Sunday, February 2, 2020

Review - The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg

Title: The Kingdom

Author: Jess Rothenberg

Pages: 352

Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books

Release Date: 11th July 2019

Blurb from Goodreads:

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(TM) 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.

Goodreads | Amazon UK | Amazon US

My Review:
*I received an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to Pan Macmillan and NetGalley*

The Kingdom is a theme park where nearly anything is possible and where 'Happily Ever After' is a rule.
The star attractions of the Kingdom are the seven Fantasists - beautiful young women engineered to act like princesses and to make everyone's time at the theme park as magical as possible.
Ana is one of the Fantasists and she is content with her life.
Then Ana starts spending time with Owen, a park employee, and she begins to feel things that she isn't programmed to, like love, and to question everything she has been told.
Things go from magical to a nightmare when Ana is accused of murdering Owen.
Did Ana turn on Owen?
Is there a dark side to the Kingdom?

The premise of The Kingdom really intrigued me - an immersive, magic-like theme park where one of the biomechanical princesses potentially goes crazy and murders someone? Yes, please!
I couldn't help but imagine the theme park as a Disneyland but with a major tech upgrade. I can definitely see there being theme parks like that in the future.
I found the idea of the engineered Fantasists and the extinct species brought back to life as hybrids a bit scary and worrying, but also interesting because of the science aspect.
Ana was a good protagonist - she was likeable and I enjoyed reading her interactions with people, especially the other Fantasists.
I liked that each Fantasist represented a different culture and that one of them was Maori (Pania).
The plot was interesting and held my attention. I liked that the mystery element was woven throughout the story, which was told by interviews, courtroom testimonies, and Ana's memories.
I wasn't a big fan of the romance, partly because I feel like it could have been fleshed out a bit more, but I didn't dislike it.
The writing style was engaging and easy to follow. I would definitely read another book by the author.

Overall, this was an enjoyable read that I would recommend.

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