Friday 5 August 2011

Book Review - Pastworld

Title: Pastworld
Author: Ian Beck
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Release Date: 5 July 2010
ISBN-13: 978-1408802267

Pastworld is the greatest theme park ever devised. London - the real London - transformed into a living, breathing recreation of the Victorian era.
To Eve, a lifelong resident of Pastworld, horse-drawn carriages and gas lamps are modern technology. Eve doesn't even know she's living in a simulation - until she is forced to flee the only home she's ever known, and to confront the truth about her city and herself.
To Caleb, a tourist visiting Pastworld, the theme park is the perfect antidote to the stifling conformity and regulation of 2048. The gritty wildness of the past is thrilling - until he finds himself at the scene of a murder, holding the knife, and suddenly becomes a fugitive from an antiquated justice system.
And in the midst of it all, in the thick London fog, a dark and deadly figure prowls, claiming victim after victim. He's the Fantom, a creature both of the past and of the future, in whose dark purpose Caleb and Eve will find their destinies combined

My Review
I run a teen book group at the library and they were getting bored of all the vampire/werewolf/paranormal romance thing. So when I spotted this book I thought they should try it.
They read it and returned it the next month and the majority of the group really liked it. One of the girls (whom I share similar tastes in books with) told me I should read it, so I saved a copy to read.
To be honest I wasn't particularly looking forward to it, the plot sounded very strange and a bit nonsensical. But I decided to give it a fair try and sat down with it.
I was immediately hooked into this world, You meet Eve - a young, dazzling girl who has grown up with her carer Jack, she goes everywhere with him and is not allowed out on her own. As she gets older she wants more freedom, but Jack refuses to let her out on her own. He says there is danger out on the streets, danger that will be attracted to Eve in seconds.
When a visitor comes to the house, Eve discovers that Jack is in grave danger because of her being there, and so decides to run away to protect him.
What she doesn't realize is that the world she lives in isn't real. The book is actually set in 2048 and this part of the world is a giant theme park. Set up to look like Victorian London, as people moved in and became a part of 'authentic Victorian life' it seemed so real. 
When Caleb and his father travel to 'Pastworld' they run into danger, Caleb's father is kidnapped and Caleb is accused of murder, he goes on the run and meets up with Eve.
They also both cross paths with Bible J - a street thief with powerful connections.
There is also the 'Fantom' a mysterious man, based on Jack the Ripper, who becomes more real than they could ever imagine - when dead bodies show up people start to panic.
Together Eve, Bible J and Caleb must work to stop Fantom before he kills too many.
I was hooked into the story and could see it all in my mind. The characters had so much life and depth that I felt like I had known them for years. 
There was mystery, intrigue, a light love story, adventure, and a great new story.
The writing is very easy to read and  flows well. It divides between extracts from Eve's journal to scenes with the police as they try to catch the Fantom, to the Fantom himself and to Bible J and his adventures, this works really well and gives you a whole over-view of the goings on and makes you feel like you are more involved in the story.
I really enjoyed this book, way more than I ever thought I would. I love the idea of a Giant Theme Park - recreating a slice of the past in today's world - very clever. - the only thing I would say though is that it has some quite graphic violence in it - not to be read whilst eating your lunch (put me right off my sandwich) so maybe for older teens and adults only.

My Rating
I would give this book 8.5/10 - breath-taking, a book that will take you into a whole other world. Fascinating, well researched and totally gripping.


Alyssa Nelson said...

Great review! Sounds like an awesome book. I love a good Victorian murder mystery (though, I guess in this case it'd be faux-Victorian). Thanks for bringing it to my attention. :)

barmybex said...

I hope you enjoy it. :D
Thanks for stopping by.

Jennifer said...

This sounds really good! Thanks for letting us know about it!