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FantasticLand

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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.

304 pages, Paperback

First published October 11, 2016

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Mike Bockoven

3 books228 followers

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5 stars
3,532 (33%)
4 stars
4,148 (39%)
3 stars
1,986 (19%)
2 stars
573 (5%)
1 star
177 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,858 reviews
Profile Image for karen.
3,968 reviews170k followers
July 26, 2018


yeah, five stars, what of it? i was ready to give this one five stars just on premise alone: a massive hurricane in florida isolates an amusement park full of workers entrusted with keeping an eye on things after the customers have been evacuated, and despite having plenty of food, water, medical supplies and shelter, once they are rescued by the national guard a month later, the place is destroyed, many have died, the survivors are injured, and on top of the staggering property damage, there are also corpses hanging from wires, heads on spikes, tales of spectacle-murders, cannibalism, and the warriors-style themed-gang affiliations and epic battles that led to all this violent devastation.



this is my kind of awesome.

it's told as a series of interviews from survivors, rescuers, people evacuated before it all went down, lawyers, the park's owner, etc. collected by a man writing a book on the incident, so it has the same general shape as World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, but on a smaller scale, where you get a piece of the puzzle; one perspective of the horror, before moving on to the next fresh hell. it's vivid, wonderfully gory, and as absurd as it seems on the surface - that people would deteriorate into Lord of the Flies lawlessness in under a month - given the circumstances, the participants, the escalation, the book does a good job making it seem like something that could totally happen. there's an afterword that's a little weak - some sort of too little, too late attempt to guilt the reader into a self-examination of why we are so entertained by violence that has been done, and much more elegantly, by so many others. this is not a book that should be trying to stimulate moral unrest in the reader - this should just be a straight-up romp of blood and brain matter.



despite how violent it is, i think there's crossover appeal for teen readers. the characters are mostly late-teen, early-twenties, and the whole "we are separating ourselves into groups based on really superficial characteristics" is pure YA-adventure trope. (there's even a nod to the The Hunger Games & etc in a chicks n' crossbows sequence.)



the groups here are not dauntless or district 12, they are deadpool, the pirates, the robots, the shopgirls, the mole men, the freaks, the short-lived fairy prairie, and the unaffiliated few. also, the warthogs, which are the absolute coolest pair in the book and were very wisely left mysterious, so their chilling ways were much more effective. BEST CHAPTER EVER!

me, i'd probably be with the shopgirls. i have an overdeveloped work ethic that makes it seem like the most sensible thing to do in this situation is protect thy inventory with bow and arrow, 'cuz that's your job, even if no one's gonna give you a raise for it. or pay for your funeral expenses. however, i have a soft and mooshy place in my heart for the freaks, and i definitely have a book-crush on glenn guignol, who is played by jim rose in my head.



there's only one thing i'm confused about. it's not a true spoiler, but it involves some plot-dissection that will probably be useless to anyone who hasn't read the book, so i'm gonna spoiler-tag it so no one gets bored.

that's all i have. it's a fun, fun book. warthog sequel?



***********************************************

finally got around to reading this one and now i double my advice to those of you in theme parks - get OUT! even if there's no hurricane.

review to come

***********************************************
as amazing as this book sounds, with hurricane matthew about to hit florida, i worry for all of youse down that way, lest this situation come to pass. get out of the damn theme parks, guys!

but seriously, stay safe, my friends... i will be thinking about you

come to my blog!
Profile Image for Barbie.
109 reviews300 followers
March 28, 2019


My thoughts in a nutshell
This book sucks. It was a recommendation and I wanted to read it immediately because the blurb is so exciting. I'm grateful for the suggestion but it just didn't work for me, and I'm so sorry about that. It could have been a 5 stars read.

The story is about…
Skip over this point if you don't like the sneak peek.
Some employees stayed behind in the theme park when hurricane Sadie came. They have a single task; stay in the shelter and wait until the storm ends and then take care of the park. It will be only a few days, and they get paid for it. Sounds cool, right? You have to sit in one place and wait, and you get some money for this. At some point, the light goes out and everyone panics. They have to stay for about a month, and all hell breaks loose in a few hours. The kids turned into murderers and they started to kill each other.

What impressed me the most 😊
Okay guys, I DNF it about 40%. I was listening to the audiobook and that was really cool. The narrators' voice was emotional, they got right into the story. I loved it when they screamed or cried when they've read the story for me.
The author writes the book as an interview. He asked all concerned parties what and why that happened, and everybody tells their own point of view. I like this format, especially from the audiobook version.

