Written by Jess Rothenberg
Published by Henry Holt and Co, May 28, 2019
My star rating 3.5 stars
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. Find it on Goodreads
The minute that I heard that this was like a “dark Disney” that actually takes place in an amusement park – I knew I needed it in my life! Sadly this book has me confused and conflicted. There were so many things Ioved, and quite a few that I didn’t. Let me try to form my thoughts here.
First, let’s start with the positives. I LOVED her writing style! There was something so effortless and fluid about it. Never once did I find myself bored and wondering what was going to happen next. The pace was consistent and I was always entertained! Best of all was her world building – it was absolutely outstanding! Like I said above, this takes place in an amusement park sort of like Disney, so there’s a lot to explain and describe. She found a way to give you massive amounts of detail without it ever feeling info-dumpy. I feel like I could draw you a map of the place and even tell you what it’s supposed to look like!
I also really enjoyed the format. This was told in the present day (through interviews and transcription) while they were in the midst of a trial, along with many months in the past that lead to that moment. I think that’s what helped the pace of this book so much. We were given a slight glimpse into why a trial was happening, and I felt like I needed to keep reading to figure out how we got to that point! This gave the whole thing a sense of suspense and high alert.
Now, onto the negatives. First of all, I couldn’t relate to any of the characters really. I understood their feelings and everything but….. they were robots! Their comprehension and intellect was of a robot so it made it hard for me to relate.
Next, the romance was just all wrong for me. It didn’t add up. Once again, I can understand why this was a part of the plan of the plot, but it was just so unrealistic! I wish I could say what I feel this way but – spoilers.
Next, and here’s a warning, there are a LOT of indications of rape here. Never once was there a big red flag, there was never mention of it in the slightest, and there were NO descriptions at all. I guess when you great the “perfect” women for an amusement park with beautiful girls who can’t say no….. sex is going to be a part of the plot….. eye roll.
Lastly, the ending – it could have been better. It was so rushed and I still have so many questions. I don’t understand a few things and I didn’t like a few things that happened.
All those negative things aside, this was still a good book! I read it really quickly, fell in love with her writing style, and I even think I prefer this version of disney…..well sort of….. parts of it anyway! LOL!!
Until next time, happy reading!