Title: The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg
Date Published: 11th July 2019
Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books
Genre: YA Sci-Fi/Mystery
“Disney on steroids… a sure fire discussion starter about desire and power.” Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
Welcome to the Kingdom, a dazzling fantasy theme park where ‘happily ever after’ is not just a promise, but a rule . . .
It’s a fairytale which ends in murder as the one of the ‘Fantasists’ goes renegade… Ana, a half-human, half-android princess, is tasked with entertaining visitors and making wishes come true but now she’s on trial, after finding herself experiencing emotions and romantic feelings against all her programming.
Told through court testimony, interrogation records and fragmented flashbacks, The Kingdom has the futuristic appeal of Westworld and the twists and turns of a true-crime thriller.
On the surface the kingdom and it’s princesses (or fantasist as they’re called) are perfect but it soon becomes clear all is not well. Sinister things start happening around the park culminating in a murder. What is really going on in The Kingdom?
I really enjoyed The Kingdom! Part mystery, part science fiction, the two genres are blended nicely together to make a really entertaining story. I’m always on the lookout for mystery books with a twist or a combination of genres like this.
The story is told in an interesting way with a mix of flashbacks, courtroom scenes and post trial interviews.
I was really intrigued by the main character Ana. She’s never questioned her life as a fantasist, obey the rules, doing what she’s told. She thinks she’s safe within the walls of the kingdom. Then things start to happen, her sister and best friend Nia starts acting strangely and accidents happen around the park. Then she meets Owen and starts having feeling that she shouldn’t. She begins to question everything, is the world outside as bad a place as she’s been told?
This getting compared to Westworld a lot but as someone who’s never seen the movie and only watched one episode of the show, I don’t like westerns even if they do have robots in them, I preferred the Disney like setting.
I did guess the ending about half way through but I just really enjoyed the characters and the story so it didn’t bother me too much.
My only issue was what the Fantasists actually were. Only now I’ve re-read the synopsis, I know that they’re part human, part robot but for a good chunk of the book I thought they were brain washed humans. I just wanted a bit more clarity there within the story.
I think The Kingdom will appeal to anyone who loves a different kind of mystery.
About The Author:
Jess Rothenberg is a writer and freelance editor. A former editor of books for young readers, including the bestselling Vampire Academy series, she was also the author of The Catastrophic History of You & Me, published in more than a dozen countries and The Kingdom, a futuristic thriller. She lives in New York City with her husband and son.