The Kingdom – Jess Rothenberg
I can sum up this book in two words: Dystopian Disneyland.
You should be because this is one hell of a ride.
Not quite sure?
Here are three more for you: tragic robot romance.
How about now?
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.
When I picked this on Netgalley, I was intrigued by the description – who wouldn’t be? An extreme virtual reality style theme park? Genetically modified princesses? A murder trial? I’ve never read anything quite like this before and I can guarantee you won’t have either.
The Kingdom is told via court transcripts, Ana’s narration, interview transcripts, news reports, and video footage, all intertwined and slowly unraveling what happened and why. Aside from being a dystopian, Disney style theme park, this book also poses a lot of questions about genetic modification and how real robots can be. It’s fast-paced and utterly engrossing. The romance element was really well done and there was so much I didn’t see coming.
The Kingdom is such a unique read and really well written, it was so refreshing to see this take on sci-fi/dystopia and how the world building was done made it so fantastical it was almost real!
On a side note, I do always try to include trigger warnings when I write reviews, so I will say that there are moments of animal cruelty, sexual assault (both implied and shown), attempted suicide and of course, murder.
All you need to know is that this is a brilliantly written, unique take on robots, if you’re a fan of Westworld, Black Mirror or just dystopia in general, make sure to pick up a copy of this the first chance you get.