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The Kingdom

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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 dr 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.


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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 dr 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.

30 review for The Kingdom

  1. 5 out of 5

    Chaima ✨ شيماء

    What I lack in attractiveness I make up for in my infallible ability to find more interesting books to add to my TBR

  2. 4 out of 5

    emma

    this full review is now posted (!!!) at https://emmareadstoomuch.wordpress.co...! i spontaneously remembered i have a blog, and also that i would like to receive tickets to a real-life version of the Kingdom please and thanks. ----------- EVIL DISNEY. EVIL ROBOT DISNEY. WITH MURDER, AND ALSO TECHNOLOGY. EVIL ROBOT DISNEY OF THE FUTURE. What more do I have to say?! I hope it’s not a lot, because that’s really all I got. This book was nonstop exciting and nonstop original and nonstop awesome and that’s this full review is now posted (!!!) at https://emmareadstoomuch.wordpress.co...! i spontaneously remembered i have a blog, and also that i would like to receive tickets to a real-life version of the Kingdom please and thanks. ----------- EVIL DISNEY. EVIL ROBOT DISNEY. WITH MURDER, AND ALSO TECHNOLOGY. EVIL ROBOT DISNEY OF THE FUTURE. What more do I have to say?! I hope it’s not a lot, because that’s really all I got. This book was nonstop exciting and nonstop original and nonstop awesome and that’s really all I have to say. But for the sake of “writing” “a” “full” “review,” I’ll elaborate. First, synopsis! This is about Ana, one of seven “Fantasists” (think cyborg-y Disney princesses) at The Kingdom (think Disney but huge and future-y). Ana is nice and great and INTERESTING, which is crazy because anytime a YA protagonist is “nice” it’s just a “nice” way of saying “boring and personality-less.” I’m aware I’m overusing the quotation marks, but please let me have my fun. Ana meets Owen, a cutie theme park employee, and starts falling in LOOOOVE. But...robots CAN’T LOVE. ROBOTS CAN’T FEEL. (Ana isn’t quite a robot but the point stands.) It’s the Singularity, baby. Except with amusement parks and fairytales. (So basically the dream.) But then, somehow, impossibly, it gets MORE interesting. Because Ana gets accused of murdering Owen, igniting the Trial Of The Century. This is the book we read. CAN YOU BELIEVE WE’RE BLESSED WITH A PLOTLINE LIKE THIS? This story is legitimately unputdownable. It’s fun from page one and it never stops being fun, and twisty, and exciting. The characters are so interesting and you really!!! care about them!!! Which is unusual for me. Honestly, this wasn’t a perfect book. It dragged in parts and was sometimes a bit melodramatic, and Ana’s internal monologue could get repetitiveeee. The other Fantasists were, by and large, flat and boring. But everything else was so, so fun. READ THIS BOOK. Bottom line: This is straight up some of the most creative and original YA I’ve ever read, especially in recent years. PLEASE READ IT SO WE CAN GET MORE STORIES LIKE THIS. (And also from this author’s crazy mad scientist brain.) ----------- pre-review EASILY SOME OF THE MOST EXCITING AND ORIGINAL YA I'VE READ IN A MINUTE SO EXCITING THAT IT APPARENTLY TURNED ME INTO SOMEONE WHO WRITES EARNESTLY AND IN ALL CAPS A BOOK SO GOOD IT CAUSES AN IDENTITY CRISIS REVIEW TO COME ----------- yes of course i want to read about evil robot future Disney World thanks to Fierce Reads for the ARC

  3. 5 out of 5

    Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin

    I wanted to get this June ShelfLoveCrate box because of the book and the goodies. I really wanted the goodies! Click on the link below the picture to see the goodies! =) THE GOODIES LINK

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kayla Dawn

    I was really enjoying this up until around page 270. As soon as the "showdown" started the story went downhill.. The plot was so rushed all of the sudden, everything felt unrealistic and completely overdone. This book could've easily been 100 pages longer. Same goes for the romance and the character development. The majority of both pretty much happened in the last ~60 pages. It felt like the author just wanted the book to be over tbh 🤷🏻♀ I was really enjoying this up until around page 270. As soon as the "showdown" started the story went downhill.. The plot was so rushed all of the sudden, everything felt unrealistic and completely overdone. This book could've easily been 100 pages longer. Same goes for the romance and the character development. The majority of both pretty much happened in the last ~60 pages. It felt like the author just wanted the book to be over tbh 🤷🏻‍♀️

