Narrator: Luke Daniels, Angela Dawe
Published by Brilliance Audio on January 01, 2017
Genres: Dystopia, Thriller
Length: 10 hours, 1 minute
Amazon, Audible, Libro.fm, Barnes & Noble, Apple
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.
I saw FantasticLand on the Audible 2-for-1 deal and decided to give it a chance. While I had never read the author before, I knew both the narrators and really enjoyed them in the past. I liked the dystopian look of the cover and when I read the blurb, I thought the story sounded really good. So, I decided to give it a try. I’m really glad I did. I had a great time with this story.
The story is written as a book, which I know sounds silly, but it is literally a story that is told in a book about the natural disaster and the aftermath that takes place at an amusement park in Florida. Each chapter is an interview, which is mostly the person telling you their story about the disaster. Each interview takes you a little bit further down the timeline.
One of the early chapters there’s interviews with a historian for the park and former director for the region’s Red Cross. Then you get an interview with a guest who was supposed to visit the park the day of evacuation. Then you start getting interviews with the employees who volunteered to stay at the park during the event. There was a bunker and plenty of food. Things should’ve gone okay, but they did not.
This story was really captivating. I loved hearing from all the people involved. You could really see how things started to go awry very early and just escalated from there. After a death in the bunker, people spread out and went to the areas they felt most comfortable and became part of a “tribe”. There was the Molemen (mostly maintenance workers who stayed in the tunnels under the park), Deadpools (people in the superhero/comic book themed area of the park), Robots (people from Futureworld part of the park), ShopGirls (girl who worked in the shops on the Golden Road, kinda like Main Street USA in Disney), Pirates (there was a pirate themed area), and the Freaks (from the World’s Circus area). There was also a Fairyland, but they didn’t last long.
As I was listening, I did compare this to Yellowjackets, where you have these kids (most of the people in FantasticLand were college students) who were put into a bad situation and things then got worse. I really got pulled into the story. The ending was different from what I expected.
As I said, it was Angela Dawe and Luke Daniels that really sealed the deal for me to grab this story. They did an amazing job. As they did each of these interviews, which was more of a person sitting down and telling their part of the story, they really made me get into each of their stories. Each person had their own voice and personality. And you could really hear the emotion as people told some pretty crazy and horrific stories about what happened in the park. If you’ve never listened to them, I highly recommend you give them a try.
Listen to a clip: HERE
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