Book Review – The Kingdom

Title: The Kingdom

Author: Jess Rothenberg

Publisher: Henry Holt & Company

Publication date: May 28th, 2019

352 pages

4.25/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

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.

Review

In the end, it does not matter what a story is about. It only matters who gets to tell it.

Jess rothenberg, the kingdom

The Kingdom is a futuristic Disney World concept where there are robotic “Princesses” that are programmed to be perfect customer service employees, basically. They are forced every day to provide cheer and perfect experiences for their guests in the park, because the outside world is so bleak and the people deserve to have a perfect time at The Kingdom. Ana is a Fantasist that comes to recognize the faults of her pretty, perfect life and starts to fight back slowly, as much as she is capable of.

Owen is a park employee that Ana meets one day. Ana falls in love with him after several interactions where Owen shows her kindness. As the reader you know there is more to his interaction with her than Ana sees in the moment, which lends a deeper level of intrigue to this already interesting human/robot relationship.

Y’all this book is DARK. I put off reading The Kingdom for awhile because the synopsis made it feel somewhat fluffy for my tastes but I was SO WRONG. Immediately you are presented with Ana in the present and the past. The chapters switch between before she is accused of Owen’s murder, and during her trial for Owen’s murder. This provides you with SOME context, but really it doesn’t give anything away as you read the book. It somewhat like the Illuminae Files in how half the chapters are structured.

Also, when I say this book is dark, I mean it is SUPER FREAKING DARK. There are themes of memory tampering, sexual harassment/assault, violence, animal torture, etc. It seems The Kingdom is meant to be a Black Mirror-esque take on Disney World and how far our society could go to create amusement parks. It also brings up an interesting discussion about what rights robots have in society and what their moral compass is.

If you are looking for a light, fun, easy read; The Kingdom may not be for you. If you want a dark, serious, thought provoking take on society and our pitfalls; definitely pick up The Kingdom. And seriously, if you watch Black Mirror, read this.

Happy reading, bookish friends!

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