Review: Fantasticland by Mike Bockoven

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.

FantasticLand by Mike Bockoven. Narrated by Angela Dawe and Luke Daniels. Published by Brilliance Publishing Audio, August 2017. Run time is 10 hours.

Wow. This book is CRAZY. I don’t even know how to start the review, HA!

I’ll start with this- FantasticLand is just a brutal book. It is basically a modern Lord of the Flies in DisneyWorld, heading on a fast lane to Mad Max territory. It is just insane. And savage. Yes, insane and savage. Most of the stuff that goes on between these tribes of teens is just…. whoa.

I know some of the complaints are that the book is unrealistic. I really don’t know about that. I think without rules and people in charge, things would definitely get a little crazy, but then you add in a horrible natural disaster / deadly weather. It would be even worse! The author may have exgerated how fast it would happen, but there is no way everyone would just get along and peacefully wait weeks to be picked up. You would have very scared, freaked out people. You will have fighting. You will have hoarding. There would be groups getting together to stay seperate. It seems completely plausible. Slightly exagerated, but still plausible!

The book is set up as an interview and there are a lot of characters that are introduced. Not all of them have multiple interview sessions. Most are a one and done. So, technically there are a lot of characters, but you don’t really need to remember all their names. Basically just get the gist of what tribes did what, that is the key parts to take away. You get the important names mentioned so you know all the major players. From here, you learn all about the events of what happened at FantasticLand, from multiple points of view.

BUT… speaking of what all happened… well, I’m not really sure! Not 100% anyways. How exaggerated were the reports? What really did happen? Who is lying, anyone? Everyone? Who really did what? What all did Brock and the pirates really do to people? You get the idea that most of what is reported is true, but there is enough contradictions between the tribes, that there does feel like a small part of you is unsure. Most accounts seem to be reported from second hand information, or rumors and gossip. Are people sticking up for their friends? There are a few unanswered things that leave you wondering who did what and what really did go on.

The two narrators were phenomenal! 😮 The did such a great job, I would have never guessed it was just two people. Sounded like a full cast! Every single person was different. It was a very impressive performance from both of them.

I really enjoyed FantasticLand! It was a real roller coaster straight from the start. A real BLAST. No complaints. 100% entertained the whole time. Felt very real, like listening to a true crime show. Really loved this book. I’m pretty sure I’ll be re-listening to this book again. And again….. And again.


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