by Ian Beck
I picked this book up on a whim at Powell's the weekend before Thanksgiving. The front flap description sounded interesting. It sounded like shades of Running Out of Time by Margaret Peterson Haddix and the Stoneheart Trilogy by Charlie Fletcher. Both of which I enjoyed. So I decided to give it a shot. Unfortunately, this book doesn't quite live up to its potential.
Pastworld is a sort of amusement park/historical preserve of 1890s London. The actual story takes place in the future, even though all the events take place within the park of 1890s London, so it's almost like it's set in the past. Confused yet?
The characters don't really do much and thus read as unimportant, even though they are the "main" characters. Eve, who is essentially one of the most important characters of the book does nothing but run away and join the circus (yes I'm serious), where she finds she has an amazing knack for tight-rope walking! (Forgive me if this does not qualify as an interesting character to me).
Bible J is an interesting fellow to some extent but he's given virtually no background and no believable motivation for anything he does.
The Fantom I had high hopes for. From the first page he is mysterious and sinister and all the things a great villain should be. Shortly after though he becomes nothing more than a cardboard murderer who has a penchant for cutting hearts out (and with a little too much detail from the author on that aspect - yuck!)
And the ending!! It was the most bizarre ending. And I'm going to **spoil** it, so reader beware: The "twist" is not fully explained. We learn that Eve and The Fantom were created for the park, but we don't learn much about how and what they actually are. Certainly not mortal since the Fantom jumps off buildings but never dies and Eve was created to be killed and then resurrected. I want to know how this is supposed to work! Also, we're left not really knowing what happened to the Fantom - he just gets away and...that's the end?! The author tries to make it sound like he won't come back, but judging from what we just learned about his nature and origin, doesn't it make sense to assume that he WILL come back? No one is concerned though, so book over! And randomly, Eve is pregnant. Why would they even create her in a way that she could reproduce when her whole purpose was to just die over and over? And did she and Bible J ever even kiss? Where they heck did this come from? It felt oddly out of place in the book. So in the end I was left unsatisfied. **end of spoilers**
It gets two stars because I like the concept and for the first half or so it seemed promising. Second half get 1 star or less - could have been so much better!