  5. 5 out of 5

    Stacee

    This book wasn’t even on my radar when I got the invite to read it and man, I’m so happy I accepted. I loved Ana. She’s so good and pure and it was easy to get wrapped up in her way of seeing the world. I was rooting for her from the very beginning. There are a few other characters, but this story is all about Ana and what she’s going through. Plot wise, I was absolutely captivated. I was so happy the story was told in a past and present format. Seeing the trial unfold in transcripts and video c This book wasn’t even on my radar when I got the invite to read it and man, I’m so happy I accepted. I loved Ana. She’s so good and pure and it was easy to get wrapped up in her way of seeing the world. I was rooting for her from the very beginning. There are a few other characters, but this story is all about Ana and what she’s going through. Plot wise, I was absolutely captivated. I was so happy the story was told in a past and present format. Seeing the trial unfold in transcripts and video clips while the present tense of the story was in first person really worked for me. It also added a layer of WTF that was necessary for a story like this. Overall, it was something really unique {to me} and while I would have loved an epilogue, the ending was near perfection. FYI: there’s some creepy leering, forceful grabbing, and a distinct impression of assault. **Huge thanks to Henry Holt for providing the arc free of charge**

  6. 5 out of 5

    Angelica

    This book was not what I expected. I mean, I knew it wasn’t going to be all rainbows and unicorn farts. The synopsis lets you know right away that this book is about the underside of the fairytale, about all the dark things that happen backstage to the fantasy. And yet, I don't know why I still didn't quite see it coming. This book follows Ana, one of seven Fantasists and The Kingdom, a Disney World type of amusement park. The Fantasists are seven engineered girls meant to be the princesses of The This book was not what I expected. I mean, I knew it wasn’t going to be all rainbows and unicorn farts. The synopsis lets you know right away that this book is about the underside of the fairytale, about all the dark things that happen backstage to the fantasy. And yet, I don't know why I still didn't quite see it coming. This book follows Ana, one of seven Fantasists and The Kingdom, a Disney World type of amusement park. The Fantasists are seven engineered girls meant to be the princesses of The Kingdom. They were made to be beautiful, kind, generous, and perfect in every way. They were made to be obedient, docile, subservient, and to never speak their mind. In the eyes of the world, they are perfect girls . In reality, they are prisoners to The Kingdom, constantly harassed and abused, lied to and manipulated, forced to endure the cruel games of the scientists that created them and the park's investors who paid for them. All until something starts going wrong with the girls' programming and they start to develop feelings and desires other than the ones they were created for. Sure, they feel love. It is the premise of the story after all. But they also start feeling loss, fear, and most importantly, hatred for the people that have kept them as prisoners. That's where things get interesting. I think this book makes great commentary on the use of women's bodies. There were wonderful moments of insight that stuck so hard because they are things that real life women have to experience and endure every day.  My issues with this come firstly, with the romance. It felt unreal. Like there is no real reason for this relationship between Ana and Owen. In fact, Owen didn't feel like a full character to me. Why was he doing this? What was his motivation? His background? All the other Fantasists were also pretty boring if I'm honest. Nia was a bit interesting at first but we didn't get much of her story. Also, Eve had potential but her story isn't really elaborated on. We don't get to see the other Fantasists really develop. I also couldn't really connect with Ana. I felt her struggle, her pain, I acknowledged it, I just couldn't seem to care the way I was supposed to. Does that make sense? Also, the end felt a bit rushed? A bit unfinished? I have more questions than answers. In the end, I couldn't love this as I wanted. As I said, this book is as if the plot of Westworld was happening in a Disney park. That said, Westworld does it better. I couldn't help but have Westworld in the back of my head while reading, especially after they mentioned the Romeo & Juliet quote: "Violent delights have violent ends", a recurring motif in Westworld. My rating though mostly comes from the fact that in a few weeks I probably would have forgotten most of its character and in a year I probably would have forgotten most things but the premise. It justs didn't stick with me. I'm not sure this review even makes sense. But that's how I felt so there you have it. TW: emotional abuse, sexual abuse (implied, never shown), suicide ARC was provided by the publishers in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jasmine from How Useful It Is