What I don't like at all ☹️
The plot is ridiculous and way, way far-fetched. The kids become murderers in a couple of hours. LOL, why? I swear it has no fucking reason for all of this violence. The teenagers choosed a group and started to fight the another team. WELCOME TO THE HUNGER GAMES. Ludicrous.
The violence is absurd. One of them had cut the boy's hand. OK, why? :D Because he walked there. This is just one example of many absurd scenes. Dear Mike Bockoven, what's wrong with you man? Seriously, I'm worried about you. Are you sleeping well? Nevermind. :D
The book has a lot of potential... just missing the main reason, and without it it is garbage, I'm sorry.
I thought maybe the killer guys have some mental health condition or something... but no, just NOTHING. And it hurts me so much.
In my view, if a bunch of people stuck in somewhere for about a month, they will stay together and try to survive. It is the logical way, and normal people chose this method. If someone goes crazy the others will lock him/her, or tie up, or something.
I don't know what happened in the end, to be honest, I don't care at all.
I hated when the kids continuously said that they can't survive because they don't have a smartphone or Facebook or Instagram. What the actual fuck? I love my phone but if I'm stuck somewhere where I would probably die, I couldn't think about my social media or my fucking phone. This is double-mega bullshit. Oh man, I'm so mad. Please people, don't be so stupid, just please.



Make a conclusion
I gave it 1 stars because that is the lowest rating I can give.
I don't recommend it because it is just a poor novel. If you want to read this, just throw away and read something better.
Profile Image for Regina.
1,136 reviews2,678 followers
June 29, 2021
When does horror become gorror? Apparently as soon as it crosses the turnstiles to enter FantasticLand, Mike Bockoven’s 2016 take on Lord of the Flies set in an amusement park.

Structured in the increasingly-prevalent “oral history” format of a series of interviews, characters reveal their survivor stories from the depravity that ensued after a hurricane stranded teenage theme park workers for five weeks. For some reason that the author takes pains to explain can’t be explained, the kids go all savage Hunger Games almost immediately. We’re talking chopping off body parts and putting them on stakes, just ‘cuz.

While I hope my horror-loving friends won’t disown me, this was a big steaming pile of NOPE for this here reader. Horror isn’t for everyone, but I do find enjoyment in the genre from time to time. That enjoyment usually comes from feeling either scared or entertained. FantasticLand didn’t make me feel either of those things. Honestly the only thing I felt for the final 50% was that I wanted it to be over.

Perhaps after the trying year we all had in 2020, stories where people are debased to the lowest of the low just don’t appeal to me anymore. I hate giving books one star, but according to Goodreads two stars means “it was ok.” It was not.
Profile Image for Jane.
384 reviews602 followers
August 27, 2018
My, oh my, oh my! 4.5 I-dunno-what-I-just-read-but-I'm-pretty-sure-I-loved-it stars for the audiobook version narrated by all-stars Luke Daniels and Angela Dawe.

I was hooked right from the first chapter of FantasticLand. The premise here is that an author is writing a book about what went down at the FantasticLand amusement park when a few hundred employees were stranded there for a few weeks after a hell of a hurricane. Each chapter is presented as an interview with a different person who was affected by the events.

I love books that switch perspectives from chapter to chapter, and this one does it in spades. Daniels and Dawe do phenomenal voice work here -- each of the characters had a unique voice and and they were just so darn real!

description

This book will completely suck you in and make you believe in FantasticLand and the tragic events that unfolded there. Author Mike Bockoven has written this in such a realistic way with gritty details that it truly reads like a compelling real-life documentary.

Be forewarned, though, that this is a really dark story, and part of the realism comes from the various interviewees describing things in very graphic detail. While I've certainly read and watched more graphic violence than is portrayed in this story, the fact that this feels so real will leave you feeling more unsettled than you expect. I learned the hard way that this was not good bedtime reading material.

description

If you like exploring the darker side of human nature then be sure to check this out. Bockoven's writing shows real talent and skill -- I'll definitely be adding his next offering, Pack, to my watch list. (Edited 08/27/18: I watched for, and then I tried Pack, but it was not my cup of tea. I do not recommend it to readers who are going to try it solely based on liking FantasticLand.)

Badass Female Character Score: 5/5

The author has very successfully created a cast of characters who are incredibly balanced. There are heroes and villains; assholes and sweeties; and wimps and fighters, but none of those roles were necessarily determined by gender. Many of the women portrayed here are strong and fought hard, giving just as good as they got.
Profile Image for Jilly.
1,838 reviews6,209 followers
January 21, 2019
For those of us who felt like the Hunger Games, Battle Royale, and Lord of the Flies didn't have nearly enough killing and violence. People who are just jonesing for some teen-on-teen brutality and bloodshed: It's gonna satisfy your itch!

This book is written as a series of interviews with the survivors from a massacre at an amusement park. There was a group of employees - like a couple hundred - who became stranded there without rescue after a hurricane for a month and all hell broke loose.



The thing is, you would think that the complete breakdown of societal rules and civility would take longer than a couple of days, but that photo is of day 2. For all they knew, their rescuers would be showing up that day and the park would reopen in the morning. That's how fast they lost their shit.

They had been dressed up in princess and mouse costumes, posing for pictures with little children just the day before, and now they are stabbing each other with the props and hanging dead bodies as warnings to the other "tribes" off of teacup rides?



