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. (From Goodreads)
Okay. Word to the wise; there is sci fi elements, but you won’t be spending too much time in the future world. The book is mostly set in 14th century Italy. That being said, this might disappoint some readers who are looking forward to reading about a post-dystopian world. I didn’t mind as historical fiction was always something I liked to read. Mixing historical fiction with science fiction elements also provides an interesting story. The sci-fi element does make a significant impact on the story (with Pan) but it doesn’t overpower it. Which is nice, as there’s lots of historical setting descriptions to provide a good accurate setting that is easy to picture.
I thought it was interesting the author decides to make this book a post-dystopian society/setting. With all the dystopian fiction out there, this is an interesting and refreshing twist. Although not all the answers on how the setting came to be is revealed. It would have been nice to provide that bit of background information, alas it’s not necessary.
The main general plot was really good. It gets even better towards the end with a good action climax and the ending leaves you wanting to know what happens next (there is a bit of a sneak preview of the second book at the back). As mentioned before, I liked the description of the historical setting. Not only was it concise and in detail but it was enforced and repeated throughout the novel. I can only think this is because it makes the characters (and the reader included) realize how much everything is taken for granted. The constant reminder of people’s rotting teeth was rather gross, but it really does enhance the setting, and lets you count your blessings for being born in a different time period.
The three characters were nicely written and well done. I would have preferred to see more of Lincoln in this story (he is a smart aleck and has a funny quote or two). Yet the story focuses a lot more on Hansum and a little on Shamira. Lincoln does disappear for some time during the last half of the book however I am hoping he would come back with a bigger role in the second book. I’d have to say I liked how all three developed in their own way. Lincoln ends up maturing a lot as he used to be the real mouthy and rebellious one of the three. I liked Hansum, he was the steadier and unspoken leader of the three plus the love story with Guilietta provides a good part of the romance in the book – I thought they were rather cute together. Although besides Lincoln, I liked Pan a lot too. He helped the three through their adventures, but also provided a means of making their living situations improve (however it does have consequences). I’d like to know more in detail what consequence this may have in the future, but for now you do see a change in Pan’s appearance (which is comical).
With such a unique idea of the History camps and an interesting blend of science fiction and historical fiction, this book was a real fun read. It had a bit of everything in one well written book. Readers might also notice it’s also an interesting history lesson on 14th century Italy (well, at least on how people lived back then). I would definitely recommend this to other readers (I think it’s most suited for those that like YA). It’s certainly a different read and lets readers take a break from the massive amounts of dystopian fiction out there.
I give it a 7.5 out of 10