    I started reading The Kingdom on 5/22/2019 and finished it on 5/25/2019 at 2:55AM. This book is a fantastic read! I like following Ana’s view. She has a clever attitude. I like how she handles the interviews. She’s a bit of a smart mouth and challenges her interviewers instead of just answering the questions directly. The story is interesting, reminds me of Magic Kingdom except it sounds more exciting with all the technologies. When technology going rogue, in this case, the Fantasist Nia, Eve, a I started reading The Kingdom on 5/22/2019 and finished it on 5/25/2019 at 2:55AM. This book is a fantastic read! I like following Ana’s view. She has a clever attitude. I like how she handles the interviews. She’s a bit of a smart mouth and challenges her interviewers instead of just answering the questions directly. The story is interesting, reminds me of Magic Kingdom except it sounds more exciting with all the technologies. When technology going rogue, in this case, the Fantasist Nia, Eve, and Ana acting and thinking beyond their programming capabilities, just makes me wonder how real robots can be sometimes. This book is told in the first person point of view following Ana, one of the seven (Ana, Kaia, Yumi, Eve, Zara, Pania, and Zel) fantasy princesses called Fantasists, the world’s most beautiful ladies. Ana works at The Kingdom, an Extreme Virtual Reality theme park. She along with her six sisters are created and programmed as hybrid humans to entertain and make guests happy. Ana doesn’t sleep and shouldn’t feel hurt. This book begins with what goes on after a murder, an interview into the murder trial and two years before the murder took place. Each chapter will bring readers closer to the murder scene while getting to know everyone involved and all that goes on in The Kingdom. The Kingdom is well written. I love this unique young adult fantasy. I haven’t read another book quite like it and it’s such refreshing to read something new. I like how the princesses are smart in a way of computers, scanning for information and memory but there’s a firewall to prevent them from knowing more information than they need to. I like Owen Chen and his unique situation and especially how he cares. I like the cute romance. Love that unexpected ending. The organization into this story with the courtroom trial, interviews, emails, timelines, etc is a bit confusing for me at first. That’s the reason why I don’t bother to read Illuminae series yet because when I started reading a bit of that book the interviews and whatever else confused me. But anyway, I’m glad to continue reading The Kingdom because I enjoyed Ana and Owen. I highly recommend everyone to read this book! Pro: fast paced, page turner, theme park, romance, diversity Con: none I rate it 5 stars! ***Disclaimer: I won this book through a Twitter Giveaway from Fierce Reads. Please be assured that my opinions are honest. xoxo, Jasmine at www.howusefulitis.wordpress.com for more details