Seriously, you had to wonder how long these young adults had been plotting imaginary murders in their heads, they took to it so quickly. They didn't even try to get along for a minute. They lose power and suddenly everyone joins a tribe and starts killing. They are putting heads on pikes within days of the storm! Is our society really so fragile? Are we all just a power outage away from becoming a bunch of Hannibal Lectors?

And then I remember that this book is set in Florida...



All of my doubts about humanity were laid to rest. Everyone knows that Florida is home to the batshit crazies of the world.


(In all seriousness, I could have flooded this review with Florida crazy memes... there was just so much material....)

So, read this book for the killyness and bloody fun, but then get on Google and check out the Florida crime memes. I promise you will be entertained!
Profile Image for exploraDora.
518 reviews249 followers
July 5, 2022
**2 mediocre Stars**

I don't know how to review this book...

For starters, I want to say that did like and enjoy parts of it. BUT. Up until the last few "chapters", I didn't really understand what was happening most of the time, or better said WHY all those things were happening.

When a hurricane hits Florida, the area around the theme park "FantasticLand" is completely flooded, which leads to it being cut off from the mainland for over a month.

Even though the hundreds of employees stranded there have everything they need to survive comfortably, shortly after the storm, they start forming these crazy groups and they engage in these bloody battles with each other.

The book is written as this sort of book research, by a journalist named Adam Jakes. He assembles the accounts of what went so horribly wrong through interviews with subjects ranging from a 'FantasticLand historian' to many survivors, to the infamous leader of the Pirate tribe.

My biggest problem with this book was that I often found myself thinking there has to be some supernatural stuff coming up. I thought that there must have been some strange thing about hurricane Sadie that drove people mad, because why else would they start killing each other off in the most gruesome ways possible? Sadly, that was never the case.

I couldn't help but think that in a situation like this, where a group of people are left stranded somewhere for a long time, the logical thing to do is stay together, then find shelter, food and water. Then try and stay alive until someone comes to rescue you. Not to form weird groups and murder other fellow survivors for no fucking reason :|

Up until the final chapter, I couldn't wrap my head around it all and I guess I'm still not that happy with the explanation we get in the end. It just wasn't good enough for me.
Profile Image for Michelle .
846 reviews1,181 followers
October 5, 2018
"Of the 326 employees who stayed behind in the park, 207 were eventually evacuated. The fate of the 119 missing souls may never be known, but evidence of death and slaughter was immediately apparent. Photo's soon emerged: heads on spikes outside of rides, corpses floating in detention cells, and viscera decaying in the humid Florida sun. FantasticLand, where "Fun Is Guaranteed!", was covered in blood. There were human bones littering the gift shops. It was all the country could talk about. The coverage crossed all media, breaking records for hits, views, likes, clicks and shares."

Well that was a bloody (very bloody) good time! I know many people will read that above quote and know instantly how repulsive it is and will steer clear of this book. Me? I say bring it on, Bockoven, let's see what you got!

Chapter 18 was scary. Really f-ing scary and I rarely ever make that statement. I don't think I will ever forget it.

If you love horror and all things gory then this is one I would highly recommend!
Profile Image for Kelly (and the Book Boar).
2,393 reviews7,247 followers
November 15, 2018
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/



FantasticLand is getting every Star and I ain’t even sorry.

Like the blurb says, this story is a modern-day . . . .



Ha! I keed. It truly is Lord of the Flies meets [insert battle to the death book/film of your choosing here]. More specifically it is about . . . .

What happened in FantasticLand during the thirty-five days dubbed “The Battle of the Tribes.”

Here’s the deal: In the Fall of 2017 Hurricane Sadie was being tracked off the coast of Florida. It was anticipated she would be a wreaker of havoc, but no one ever anticipated her effects would be felt so far inland and just how powerful she would become. Basically, the only thing that could have been worse is . . . .



While the National Guard, local authorities and all humanitarian efforts were focused on the coastal regions, 326 employees of FantasticLand were left to their own devices. Weeks later, 207 were evacuated. This is the story of what happened, told in interview format by the survivors. It was oh so very . . . .


(If you haven’t seen that movie, you really need to rectify it immediately or there’s a possibility I will defriend you. j/k. *cough* maybe *cough*)

This was everything it should have been. Gory, nauseating, action-packed and a story that didn't miss a beat from the first page to the last. I luuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuurved it.
Profile Image for Char .
1,595 reviews1,441 followers
October 4, 2022
NEW THOUGHTS

This was a re-read of a favorite from 2020. It was just as good as I remembered it to be!

Told through a series of interviews after the tragedy, FANTASTICLAND tells the tragic story of what happened to a bunch of internet dependant teens and young adults, when the amusement park at which they were employed, is flooded and isolated after a huge hurricane. After weeks spent on their own and unconnected, these kids turned to...other things for their entertainment. Many people did not make it out alive. 

I had forgotten about the opening wherein Hurricane Sadie devastates the area of Florida where Fantasticland is located. It made for a timely read considering what just happened with Ian. 

These two narrators are beyond good and I think this is one of those rare cases where the audio might be elevated by the voicing of the parts. I don't think this would have been as spellbinding if I read it, instead of listening to it.

