artistic eye, however, they all become almost expert in lens making and even introduce the telescope ahead of time. Over one hundred years ahead of time. Introducing technology into the past can be tricky business and it really changes the lives of the teens.

I ended up enjoying this book. I was disappointed that it was slow for me to get into, but I am sure that is just personal preference rather than any fault of the author or story. There is a lot of adventure in the book as well as a bit of romance and things heat up in both areas towards the end and really peaked my interest. The Lens and the Looker is the first in the History Camp Verona Trilogy and I do look forward to reading the next installment.

Read this review in its original format at The Musings of ALMYBNENR: [...]
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on July 7, 2011
This is an exciting new series in the YA genre that will appeal to readers of various ages. Though I think it's one of those stories that shouldn't be "pigeon-holed" into just one genre or classification. While it's being marketed towards YA readers, I think dystopian, historical fiction, time travel, romance, adventure and science fiction aspects are also well represented in this work by Lory S. Kaufman. As an adult who enjoys all of these genres, including YA; I found this to be a great read.

I'm an avid reader of historical fiction. When I saw the description of this story, I jumped at the chance to be part of the blog tour. One of my favorite books/movies is Timeline by Michael Crichton. It involves a group of archaeologists who are thrown back into medieval France and must learn to survive without their modern amenities. This story reminded me of that in a vague way and I am happy to say I'm not disappointed. The Verona Trilogy is a fresh and original take on the "fish out of water" syndrome.

A History Camp where youngsters are taught to learn from the mistakes of the past is a fantastic idea. I love that our three main characters are pretty much hard-ass delinquents who are spoiled and quite jaded. They do their best to get in their own way and cause even more problems for themselves and the adults who are trying to help them. It was fun watching the three of them grow and change their perceptions of themselves and the privileged life they came from. None of them were especially likable at the start. I found myself caring what happened to them quickly as the story progressed and their hardships began piling up on them.

The extensive research done by Mr. Kaufman is very apparent from the beginning. He mixes historical facts in with the fictional tale seamlessly. I learned a lot about Verona and much of medieval life without feeling like I was being "taught". The story was enjoyable and educational and I became attached to many of the people who made the tale come alive for me. While Hansum is the one we spent the most time with in the story, I am hoping to hear more from Shamira and Lincoln in the upcoming books.

I highly recommend this book and the rest of the series.
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on June 2, 2011
A seemingly probable depiction of the state of the Earth in 2347 sets the stage for this futuristic novel. In the year 2347, the world's population has been reduced to 300 million. Three highly entertaining (troubled, trouble-makers) youths have been sent back in time to witness the mistakes made by the world we know. They are supposed to be in a controlled environment set of the past world, however they are sent back to the real past. They find themselves with no protection with the exception of a smuggled "pocket-genie" who cannot always be trusted to do the right thing when a little fun may be involved, -- and the one thing they must remember, one alteration in the past will change the future and their lives in the present forever.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. My biggest disappointment is that I have to wait until June 7 for my second e-book to be delivered to my kindle.
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on June 8, 2011
I really wanted to like this book. I really did. The whole premise and story line that make-up the book is intriguing and makes you want to turn the pages, for that alone. However, I really didn't enjoy the grammatical context and the "he said, she said" way of writing. It didn't swallow me up, as I read, to where I'm living the story, not reading bland words.

I rather learn about the characters, not have their personalities, behavior, morals stated for me. The story should build them up and let the reader decide who they are and whether or not they're significant.

It was definitely for a younger...way younger.... reader, and I didn't really enjoy the descent from the climax (if there was one) of the book.
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on August 25, 2011
I picked this up as a Kindle free book, and was pleasantly surprised. It's a fun tale of 3 children from the utopian 24th century who, their elders feel, need a lesson. So they're taken to a 15th century History Camp, a full-immersion experience complete with reenactors and elders. Unfortunately, they are then kidnapped by a wayward time traveller, and end up in 15th century Verona.
The characters are a little flat, but appealing. The story is interesting enough to have kept me up several hours past my normal bedtime.
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