The Kingdom was one of my most anticipated releases of the year so I knew I would enjoy it, but damn, I had no idea how much I would love it! This book was super engaging & addictive, & the ending of the book has left me incredible stressed!
I was sent this book by the publisher & invited to take part in the blog tour in return for an honest review.
⚠️ Suggestions of of rape & on-page self-harm & suicide ⚠️
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.
My god, this BOOK!!! Seriously, I am obsessed; Jess Rothenberg has created a story that has everything in it that I need to fall head over heels for a story. The Kingdom put me on edge with every single sentence & for the whole read (which was over three days) I was completely dedicated to getting this book finished. I loved the world-building of The Kingdom, I loved protagonist Ana & I love how the plot kept me guessing throughout; I did work out part of the ending early, but it seriously didn’t matter, because, just like with Beauty Sleep by Kathryn Evans, the story was just so good that all I wanted to do was keep reading. This book was one I was incredibly excited about, & I am so pleased that it didn’t disappoint at all.
Okay, so I’ll start with Ana & her story… as you would have read in the synopsis, this book is focused on a trial, where Ana is accused of murdering (human) Owen; it isn’t until the very end that we find out what really happened that night but the build up, which is spread across the whole book, is so hard not to get enthralled by. I loved that the scenes weren’t in chronological order as it meant I had to really think about the story, rather than just processing the words & ultimately it just added to the tension. I really liked protag Ana throughout, but I loved her especially in the “present” scenes set in the courtroom & interviews; her confidence in the future was so much more than what it was in the past, & that difference in her character makes you want to find out what changed, what made her grow so much?
The setting of the book was also totally addictive & I was so eager to find out more & more about how this magical theme park worked. It was so easy to picture all of the different parts of The Kingdom in my head (a lot of it looked like Disney Land, lets be honest), & it was really easy to picture what each of the princesses looked like too. This book has a really eerie feel to it throughout, & for me I think that’s because this could so easily become reality in the near-future. Some of the scenes in the book broke my heart, but that was genuinely because of how likely it is that I will live to see this kind of thing happen – I really hope this happens after my time, but technology is so close to being this powerful that I really doubt I’ll miss it.
Something else I want to talk a little about, is how much power the owners of The Kingdom have; I found it genuinely chilling that the princesses had to call their boss “daddy”, & it was made to feel even more perverse because the female boss was called “mother”. I’m not clever enough to explain why the fact that it wasn’t “daddy” & “mummy”, or “father” & “mother”, but the mix of an official-feeling word like “mother” & the childish title of “daddy” (& of course because of the fact that the word daddy can be used as a fetish) just totally creeped me out. Add on top of this, the amount of control & influence these people, & the park’s investors, have in this world & it makes for really terrifying reading; & again that’s because it could so easily become a reality.
This is the longest review I’ve written in ages, but that’s just because I loved it so much; I loved how clever the whole thing was & how easy the story was to fall into; I became addicted to the plot so quickly, & never wanted to put the book down. Jess Rothenberg created the exact type of book that I love &, as I’ve already said, it reminds me a lot of Beauty Sleep as the two books feel like they’ve got a lot of the same themes. This book was just sooo good & I want you all to read it… please?
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