My original review:

If LORD OF THE FLIES was set in a flooded amusement park, it would be FANTASTICLAND.

I loved everything about this audiobook! Both of the narrators were excellent, which is good because each one of them voiced many characters throughout the tale. The story was told via a series of interviews that happened well after the fact. The reader is left to pull it all together in their mind. These narrators were so excellent, they sounded like entirely different people from interview to interview.

It's very scary to think about today's youth and/or young adults. They have to have something to amuse themselves every second of the day, it seems like. Cut off from phones and the internet, they are left with nothing to do and it turns out, there's nothing scarier than a group of bored teens.

The story was excellent, the narrators were excellent and I cannot wait to read more from this author!

My highest recommendation!

Get your copy here: https://amzn.to/3hyz5Ho

*I bought this ebook AND the audiobook with my hard earned cash.*
Profile Image for Ginger.
721 reviews317 followers
June 10, 2021
This book was fun, gory, and a whole lot of crazy!

I liked the format of the book as well. The chapters were in interviews after everything goes down with the hurricane and theme park.
I can imagine the audiobook for this would be great in that type of format. I did not do the audiobook but I heard it's great!

FantasticLand is about a theme park in Florida that’s been around since the 1970s. It’s super popular, has tons of rides, and the park is separated by different themes.

Each area in the park is different and completely unique to anything else in the park.
There’s the Fairy Prairie, the Golden Road, the World’s Circus, the Hero Haven, Fantastic Future World, and the Pirate Cove.

Sounds like a cool theme park, but here’s the thing.

A hurricane is coming to wipe out most of Florida and the park is going to be isolated and half destroyed from the storm.
All hell is about to go down with management and the teenagers/young adults who work there.

This book is the love child of Lord of the Flies and a theme park like Disneyland.
If you can suspend some disbelief with the plot, I think you’ll enjoy the hell of this book.

One: It’s a horror book and in my opinion, that genre is not the most believable.
It's a fun, creepy and scary genre to read though.

Two: It’s a bunch of teenagers and young adults with no cell phones, social media or adult supervision. Hello teenage angst and hormonal, raging monster kids!
And management has completely dropped the ball on survival and crisis organization for the park.

Three: It’s in Florida.
Have you ever googled “Florida Man” and your birthday?
Yeah, about that. I’m not sure what’s going on in Florida but nothing surprises me now with the stories that come out of the state.
It’s like me being surprised by “another” serial killer in Washington State. 🤷🏼‍♀️🤣

Definitely glad to finally read this one!
It's been on my to-be-read list for sometime now.
Glad to read this with the Horror Aficionados group. It was fun to see the reactions and opinions about this one!
Profile Image for Melki.
5,575 reviews2,308 followers
April 22, 2017
You'd be amazed how quickly rumors can grow and get out of hand when kids don't have the constant distraction of their phones to check every twelve seconds.

I don't know what this says about me, and I'm pretty sure I don't want to know, but I LOVE books about people behaving badly in the face of a crisis. There's just something so enticing about the fact that the times we should all be working together are the times we're most likely to declare that it's every man for himself. Aliens attacking? Zombies on the loose? Time to barricade the basement doors, and hunker down with our bottled water and our cans of Spam.

The big crisis in this book is the MOAH - Mother Of All Hurricanes - which smacks into the eastern coast of Florida with unprecedented force. A few hundred park employees of FantasticLand have been contracted to ride out the storm within the park's confines to guard against looting. Like most amusement park workers, they are nearly all in their teens and twenties. Things are going okay down in the underground bunker . . . until the power goes out. Panic, mayhem, and chaos roll in, and five people are dead. That helps enforce the fact that NO ONE is in charge, and after the storm passes, the super-disgruntled park staff emerge from the earth, and split into warring factions hoarding food, and defending their own areas of the park. Time passes, and the cavalry doesn't show. Things get more and more desperate. No one can post stuff on Facebook or check their messages. The bodies start piling up.

The story unspools in a series of interviews with the survivors, and their rescuers. That's a whole lotta unreliable narrators, which only adds to the fun. Whose version of the truth should we believe? I did have a few minor problems that kept me from tacking on that fifth star: all characters seemed to possess about the same intelligence level, and spoke using virtually the same voice, AND, there was no real big smackdown

Well, enough nitpicking. On the whole, the book satisfied my bloodlust, and managed to reassure me that people are really good basically scum at heart. I honestly can't remember the last time I was tempted to call in sick to work so I could stay home and read.
Profile Image for خلف زون | Khalaf Zone.
25 reviews2,416 followers
September 10, 2022
“it’s that a person gets stupid when they become people.”

Easily the best book I've read in 2022 (so far.)

FantasticLand (the theme park) is a large theme park separated into factions. it was supposed to be that way so any visitor could experience many different parks in one. you got the Pirates, the Fairies, the Robots and more.

all of which are sections of the park with different employees and leaderships. in a normal day that's practical, but when a hurricane hits Florida, trapping those employees in the park for weeks, that turned the groups into tribes fighting for their own survival (and enjoyment for some.)

