09 October, 2018


Title: FantasticLand
Author: Mike Bockoven
Series: -
Genres: Horror, Contemporary
Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing
Release: October 11th, 2016
Source: ebook
Pages: 272

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Since the 1970s, FantasticLand has been the theme park where “Fun is Guaranteed!” But when a hurricane ravages the Florida coast and isolates the park, the employees find it anything but fun. Five weeks later, the authorities who rescue the survivors encounter a scene of horror. Photos soon emerge online of heads on spikes outside of rides and viscera and human bones littering the gift shops, breaking records for hits, views, likes, clicks, and shares. How could a group of survivors, mostly teenagers, commit such terrible acts?

Presented as a fact-finding investigation and a series of first-person interviews, FantasticLand pieces together the grisly series of events. Park policy was that the mostly college-aged employees surrender their electronic devices to preserve the authenticity of the FantasticLand experience. Cut off from the world and left on their own, the teenagers soon form rival tribes who viciously compete for food, medicine, social dominance, and even human flesh. This new social network divides the ravaged dreamland into territories ruled by the Pirates, the ShopGirls, the Freaks, and the Mole People. If meticulously curated online personas can replace private identities, what takes over when those constructs are lost? FantasticLand is a modern take on Lord of the Flies meets Battle Royale that probes the consequences of a social civilization built online.


EXPECTATIONS: Blurb claims this is modern take on Lord of the Flies, so that was exactly what I expected. I liked that book plenty, but I wasn't sure I want a retelling of it. So I came in expecting little enough.

THE WORLD: Nobody was prepared for hurricane Sadie. Even if they thought they were - they weren't. Even if they were - they still weren't. There's just something about lost power, lost connection, lost accountability for just this once in your life honestly no one is watching, that pushes people to insanity, extremes. This is what happened in amusement park FantasticLand. Most of it was evacuated, leaving some unfortunate souls, and some actual workers to take care of things, as per their agreement. Everything here was in abundance, so it really made no sense for things that happened to happen. But they did happen. For it takes only one match. A single violent person might push two others to huddle together, for safety is in numbers. Someone close to water supply might not want to share that water freely if there's anything to be gained. And so, tribes formed. Not gangs, no. Tribes. Primal, awful tribes. And while rescue teams worked on other points, for FantasticLand was very low on priority list, they waged war against one another, for brutality of a human being has no boundaries or limits, once given reign.

CHARACTERS: There are very many characters in this book. The most notables were leaders of two main tribes, so, Pirate, a sociopath made by circumstances, who justified his actions were simply: why has nobody stopped me? And Jill the Soldier, leader of tribe that called themselves Deadpools. There were many loners. Many people who only got their stories told via other survivors, and I felt most sad for those. And plenty, oh so plenty of true and honest maniacs who didn't stop once it was over. Who took their insanity, and carried it out into the hyperconnected world. 

ROMANCE:  There's none. Not in this apocalypse that lasted what, a month?

GOOD: This is a very different horror book. It feels too real, too realistic, too close to home, too possible. It's terrifying in the best, and the worst of ways.

BAD: I've nothing.

OVERALL: This book is told through series of interviews on survivors and rescue teams, so every chapter feels intense, real. You get into their heads, and next thing you know, another person who witnessed it from another corner - tells you a different story. It was a magnificent ride. But I will not recommend this to anyone weak of heart, or anyone who isn't up to witness humans at their very base.

What do you think about FANTASTICLAND?



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