Thursday, June 5, 2014

Review: The Verona Trilogy by Lory S. Kaufman

BOOK #1 of The Verona Trilogy: Young Adult, Post-Dystopian Fiction 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. 

 Hansum, Shamira and Lincoln, three teens from the 24th-century, are trapped in 14th-century Verona, Italy. They’ve survived many deadly experiences by keeping their wits about them and by introducing futuristic technology into the past. Principal among these inventions is the telescope, which brought them to the attention to the rich and powerful.But standing out can get you into unexpected and dangerous situations. The nobles of Verona now believe Hansum is a savant, a genius inventor, especially after he brings them plans for advanced cannons and black powder. Being the center of attention is great, but the potential for trouble is now exponentially greater because people are watching Hansum’s every move.
Meanwhile, artistic genius Shamira has fallen for a Florentine artist with bloody and disasterous consequences. Lincoln, considered an incompetent back home in the 24th-century, has blossomed – at least until he’s shot in the head with an arrow. And Hansum, after secretly marrying his new master’s beautiful daughter, Guilietta, is offered the hand in marriage of lady Beatrice, daughter of the ruler of Verona. To refuse could mean calamity for all the teens.Amazingly, none of this is their biggest challenge. Because a rash illness is spreading across Verona – and it is threatening to consume everyone.Do they have a future in this past?

They are three time travelers desperate to return to 14th-century Verona to reclaim their medieval family s shattered lives. It is a mission fraught with danger and the risk of unexpected consequences for themselves and for their worlds. For all three, it is a matter of the heart. For one, though, it is truly the only thing that matters, as the fate of his eternal love and the life of their unborn child is the prize to be won or lost forever. In this, the final book of THE VERONA TRILOGY, Hansum, Shamira and Lincoln go on the boldest adventure of their lives. They will face hardship, tragedy, and threats from sources they couldn t have imagined all in an effort to wrestle a future from the steely grip of an unforgiving past.

Where to buy the books:
My Ratings:
  The Lens and the Looker: 3.5
The Bronze and the Brimstone: 3.5
The Loved and the Lost: 3

My Review:
The Verona Trilogy is a wonderful YA series that will impress and entertain from start to finish. The concept was more intriguing than I expected. The novels combine a post-dystopian society with 14th century Verona. It really is the best of both worlds - and both are built well.

The post-dystopian world is incredibly interesting to read about. It is similar enough to our own lives that we can still easily connect to the situation of the characters, despite all of the technological advancements that still exist. The whole idea of the "History Camps" was great to read about. (And I know it didn't always seem like the greatest, but I don't think that idea is all too bad. I mean, living in historical situations really seemed to get the right idea across.) All of the new twenty-fourth century technology was fantastic to read about. My favorite was probably the genie intelligence - as not only was Pan an example of the advanced technology, but a fantastic personality.

The characters, including Pan, are all incredibly strong and easy to relate to. It's hard to imagine how one would react to being taken from their home and being put in an entirely new world. But Hansum, Shamira and Lincoln seem to have fairly understandable reactions. They really grew throughout the series, being constantly shaped by their experiences, and that was fun to read.

In contrast, I loved the historical setting of 14th century Verona. Having visited Verona twice, the city holds a very special place in my heart. Although I have never been therein the 1300's, Kaufman manages to capture the magic of the city within the pages of the novel. The lenscrafting (or disc-of-the-eyes-crafting) really added to the setting. I didn't really think of eyeglasses being made in that time period, and it was cool to learn about the process. 

Another thing I really loved was the parallels to Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet (with their names true to their Italian lineage). The connection was clearly intended, which made an interesting addition to the plot. It makes sense too. I mean, when in Verona... Even without the romance between Romero (Hansum) and Guilietta, the plot would still be completely enjoyable. There were twists, although some portions could be a little long. The addition of the historical inventions earlier in the world's timeline made an interesting twist in regular historical fiction (as well as time travel as a whole).

The Lens and the Looker was a wonderful start to a series. It really grabbed my attention and kept it through the final page. The Bronze and the Brimstone continued the intrigue, even if the plot moved a bit slower, to fantastically conclude with The Loved and the Lost. All in all, a very exciting series that both fans of science fiction/dystopia and historical fiction fans alike will devour.

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