Monday 27 May 2019

ARC Review | The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg

Title: The Kingdom
Author: Jess Rothenberg
Pages: 464
Publication Date: 11th July 2019 by Pan Macmillan
Genre: Young AdultScience Fiction
Format: ARC via Netgalley
Links: GoodreadsAmazonBook Depository



Welcome to the Kingdom… where ‘Happily Ever After’ isn’t just a promise, but a rule.

Glimmering like a jewel behind its gateway, The Kingdom™ is an immersive fantasy theme park where guests soar on virtual dragons, castles loom like giants, and bioengineered species―formerly extinct―roam free.

Ana is one of seven Fantasists, beautiful “princesses” engineered to make dreams come true. When she meets park employee Owen, Ana begins to experience emotions beyond her programming including, for the first time… love.

But the fairytale becomes a nightmare when Ana is accused of murdering Owen, igniting the trial of the century. Through courtroom testimony, interviews, and Ana’s memories of Owen, emerges a tale of love, lies, and cruelty―and what it truly means to be human.


My Thoughts

Maybe because it's fun to believe in a fantasy. Stories can help people to feel better about their own lives. Even if the story doesn't end well - The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg  

This is going to be one of those books that I'm thinking about for weeks after I've finished it. The entire premise of this book was incredibly intriguing. The story is about Ana, a human-robot hybrid 'princess' created as part of a fantasy experience within a futuristic theme park. We're talking Disney Land but with mermaids, polar bear robots and creepy investors.

The narrative weaves back and forth between Ana's memories of her time in the park and her attempts to solve a mystery (no spoilers!) surrounding her and her 'sisters', with trial transcripts and interviews that shed light onto a murder that Ana has been accused of. I loved the way the story was told, we get small glimpses of the events that had taken place leading up to the trial but it's always vague enough that you can't fit all the pieces together yet. There were so many unpredictable twists, I never expected what was about to happen or where the story was going to go next.

Ana fascinated me. She struggles alot with her loyalty to her sisters and with the programme that created her but there's an inner desire to just simply be human and to experience the emotions and risks that come with it. She was a great character study into what makes us human and just how evolved technology could one day be. It was a little scary thinking about how technology evolves every day and that one day the events in the book could one day be a reality. Ana and Owen were a sweet romance but I was definitely more focused on Ana's character and her conflicts and choices more then anything else.

The setting was one of my favourite parts of the book. The way Jess Rothenberg describes 'The Kingdom' had me wishing I could go back to Disney World (I went six months ago and loved every minute of it) due just to how magical she made it feel. I loved all the little descriptions of the different areas and the names of each section. It had me wishing there was a real theme park with a star deck observatory and a mermaid lagoon.


I raced through this book in order to reach the ending and see how everything would piece together and whilst I wasn't disappointed with the ending, I was expecting it to be a little darker then it was. It could have gone in a very different direction with the choices that Ana made. The actual ending is still fulfilling though and is a great end to a great book.

Read if you like: dark fairytales, robot hybrids, questioning 'what makes us human?'

 * I recieved an ARC copy via Netgalley in return for my honest opinion. Any quotes included in this review are subject to change.


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