This novel is told in an interview style, similar to World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War and that format made it more disturbing.


Reread review:
for the 2nd time reading this book I had to lower the rating to 3 stars instead of my initial 5. I firmly believe now this book would've been more effective had the author not exaggerated some things. specially the gore.
Profile Image for Misty Marie Harms.
559 reviews277 followers
January 6, 2022
Hurricane Sadie is barreling onto Florida's coastline. FantasticLand, an amusement park, is in the line of fire, Operation Rapture is put in use. 320 employees are to remain inside the park to prevent against looters, theft, and general shenanigans. Left with enough water, food, and supplies, they could have lasted months before helped arrived and would have been fine. Management's decision to leave mostly young adults there with no power or cellphones was not a wise decision. Soon the park becomes divided into tribes. Tribes start killing each other over supplies, food, and general boredom. There is a real cannon being fired from Pirate's Cove, right along with hanging bodies from the lamp lights. The cashiers become archers, firing off shots from high above the ground. What happened over in Circus Land is creepy and involves skin. Utter chaos everywhere. I loved it!
May 16, 2019

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FANTASTICLAND was an unholy amount of fun, in that "I'm going to hell for enjoying this" sort of way. I think the best way to blurb it is by saying that it's like LORD OF THE FLIES, if LORD OF THE FLIES was delivered in a mock-documentary format like WORLD WAR Z - only it's much better than either of those two books. Basically, there's a theme park called "Fantastic Land" that is utterly devastated by a gigantic hurricane called Sadie. Escape from the park is cut off by water, and everything loses power. The employees are marooned there, but with plenty of food and water. Seems like things should be OK, right?



That's what everyone else thinks too, at first. Until the bodies start piling up. The employees separate into "tribes" based on which parts of the park they take over as their command centers, and things start getting pretty brutal, pretty fast. Each interview, with various "survivors" and other people who were either directly or peripherally involved with this horror show, give you more information about what went down, and it is chilling.



I made the mistake of reading this late at night and ended up staying up until midnight on a work night because I wanted to find out what happened next. A lot of people criticized this book, saying it was ridiculous and wasn't realistic, and I think that was a critique of LORD OF THE FLIES, too. Personally, I thought it felt realistic, as people are herd animals who do utterly stupid things in crowds when they think the rest of the group's OK with it (see: Trump voters), and cruelty can sometimes be a more advanced and sociopathic byproduct of cruelty, so I bought it.



I liked that everyone had their own "voice." I liked that everyone tried to rationalize their actions and point the finger at someone else, who was "worse." The public displays of violence for power, the savage coups, and the scavenging and fringe behaviors were really fascinating from a psychological perspective. One of the scariest scenes in this book didn't even have any violence at all - it involved a cat and mouse game in an abandoned hotel and it was something right out of Stephen King.



If you're a fan of J.G. Ballard or Joe Hill, I think you'll really enjoy FANTASTICLAND.



4 to 4.5 stars
Profile Image for Blair.
1,726 reviews4,074 followers
February 18, 2017
This book was SO. MUCH. FUN.

It's the story of FantasticLand, a theme park built by its eccentric creator as a rival to the Disney and Universal resorts. When a hurricane hits Florida in late 2017, the area around the park is completely flooded, and FantasticLand ends up being cut off from the mainland for more than a month. After reassurances from its board of directors that the hundreds of employees stranded there have everything they need to survive comfortably, it's bumped down the list of priorities for rescue efforts. But when the National Guard finally reach the park, they are faced with an unbelievably grisly scene: bodies hung from rides, decapitated heads on spikes, blood and bones spattered and strewn everywhere. It emerges that, having banded into tribes, the remaining survivors have been waging an intense, bloody battle with each other. Through interviews with subjects ranging from a 'FantasticLand historian' to the notorious leader of the Pirate tribe, journalist Adam Jakes assembles a loosely chronological account of what went so horribly wrong.

This is, ultimately, horror, but it's the 'violence ordinary people are capable of in desperate circumstances' type of horror, not the ghosts/vampires/demons kind. It's fascinating getting to know the background of this place, and I actually think the exposition was my favourite part. The worldbuilding is just so thorough: if the premise sounds stupidly far-fetched, it doesn't feel like it by the time you've taken in the history of FantasticLand and understand its company culture. The 'battle of the tribes' itself is less enjoyable, or at least it was for me: I'm not fond of long, complicated action scenes, which appear frequently in the final third of the book. I'd also have loved to know more about what the deal was with the Warthogs, although thinking about it, I'm glad a bit of ambiguity was left in. It makes the story scarier.

I've just read the whole description on the Goodreads page, and I think the idea of this being a novel which 'probes the consequences of a social civilisation built online' is overemphasised. The idea that these young people are used to constant stimulation, and the sudden absence of that is what makes them turn so rapidly to violence, is mentioned a few times as a theory, but it's definitely not what the story is about. This paragraph is a bit apropos-of-nothing, but I'm putting it in because I think the blurb makes FantasticLand sound a bit like a tedious anti-social-media parable. It isn't that.

