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Review: Pastworld by Ian Beck

Pastworld by Ian Beck
Published by Bloomsbury

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.

I received this book from Bloomsbury for review having never heard anything about it before and was instantly intrigued by the concept. Pastworld follows the entwining stories of a variety of characters based in a theme park which is set up to be London in the Victorian era. That was enough to sell it for me (my history geek brain was very very excited about it). I loved the idea that people would actually pay good money to go back into the past and experience life as was. I drawn even further in when I found out one of the main characters had live there all her life and didn't know the world outside (it actually reminded me a little of the concept for the film the village)

The way the story was told was quite unusual in that there were a variety of view points used to tell the over arching story line rather than one narrator throughout. It did mean you got the know the characters less but did mean that you got a broader experience and introduction to the world of the Pastworld theme park. I liked the variety of characters including Eve and Caleb and particularly enjoyed Bible J. I did find Eve a little confusing at first especially her motives behind her decisions but it becomes clear why she has done as she had as the story goes on. I also loved the main villain of the piece as loved how a Jack the Ripper twist was added to the story (you can't have Victorian London without him).

The story twisted and turned wonderfully keeping me thoroughly engaged and interested throughout. I didn't see the final twist/outcome until it hit me and actually it made me want to reread the whole thing again to see if I had missed any clues as it put a real ethical spin on the entire story.

Awesome book which definitely hasn't been getting the exposure it deserves.

A huge thanks to Bloomsbury for sending me a review copy!


resugo said…
ooh...this sounds really good. Thanks for the recommendation!
Yeah, I haven't seen many reviews of this one either. I think it sounds fab. I had it checked out once from the library but didn't have time to get to it before it had to be returned. Might just have to give it another chance after your great review :)
It just looks fantastic. I love the concept