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Summary

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.

©2016 Mike Bockoven (P)2017 Brilliance Publishing, Inc., all rights reserved.

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  • Overall
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Excellent!

When I started listening to this book, I was unsure about its format. I’m so glad I stuck with it. The whole premise is scary and disturbing in that it doesn’t stretch the listener’s credulity. The author has been very skilled at exploring several themes, such as climate change, the need for humans to feel like they belong, the effects of losing technology on young adults, violence and dereliction of duty, none of which is rammed down the listener’s ears. There are several narrators, some of whom are a bit irritating, especially the one who reads as if he’s in Bill and Ted’s Big Adventure. However, it is an American story so I’ll just have to get over myself! There is a lot of violence but the whole book is well written, well structured and is one that I won’t forget any time soon. Highly recommend.

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fantastic!

i really enjoyed this book! i couldnt stop listening i needed to hear everyones stories from fantastic land! i was so realistic and pulls you right smack bang i the middle of it all... loved the narration too as this made it even more believeble! one of the best books ive purchased in a long time!

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  • T.J.
  • 12-11-17

Absurd...But awesome

This was one strange story- Performed in a 'mock interview' style, akin to 'World War Z' it was an attempt to piece together the events that happened at an amusement park that was cut off from society after a hurricane. When the rescue teams arrived they found carnage, and a place known for family fun was a complete warzone

I'm not going to bother with any particular details other than to say that it was absurd but totally fantastic, pretty well written and the performance by the narrators was some of the best I have ever heard- The Female narrator did an especially outstanding job in conveying emotion and creating different personas that were believable and so well 'acted' that it 'felt' like a real interview was being conducted.

I say this was absurd because it is- But not in a way that is unbelievable or way over the top. The fact is, I loved the story. My wife and I literally laughed at parts and cringed at others and felt emotion when it was merited...This book was made for audio, and I'm not sure how good it would have been in book form but the narration here was mind blowing, the story really draws you in and at the end you are left wanting more.

This is one of those books ill be able to listen to again and again- Which is rare for me even if I enjoy the story. I was reluctant to buy this tbh and this has quickly moved to one of my favorite audible titles.

45 of 45 people found this review helpful

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  • Lesley
  • 06-01-18

Scares are guaranteed!

I thought I'd enjoy this book based on reviews. I ended up loving it, and I'm sure it will get a second listen. In the wake of natural disasters like Katrina, Sandy, Harvey, and Maria, FantasticLand felt close to home, and it gave me more to think about than I originally anticipated.

FantasticLand is an amusement park on the Florida coast. When Hurricane Sadie hits, several hundred employees are stuck there with plenty of food, water, and shelter--but no power, and no way to communicate with the outside world. Almost immediately, the situation begins to decay, and within just a few days, the survivors have gone full Lord of the Flies on each other.

The 25 or so "interviews" with survivors and other involved parties are presented as an attempt to piece together what happened and find out what went wrong. From one standpoint, it's a brilliant way to tell this story: with so many unreliable narrators, Fantasticland is one big terrifying puzzle. Who's telling the truth, if indeed anyone is? Who were the heroes, or the villains? How did this even happen? Figuring it all out would take multiple listens and maybe even a spreadsheet.

One limitation of this form, however, is that we don't get to spend much time with each character. In some cases, that's just fine--yikes!--but in others, it seems like a missed opportunity. There are also a few extremely intriguing story elements that surface briefly and then vanish with the next interview, only to pop up later on. That can be great fun, or frustrating, depending on how much we want to know, and sometimes I wanted to know more.

I was a bit afraid FantasticLand might turn out to be a fable about The Evils of Social Media, and there was some of that, but luckily not too much. The author is generally kind to his characters, who are mostly twentysomethings, and wisely avoids painting them all as completely incompetent while pointing out that some of them were better equipped than others to survive. The narrators both do a great job with their many roles, sounding by turns scared, angry, cocky, regretful, happy, and plenty of other emotions. I was impressed at the sheer variety of voices and accents.

Overall, this was a really good listen. Without being preachy, it gave me a lot to wonder about--violence, how important communication is in human relations, why we as news watchers dwell on every detail of every disaster. Highly recommended!

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • AudioBook Reviewer
  • 31-10-17

a scarily thoughtful illustration

This book is a series of 20-something interviews conducted by a journalist after a load of young adults go Lord of the Flies in a theme park after being trapped by a hurricane. The interviews are not only with survivors who were in the park but with management staff who left before the hurricane struck, the park's owner and some of the military and police who were first in there during the rescue.

Each 'interview' gives a wide view of what went on, with some overlap between some of the stories but overall it gives you a HUGE view of what went on from a variety of different perspectives. The beauty of this being that you get a whole range of different ideas as to why people would behave in this way - the story itself is pretty simple, the staff split off into groups when they realised they were trapped and then turned on each other. This book considers how little it would take to push even the most civilised human beings into killing each other off, given the right set of circumstances.

It has some moments of goriness, but this book is a scarily thoughtful illustration of that 'right set of circumstances' so you feel yourself being swept up in the panic and violence.

There aren't the words to do justice for the narration of this audiobook - Angela Dawe and Luke Daniels turn this already wonderful book into a performance to be remembered. Each 'interviewee' has their own distinctive voice and characterisation, bearing in mind there are more than 20 characters to be split between them - this is no mean feat.
You can really believe that these are all different people giving an account of their experiences, also making it easy to split into sections to listen to during commutes etc. (I totally didn't do that, I spent all of Sunday afternoon cleaning out kitchen cupboards just so I could keep listening to it).