If you liked Sarah Lotz's The Three, I'd recommend this. The different voices and the fact that it's framed as a book about a real-life event make the parallel obvious, and there's a similar sense of dread hanging over the whole thing. It's also equally engaging and readable.

(Incidentally, I'd love to read more books like this. I'm aware of World War Z, which I would consider, but I'm just not really interested in zombies; and I've read Six Stories, which presents its story through transcripts of a fictional podcast. If you know of any other (ideally non-zombie) horror novels that take the 'oral history' approach, tell me!)

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Profile Image for Krystal.
1,294 reviews338 followers
June 11, 2021
OH MY GOD THIS WAS SO MUCH INSANE FUN.

A+ for the audio!

This was another audio I listened to working 'Dark Store' - on my own, in a locked up retail store, in the basement of a deserted shopping centre - also, coincidentally, the day(s) that storms raged outside. COULD THE SETTING HAVE BEEN MORE PERFECT?!

Because this story begins with a storm. A storm that sees just under 400 theme park employees trapped for around 5 weeks. They've got plenty of food and water, and they're supposed to be looking after the park, but things don't quite go to the plan of the exhaustive safety manual designed for this specific kind of scenario.

The book is a series of interviews, and the good stuff starts coming hard and fast once we get to the interviews of those who found themselves as part of one of the 'tribes' that formed during the FantasticLand fiasco. I LOVED the format, and it made the audio that much more entertaining, because you get so many different voices and perspectives of what went down, and you get the classic variations that come from different people telling the same story, and I honestly didn't care that it all seemed a bit far fetched. I felt like, no matter how the situation itself came about, the way these kids dealt with everything seemed pretty real. People taking charge, people cowering, people trying to remain neutral, people just wanting to keep to themselves and stay safe, people trying to pretend it was all a bad dream.

The violence was insane, but as soon as it was told by someone who experienced it first-hand it suddenly seemed more tame, or more reasonable. I LOVED that aspect. Some of it was chilling, but more was just terrifyingly understandable.

This was such a unique, messed up story and I just loved the experience of reading/listening to it. I find myself going back through it to highlight passages that really stood out. I'll likely re-read it at some stage.

A LOT of fun, totally crazy, brilliant characters and variety. Not totally believable, but who cares when you get to have this much fun? Highly recommend.
Profile Image for Adah Udechukwu.
606 reviews78 followers
February 9, 2018
I kinda thought FantasticLand really existed st first. That's how realistic the novel was. The writing was impeccable
Profile Image for Bill.
1,509 reviews104 followers
November 18, 2018
FantasticLand “Where fun is guaranteed”

My friend Bandit turned me onto the audio of this one and it was excellent. As a matter of fact, this was made for audio. Told in a series of interviews, there were plenty of characters to go around and the narration really added depth to the interview style format.

Hurricane Sadie ravaged the Florida coastline isolating the amusement park FantasticLand, which should have been far enough inland to avoid the destruction. Sadie was a real bitch though. 150 mile an hour wind. A million people left homeless. 10 million without power. And 300+ employees of FantasticLand, low on the rescue priority list because they had plenty of food, water and shelter, left to fend for themselves and await help to arrive.

It doesn’t take long for things to go horribly wrong. Without cell phones and social media there was only one thing left for the employees to do. Break out into tribes and start positioning for survival. Duh. I guess if your cell phone is dead and you can’t play Clash of Clans you might as well do it for real. Yep. In hindsight, may not have been the best plan. Damn millennial's.

An original and extremely entertaining tale of society gone feral.

4.5 Stars rounded up to 5 on the strength of the narration and the whack cast of characters.

“Always check how much TNT you are using.”

That’s super sound advice.
Profile Image for Chris Berko.
464 reviews109 followers
November 28, 2016
Incredible read. Shocking and unsettling. I've read other reviews that point out the "creepiness" factor in this and I have to agree. There is plenty of "on-screen" violence and the author pulls no punches with the descriptions of what happens in the park, you get to witness what happens sometimes firsthand, and then you get to hear how different individuals not only interpreted what went down but why they thought this stuff was happening as well. But the most disturbing aspect was the matter-of-factness in which the story is presented. It's no secret this is written like World War Z in interview format, and it is that first-person non-omniscient perspective that makes it so terrifying, you only know what the people themselves know and sometimes the stories are conflicting; so like most real world tragedies, the reader is left to decipher, with not all of the information or facts, what actually happened. This book is about as unputdownable as they come and I'm grateful for the long thanksgiving weekend that allowed me to run through this without having to stop for work or other inconveniences. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Profile Image for Hayley ☾ (TheVillainousReader).
378 reviews1,178 followers
April 7, 2019
DNF 50%

description

^^ This gif pretty much sums up how I feel about this book.

I stopped reading this for my own sanity and the sanity of my boyfriend. I kept scoffing and sighing and let-me-just-read-you-this-ridiculous-part-ing. I really did not like this.

