Confidential News and Reviews Early Review from Susan Chambers, Harrods on the Waterstones site An intricate and wonderful murder tale, by this superb author. Cleverly merging the future and Victorian London. By the author of the Tom Trueheart stories - darker, more involved and you won't want to put it down...Murder and mayhem abound! A book to read around an autumn fire, or just curled in the corner as the night draws in. Simply wonderful. Read it! PASTWORLD, Ian Beck, Bloomsbury, October 2009 pb ISBN 978 1 4088 0009 6 ________________________________________________________ From Jennifer Poulter Take an award-winning illustrator and put a keyboard in front of him and, IF he is Ian Beck, he will come up with a best selling novel! Ian is one of those enviable souls who can do just about everything kidlit! This latest work is proof. His first YA novel is rippling with suspense and the characters are drawn graphically, with a distinct Dickensian feel! The setting is both Victorian London, researched and described in minute but fascinating detail, and 2048 London. Our central characters are Eve, who had no family and seemingly no past, Fantom the ‘adult’ ingredient in advertising blurbs to attract the morbidly curious modern Londoner to Pastworld themepark where they can thrill to Real Ripper Crime Scenes, and Caleb, who accompanies his father into the ‘past’ on business and gets swallowed up in the seamy side of town! Other fascinating creations abound. My own favourite is the cat woman! The whole ensemble is a filmmaker’s dream come true – it is made for celluloid! I suspect there is to be another volume at some stage…..I hope so! Ian is not stranger to the best seller list. His Tom Trueheart series are winners with a younger age bracket. This foray into YA maybe his first but, thankfully, will not be his last. J.R.Poulter Jen Robinson Ian Beck's Pastworld is a young adult title that is a bit difficult to categorize. The setting is a mix of past and future. The genre a mix of mystery/thriller and speculative science fiction. But I found the premise irresistible. Pastworld is a theme park version of Victorian London. It's a fully restored, historically accurate (mostly) version of the city. Some people live there full-time, while others visit as tourists from 21st century society (they are called Gawkers). Everyone currently in Pastworld is required to dress with historical accuracy (no cell phones, no plastic, etc.). They are also subject to the laws in place during Victorian England. A murderer can be hanged, a thief can have a hand cut off, etc. This is no sanitized version of history - there are pickpockets and beggars, horse droppings and moldy cheeses. And executions. The story in Pastworld is told primarily through the viewpoints of three teenagers and one adult. Eve is a beautiful, talented girl who has lived her whole live in Pastworld, and doesn't even know that the 21st century world exists. Bible J is a resident pickpocket with a surprisingly tender heart. Caleb is a first-time visitor from the 21st century, the sheltered son of one of the founders of Pastworld. Chief Inspector Catchpole is a representative of Scotland Yard, dividing his time between the outside world and Pastworld, taxed with solving a crime. Their four stories intersect as the book progresses. A mysterious villain is also featured, though his background is far less clear. Pastworld is quite moody and atmospheric. It reminded me of Resurrection Men, by T. K. Welsh, and a bit of The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis. It's an interesting mix of past and future (as conveyed by the cover, with an airship above a Victorian-looking street). The premise is unique and compelling, and the story suspenseful. I must admit, however, that I found the narrative structure a bit confusing to read at first - beyond "this is a mystery, and I'm trying to figure out what happened" into "who are these characters and what are they doing?" territory. This resolved about mid-way through the book for me, however, and I stayed up late to finish. (And, of course, I'm reviewing from the advance copy, so there could be changes in the final book.) Beck's descriptive power stands out throughout the book. Scenes are conveyed through sights, sounds, smells, and the emotions of the viewer. Here are a couple of examples: "Few sounds were to be heard at that early hour, only the drone of the airship's engines and the mournful moans of the foghorns, which seemed almost to be searching for one another, somewhere along the silvered and twisted ribbon of river. Further away in the distance, from the deep, slumbering darkness at the centre of the city, could be heard the faint tolling of a single church bell. There was little human movement." (Page 1, ARC) "In the evening we had a cold supper of sliced mutton, pickles and bread. We ate in silence. Our cutlery clattered on the plate. Jack breathed heavily not looking at me. Since that day Jack has remained in a watchful and preoccupied state." (Page 20, ARC. The tone is different from above, because this quote is from a journal excerpt, by Eve) "The streets and buildings stretched from one side of the window to the other. Horse-drawn carriages could be seen, crowded pavements, the great dull curve of the river, green squares and parks, and white church spires, grey roofs and dark red railway trains trailing billows of steam. Even Caleb gasped. He hadn't wanted to give his father the satisfaction of seeing how interested he really was in the city below them, didn't want him to see that a great flicker of excitement had just at that moment grown, doubled, trebled, as the airship slipped gracefully through the gloomy fog bank and floated over the dreamlike city itself." (Page 68, ARC) In part because of the structural complexity of the book, and in part because of the British setting, Pastworld had more the feel to me of an adult mystery than a young adult title. There is also some pretty grim content, presented in a matter-of-fact manner (murders and dismemberment). I think that Pastworld will intrigue older teens and adults, but I don't think I'd try it with middle schoolers. I would recommend it for anyone who likes dark, moody stories, historical fiction, and/or books that cross the line between past and future. Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's Books. ________________________________ Genre: Young Adult Sub Genre: Science Fiction; Amusement Park Past, Victorian Times Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s Books Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars Back Cover: A dream of the past, a nightmare of the future in the greatest theme park ever devised. What if all of London were really an amusement park – a whole city returned to Victorian times to entertain visitor from the twenty-first century? That’s the wildly original premise of Ian Beck’s Pastworld, a high-stakes mystery set in a simulated past. Eve is a lifelong resident of Pastworld who doesn’t know she’s living in a theme park until a mysterious threat forces her to leave home. Caleb is a visiting tourist who finds the lawlessness of the past thrilling – until he suddenly becomes a fugitive from an anticquated 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 present, in whose dark purpose Caleb and Eve will find their destinies combined. This is a story that mixes the old world with Science fiction. Think of it as being a world that people can go and visit; the old Victorian London. There are people there that do not know that where they live is an amusement park. Then, through the element of murder, a killer that scares those who live there. This is such a page turning mystery. I felt like I was there running in the streets trying to work things out with the other characters. I really enjoyed this story. It was very imaginative and well written. This book will be out in November. Until next time curl up with another book and get to know another world. Lyra Rose Book Blogger ________________________________ Pastworld reviews Julia Eccleshare's comment: Take a thrilling journey into the past in this clever time slip mystery which, written in different voices from different times, takes its readers from a dystopian future to a Dickensian past. Caleb is on a tourist trip to the future when his father is kidnapped and he is accused of murder. Eve comes from Pastworld and knows nothing of contemporary life. From different worlds Caleb and Eve find themselves caught up in the murderer’s wicked plans and escape will not be easy. Mr Ripleys Review This is a really great read,one of the best books that has used the themes of Victorian and Time travel to good use. A clever thriller of a book and no end of entertainment to the reader.