I am so enthusiastic about this audio that I see myself recommending it to all my friends for weeks to come, not just forcing my other half to listen to some of the gorier bits.

Audiobook was purchased for review by ABR

Please find this complete review and many others at my review blog.

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15 of 16 people found this review helpful

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  • Megs
  • 02-10-17

Brilliant!!!

This is the greatest book I've "read" in a long time. I listened to it at work and found myself stopping, mouth open, just listening to the horror. Brilliant writing especially in today's world with all the hurricanes going on. This took me back to my days working at a theme park which really enforced the creep factor. Everyone should read this book.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-10-17

Disturbing... but in a thought provoking way

At first I thought I was gonna be turned off by the interview format but I have to say it worked. Wasn’t too gory so I really appreciated that part. Definitely enjoyed it

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • rachel Mayhem
  • 02-10-17

So happy I stumbled onto this

This was a great book, now one of my favorites. I love the style and the story. Everything was so unique. I will be reading more from this author.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • diane
  • 09-12-17

Fantastic. Land.

Lord of the Flies meets today’s young people! Awesome book. Kept me interested to the end.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Cee
  • 29-08-17

Totally Believable

I listened to this audio book during the 2017 Texas Hurricane, Harvey, so to say it felt accurate and extra haunting is an understatement.
This story is told in a documentary style, a reporter shares with us the thoughts and commentary of survivors that stayed in a Florida theme park to care for it after the storm hit. It has a 'Lord Of The Flies' feel, but ... not. Tragic survivors that overreact to their situation in every wrong way possible.
It's very well written and the reason I'd chosen it was because my favorite narrator, Luke Daniels, narrates it. He does an amazing job giving each character their own personal voice, as the writer had given them specifically written personalities. This book is very engaging, supremely eerie, absolutely gross, completely realistic, utterly plausible, and held my attention enough that I listened to the entire book in one sitting. Then I listened to it again the following day.

Two thumbs up, 5 Stars, 10 out of 10, Highly recommend.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Ian
  • 16-03-18

Maybe It's Me, But...

*SPOILERS AHEAD*

As a rule, I find something that has consistently high reviews (and plenty of them) can be relied upon to deliver to some degree. This is the exception to that rule.

FantasticLand is billed as Battle Royale meets Lord of the Flies, and I'm not sure which one of those should feel more insulted by the comparison. It's nothing like as smart and controversial as BR, and falls laughably short of the genius of LOTF.

It's written from the POV of multiple witness testimonies given to the author of a book about what went on in a theme park cut off from civilisation, which stretches the vocal talents of both narrators.

The premise is that an insanely powerful hurricane isolates a theme park that was already remote, leaving the remaining staff (ostensibly to protect it from looters and other such contrivances) isolated for weeks.

During that time, society breaks down. It's gradual at first, but accelerates as time passes and supplies dwindle and... oh, wait. No, it's not gradual. It happens pretty much after one day. Apparently, deprive young adults from internet access and Facebook, and murderous mayhem will quickly follow. Supplies are plentiful we are repeatedly told, food and water both, and yet long-pig is apparently on the menu at some point. So next thing you know, factions are formed, atrocities are committed and before you can say 'well that didn't take long!', corpses are swinging from lamp-posts.

What characters there are seem thin at best, often little more than roughly sketched caricatures whose motivations are equally flimsy.

Also, a flood of the park keeps people from moving out beyond the main contested area, and yet several characters just wade out, one even setting up on his own in a luxury hotel until he's visited by two other characters who also make this seemingly impossible journey. This hotel, by the way, is one of four and, far as I can tell, no-one else seems to think wading through some foul water is a better option that being beaten to death.

The book is full to the brim with such inconsistencies which, even when they are justified, smack of little more than contrived conveniences.

Another example is that no-one is allowed to keep their phones, that they're all stored in staff lockers in a distant part of the park. So distant that early on, two characters go out there and loot the place. No-one else even bothers.

Towards the end, the writer doing all the interviewing asks why all this happened, and why so fast and so violent. His conclusions are half-baked commentaries on social isolation, reliance on technology and how teens left unattended will naturally follow the first psychopath who shows them where the stabby things are.

Honestly, it's just rubbish.

10 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • green ice cream garden
  • 31-01-18

Exceeded expectations

No need to mention the similarities with other books or the writing format as that is well covered by other reviewers. The first 3-4 chapters were slow and I was thinking DNF. Understand, I'm a Florida native, which means I've ridden out my share of hurricanes (including a 5 cat) and visited the parks at nauseam. Therefore, the first few, set-up chapters were a boring and not exactly accurate. Putting aside a the disbelief and getting past those first few interviews, wow, I couldn’t put this book down. Again, I’ve seen hurricanes bring out the best and the absolute abhorrent attributes in people. This was that scenario played out in a playground with kids. What really pushed me to give this 5 stars, because I certainly wouldn’t recommend this for everyone, is the intense creepy factor. There’s plenty of gore, but man, there were 1-2 chapters that left me doing that little shiver-shake, covered with goose bumps. Another plus, in comparison with the other YA books, little to no annoying teenage angst. Consequently, if you love your Stephen King this will be a light read and if you’re a fan girl/boy of dystopian YA this may push your envelop a little. It exceeded my expectation either way.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful