🌟🌟🌟 / 5
The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
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.
Well this is a tricky review to write, usually a book might improve towards the end but unfortunately it felt like the opposite happened with The Kingdom. It’s a novel based in the future about ‘fantasists’, robot princesses at a theme park designed to interact with and welcome guests. The synopsis sounded very intriguing but it just didn’t quite keep me interested to the end.
The story is told through one of the fantasists, Ana’s, narrative as well as through trial transcripts and other medias, this was a very different and fascinating method of story telling. There was also a dual timeline throughout the novel, one featuring the trial where Ana is questioned regarding a crime she has committed and the other beginning two years before the trial.
When told well, I do enjoy multiple time lines, but The Kingdom’s chapters were chopped up into such short fragments that it was hard to gain any depth into the current story and the characters before switching forward or backwards in time again. Ana and her sisters hardly ever interacted and yet some of them were considered to be close to each other, but there was no background to back this up.
The theme park sounded like an amazing and magical land for any Disney fan but unfortunately we learnt almost nothing about it. I would have loved to read about Ana’s experiences of working at the park and her daily life rather than jumping straight into sneaking away to hidden spots and the dark woods. The places we learnt the most about were the empty places where rats had mauled the security cameras!
There’s something sinister going out with the hybrid animals, and possibly with the fantasists as well. Although I loved the evil corporation behind the scenes, we needed more depth to the characters and better world building. This is supposed to be slowly unravelled through the trial transcripts to ensure mystery and intrigue, but the ending was predictable and disappointing. The Kingdom deserved a much stronger ending in my opinion. It’s a shame but this book is only a three star read for me.
I was sent a copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This did not affect my review in an way.
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