Publisher: Pan Macmillian
Publication Date: 11th July 2019
TRIGGER WARNINGS: animal death, self harm, suicide, implied rape
SPOILER FREE REVIEW
The Kingdom is a theme park where extinct creatures have made a come back, happiness is guaranteed and there are seven “real life” princesses called Fantasists. Technically, they are robots but they look like humans and are programmed to be positive and make dreams come true.
We follow one Fantasist; Ana, who meets a park worker called Owen and at the start of the book Ana is on trial for Owen’s murder. We spend the rest of the book following Ana navigating the fact that she starts to experience feelings she is uncertain how to describe and that some of her sister Fantasists start to act strangely and how this all leads to the trial.
I read this as a buddy read with Matilda, she also has a review coming, so be sure to check her blog out here.
The Kingdom was a super fast paced read, it was easy to read and absolutely flew by. One thing that contributed to this was the format of the book. We have a mix of traditional chapters that tell the day to day story before the trial, but then we also have transcripts of interviews and a few newspaper articles sprinkled in. I love when books have a mix of formats and Rothenburg definitely did it well.
Something else Rothenburg did well was descriptions of the world. They were vivid and detailed. However, I would have liked to learn more about the world outside the park as in contrast, it was barely described and only briefly hinted at really.
Ana as a character was fine, she just wasn’t one that I particularly connected with. I didn’t feel like I knew anything about her other than she cared about the hybrid animals and her sisters. She came across as simplistic and her infatuation with Owen felt like insta-love, which I am not a fan of. I’m not sure if this was deliberate and she is meant to be non human and only experiencing some human emotions, or if it was just me. I also wonder if this was done so that you can believe that it is possible for her to be a killer. Either way, not having that connection made it a slightly more taxing read.
The mystery is slightly strange as you are told what has supposedly happened, but in the end, when all is revealed, it didn’t feel like every lose end was tied up. I hope that it was setting up for a sequel as it just felt slightly rushed. If it is the first book in the series, I would hope the only way is up, but as a standalone, I felt it was slightly lacking and I felt it could have been so much more.
Have you read The Kingdom? How did you find it?