First of all, it was SO B O R I N G. The back of this book compares it to Battle Royale, which is one of my all time faves. THIS WAS A LIE. This is nowhere near as spectacular as Battle Royale.

Secondly, this was so boring. Seriously.

Thirdly, this read like a hate letter written to millennials. "Kids are getting their hands cut off but let me just mention how annoyed Sally is because she can't check Facebook". "Ugh, I wish I had my phone so I could post a picture of that head on my instagram". NO ONE WOULD BE THINKING ABOUT SOCIAL MEDIA IF THEY WERE TRYING NOT TO BE KILLED. "We better get out of here, because these kids are going to lose their minds and start killing each other" an adult actually said something along those lines. It was mentioned MULTIPLE times and this was when they had been in the storm shelter for less than 48 hours.

Fourthly, WHY, when there is enough food, water and shelter to last weeks and weeks, WOULD PEOPLE'S FIRST DECISION TO BE TO FORM TRIBES AND START KILLING EACH OTHER?! Oh, wait, IT WOULDN'T. This was the most ridiculous thing about this book. Yes, obviously it would be terrifying to be caught in a hurricane but they were only in the shelters for three days tops. They had enough food and water for everyone, it was dry, and had power for almost the whole time. Then within an hour of leaving the shelters they group up and start doing heinous shit to each other, like cutting off hands. Once again still have lots and lots of food, water and shelter. THEY ARE PRETTY MUCH CAMPING WHAT THE HELL. It's so unrealistic and makes no sense.

UGH. This was so dumb and I'm ANNOYED.
Profile Image for Derek.
230 reviews44 followers
March 18, 2022
I knew this was going to be a fun gamble when all the passionate reviews I saw we're either 1 star or 4-5 star reviews.

I think it's obvious which side of the coin I landed on. This is a 1-star read with a bump to 2 stars for fantastic narration.

Everything about this is problematic and I'm not even sure where to begin. First, it's told in oral history format which I have yet to enjoy. Meaning the book is just a bunch of interviews - aka all dialog. I likely would've DNF'ed it if I were physically reading it but I actually enjoyed the narrators who breathed colorful life into these awful characters.

Fantasticland (think Disney World) is a popular kid's theme park in Florida that is rendered isolated after a hurricane. The author does his best Lord of the Flies homage here by having the stranded employees form their own "gangs" (i.e. Pirates, Deadpools, Shop Girls, etc.) and then start savagely killing each other, a la Hunger Games.

There was just no reason for it. I could never get behind it, even under the guise of fiction. There still needs to be some sense of purpose or motivating factor. Can you imagine the upbeat, positive, kid-friendly employees of Disney all turning into bloodthirsty murderers if left alone to their own devices? No, you can't. It's illogical.

The science behind a hurricane isolating a theme park for months and the reason behind the unhurried efforts to save them were laughable as well.

This is 100% gore porn. Author Mike Bockoven's twisted fantasy. A dangerously uninformed study of human behavior. When the lights go out in my neighborhood, I pray Mike isn't my neighbor.
November 10, 2019
Audio – 4.5 Stars overall

Luke Daniels - 5++++ Stars. Listening to his performance was like listening to a full cast of performers instead on the one. That’s how super talented he is.

Angela Dawe – 4 Stars

Story - 3.5 Stars

This is the second audiobook I’ve listened to where a fictional story is told through a series of interviews. The people being interviewed share their experience of being trapped at an amusement park during a hurricane.

At the risk of sounding like a pessimist, human nature being what it is, a lot of the behavior was unnecessarily appalling and disturbing. I can’t even say I was surprised.

As interesting as I found the story, I also found it confusing and hard to keep up with who was who. Not because of the narrators, but because how the story was told. It wasn’t straightforward enough for me.
Profile Image for Tammie.
215 reviews55 followers
October 8, 2016
FantasticLand is one creepy book! Told in interview form- it details the horrific events that happened at the amusement park after the area is devastated by a horrific storm. Hundreds of workers stayed behind to help protect the park- they are trained and have more than enough food and water to last until they are rescued. Buuuttttt- after waiting week after week for a possible rescue, no communication with the outside, and very little entertainment- the workers become restless and possessive. Total chaos happens- dead bodies hanging from high above, murder, cannon and bow and arrow injuries, and branding are just a few of the gruesome stuff contained in this book.
Profile Image for Dannii Elle.
1,966 reviews1,378 followers
October 19, 2021
FantasticLand was the name for Florida's infamous theme park until a hurricane arrived and left many individuals, who were working and visiting the park, stranded inside of it. With no help quick to come their way, the isolated individuals organised themselves into groups and attempted to assert some sense of social hierarchy into their new community. Like attracted like and many soon proved they could not be trusted - with food and water sources and with the lives of the stranded others around them.

I loved the interview format this was set out in. I listened to this via audio and it had a full cast, which made it very immersive. The interview sections had a different sound quality, which made them feel authentic, and were also intersected with some author notes, which again made them feel real.

