Pastworld by Ian Beck
Publication Date: September 29, 2009
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Keywords: dystopia, travel, murder
Format Read: Hardcover from publisher (thank you!)
Summary: Pastworld is the greatest theme park ever devised. It's 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.
I was so excited. Let me repeat, SO EXCITED to read this book. Historical fiction is one of my very favorite genres, and I just spent last semester in England, learning about all sorts of historical time periods and events that happened throughout the course of the English history. So I was SO EXCITED to read this book. And it was a struggle to continue reading it once I started.
From the beginning it didn't seem so bad. There was an interesting plot line developing. Eve, the child who was being taken care of by blind Jack, ran away because she didn't want to be a burden. Turns out, Jack was supposed to be protecting her, and we figure out early on it has something to do with a project called Prometheus. Sounds great, right? So then Eve runs to a circus, where she is strangely good as tightrope walking. Good, right? And then there's Caleb, and he and his father are visiting Pastworld and get caught up in a mysterious fight with 'ragged men' and Caleb ends up with a pocket watch that has an inscription on the back. Still awesome, right?
But this is how the book continued the entire way through. By page 300, I still didn't have any of my questions answered, nothing was explained, and the character points-of-view kept switching. Super frustrating. By the end of the book I was still just as disappointed. I was upset with the explanation for Eve and her super awesome tightrope skills. I was upset with the little background given for Caleb. The story seemed to involve his father and Jack more, so I was confused why Caleb got his own voice and narration in this. It also seemed like there were too many minor characters that were really unnecessary to the story. Quite frankly, I can think of about 4 that could be deleted and no one would ever know they were there to begin with.
Overall, I was just left disappointed with everything. This book had so much potential, and it just fell short. I feel like it's a draft that somehow missed a content editing session and things weren't cleared up. I still might look for Beck's future stories just because of how interesting the premise is, but I'm not going to get my hopes up.