This might not have been the most believable storyline, but I definitely had fun with it. The gore truly made me sick to my stomach and the sinister vibes continued throughout, making it, in all, a great horror read/listen.
Profile Image for donna backshall.
609 reviews170 followers
April 23, 2021
Three weary stars.

It's not the book, it's me. The flooded theme park filled with blood-thirsty and Jonesing-for-wifi Millenials story is unique and unsettling enough to be compelling, but the delivery severely detracted from the entertainment value.

I'm losing my patience with this genre.

Why? This whole Found Footage or Podcast or "Reality" or Mockumentary style of horror writing has been done to death already. It feels like every horror movie filmed and book written after The Blair Witch Project came out 20 years ago uses this gimmick and dude, it's getting REALLY REALLY OLD.

Currently taking recommendations for horror written or filmed this century that isn't written as if it's straight from GoPro footage.
Profile Image for Mallory.
972 reviews51 followers
January 4, 2022
I give this one 3.5 stars rounded down for actual star selection. This book was definitely unique and I do think it will be one that sticks with me (hence the extra half star). I really liked the idea and the format of the book. A disaster strikes and an amusement park full of college kids gets abandoned for weeks and the kids go full Lord of the Flies. The format is a series of interviews with various folks with the interviewers’s questions removed (which was actually a little annoying). Things went from 0 to 60 in less than 2 seconds which felt a little unbelievable. I honestly felt like I was reading a true post-apocalyptic story and the author forget the major cause of permanent end to civilization. Like the author knew it wasn’t really just a hurricane but left the zombies out. This is a hard book to talk about and honestly that “what is going on here??” theme kept me glued to the pages the second half of the book. It was the book version of an accident on the side of the road that you just can’t tear your eyes away from.
Profile Image for Bandit.
4,393 reviews439 followers
November 1, 2018
In trying to come up with a tagline for this, the best that comes out is Lord of the Rides. Which isn’t that great, but it gets the idea across. This is a book about a bunch of kids in a temporarily weather shut down amusement park who go berserk. They have enough food and water to survive, Fantasticland is no ordinary park, it’s well provided and stocked with options, but instead of quietly and patiently riding out the storm, the employees separate into camps, arm themselves and turn the place effectively into a war zone. This is basically (wo)mankind at its most honest, the ugliness that hides underneath social conventions and comes out immediately those are taken away. And, quite possibly, the greatest detractor for libertarianism…because the argument that a society can more or less function well with the most minimal of governing can only be made by either the very naïve or those with no understanding of basic psychology. There’s a character in the book that says she hates people, she likes and even loves individual persons, but once person turns into people…it’s game over. Which I can completely understand and relate to. And which is exactly the driving idea behind this book…to show what perfectly plausible, decent seeming individuals can turn into with the right amount of extraordinary circumstances, peer pressure and potently messed up group dynamics. And it is horrifying to behold. The book is presented as a documentary account (very realistically so) via a compilation of interviews with those involved, from the park’s creator to the participants. That sort of thing can be tricky to get right and when it is done right, it’s a powerhouse and the author here really nails it. Every interview, every personal accounts propels the story forward making for an exciting, exhilarating, terrifying amusement park ride like no other. And as an audiobook it’s pure magic. Only two narrators, male and female, never heard of either, but they did a terrific job. Every interviewer came across distinctly different, through dialects, personality, inflections. And it created such an intense listening experience, so intimate and dynamic, it dragged me outside for walks when all I wanted to do was to stay in just to finish the book. This has easily got to be one of my all time favorite audiobooks and I recommend it highly. Objectively I would have probably read and enjoyed a story set in an amusement park just because it’s a story set in an amusement park, but this exceeded all my expectations and positively wowed. This one lives up to its title all the way. Awesome book.
Profile Image for JasonA.
274 reviews47 followers
August 1, 2021
This one really surprised me with how much I liked it. I actually almost stopped reading when I saw the book was done in an interview format. Prior to this, I'd have said if your name isn't Max Brooks, stay away from fictional interviews. I've seen several books since World War Z came out that have attempted to copy the style but no one has managed to get it right. Either the author forgets that it's supposed to be an interview and just starts writing normally and/or all of the characters feel like the same person. Bockoven manages to pull off the interview style brilliantly. Every interview actually feels like an interview and the characters are all obviously different people.

This starts off a little slow because the first few interviews are concerning what led up to the hurricane and the main events of the novel. Once they actually get to the park workers who were stuck in Fantasticland, it picks up pretty fast.

Like a lot of the reviewers, I had an issue with suspension of disbelief up until about the halfway point. It seems unlikely that a bunch of teenagers would devolve into the Lord of the Flies that quickly. The book even deals with this a bit in the final chapters where they're looking back at the events in the park. Ultimately, I can kind of buy in to the author's premise and believe that it could happen. It's kind of like gun powder; salt-peter, sulfur and charcoal are harmless on their own, but if you grind them down, mix them together and add a spark, you get an explosion.

At the end of the day, I liked this book a lot. I can pretty much guarantee that I'll be re-reading it sometime in the near future.
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