  8. 4 out of 5

    Umairah | Sereadipity

    This book wasn't just a bit dark and disquieting- it took me to a whole new level of sinister that I had never experienced before. Plot: 4/5 Characters: 4/5 Writing: 4/5 Trigger Warnings: suicide, sexual assault (off page, implied), animal abuse The Kingdom was a futuristic theme park that used cutting-edge technology to create an enchanting experience for all of its visitors. With thrilling performances from previously extinct creatures, magical rides, flamboyant parades and vivid fantasy simulation This book wasn't just a bit dark and disquieting- it took me to a whole new level of sinister that I had never experienced before. Plot: 4/5 Characters: 4/5 Writing: 4/5 Trigger Warnings: suicide, sexual assault (off page, implied), animal abuse The Kingdom was a futuristic theme park that used cutting-edge technology to create an enchanting experience for all of its visitors. With thrilling performances from previously extinct creatures, magical rides, flamboyant parades and vivid fantasy simulations it promised to inspire wonder and make everyone's wildest dreams come true by giving them the 'happily ever after' they deserved. One of its most prominent creations was the Fantasists- seven android princesses engineered to delight, amuse and represent equality and tolerance in the world. The novel was a series of flashbacks, interrogation records, court testimony, emails and more which pieced together the story of Ana, a Fantasist who was accused of murdering one of the theme park's maintenance workers. This format allows us to see the events unfold from her perspective and simultaneously see how the same events have been twisted to appear in court. It's funny how there never is any question as to whether or not she actually killed the person even though she claims to be not guilty. The case is built on whether or not Ana had the conscience to make the decision to murder someone or whether it was a programming malfunction. It was fascinating to see things from her perspective and understand her methodical manner of learning about the world. As Ana gradually unearths the hidden terrors of The Kingdom, the reader does too and it makes for a very suspenseful journey. I found it sad that a society of the future would feel the need to have Fantasists. Beautiful, subservient princesses, admired by girls all over the world, engineered and programmed to entertain and please, to always say 'yes' and never say 'no'. And the irony was that they were represented as strong and brave- princesses who didn't need saving- when in reality their lives were not their own. Their vulnerability and naivety was exploited, they were treated deplorably, they were emotionally abused and manipulated, they were harassed and assaulted and intimidated. They were objectified and paraded and displayed for the enjoyment of others and despite all of that, they were always told to be grateful for what they had. Is that really the kind of role model young girls should have? I also found it interesting that there were no male Fantasists. It reminded me of two articles I have read recently. The first was about the increasing popularity of artificial intelligence being modelled on female personas (for example things like Siri or Alexa having default female voices). The second being about the increase in parents banning their children to watch Disney princess movies because they don't want them to think it is alright for a woman to always be saved by a man. Although The Kingdom is a work of fiction, it has some very real themes in it. The Kingdom was the epitome of hypocrisy. At first glance, it seemed like a wonderful theme park- but beneath it's pretty façade there was relentless anguish and pain. For example, at the time of the novel, nearly all of the animals we have today had gone extinct. Therefore, The Kingdom started a program to revive extinct creatures through bioengineering. They claimed they were doing good to the planet and helping preserve our world. But why would you reintroduce an animal only to put it in chains? To make it live a life in a cage being ogled at by visitors. The animals at The Kingdom were abused and starved and most of the bioengineered animals died in days, weeks or months due to genetic defects they were created with. Is that really helping the world? It repulsed me how they thought it was alright to make the cost of entertainment for some, the suffering of others. The reason I knocked off a star was because at times the story did become a bit too confusing as it kept switching between different formats which made it hard to keep up with the plot. Overall, I found The Kingdom very creepy but I would recommend it to someone looking for an original, thought provoking read. After reading it, some may wish for the chance to visit The Kingdom but I wouldn't go there even if someone paid me. Why? Because my entertainment is not worth someone or something else's pain. Thank you to Macmillan and Jess Rothenberg for providing me with a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinion expressed are my own. More book reviews and other brilliantly bookish things can be found at Sereadipity!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Holly (Holly Hearts Books)

    Oof. With such an amazing sounding synopsis, I found this one to be lacking in both the action and thrills department. That’s a pretty hefty negative when a book takes place in a futuristic theme park with robot princess’s. The book never allowed me to be fully immersed. It’s really choppy. On occasion when a scene was finally laid out and I could enjoy what was happening, the chapter would end and switch to a new timeline. There’s no depth. I loved that the author tried to be innovative and orig Oof. With such an amazing sounding synopsis, I found this one to be lacking in both the action and thrills department. That’s a pretty hefty negative when a book takes place in a futuristic theme park with robot princess’s. The book never allowed me to be fully immersed. It’s really choppy. On occasion when a scene was finally laid out and I could enjoy what was happening, the chapter would end and switch to a new timeline. There’s no depth. I loved that the author tried to be innovative and original with a murder mystery plot but the book is a singular great concept that never materializes into anything. Plus the writing needed a good polish. The magical theme park atmosphere never really came through. I felt like a thin cloth blanket was draped over the setting and I was desperately trying to see through it. I wanted to spend time time in all of these places the characters were mentioning and you don’t get to. I also have a really hard time calling this scifi. I know it takes place in the future with robots but it just doesn’t feel or read like a scifi. In fact it’s clearly dystopian. The outside world is described as destroyed, flooded, many animals are extinct. This book isn’t bad. Let me make that clear, it’s just not the experience I thought it would be. This is a futuristic dystopian murder mystery

  10. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte May

    Library copy available for pick up Can’t wait for this!!!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ova - Excuse My Reading

    This book was so good!!! I loved the twists. Set in a highly imaginative and creative world, Kingdom, which has the vibes of a Disney/Westworld combination, where there are android princesses in this theme park called Kingdom, that interact with visitors and make their experience more special. The story is about Ana, who starts to develop her own emotions. At the beginning I struggled a bit to keep up with what's going on and who is who, but once I got what's going on I was hooked. the ending wa This book was so good!!! I loved the twists. Set in a highly imaginative and creative world, Kingdom, which has the vibes of a Disney/Westworld combination, where there are android princesses in this theme park called Kingdom, that interact with visitors and make their experience more special. The story is about Ana, who starts to develop her own emotions. At the beginning I struggled a bit to keep up with what's going on and who is who, but once I got what's going on I was hooked. the ending was a killer!! highly recommended for YA Sci/Fi fans.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This was exactly what I needed at the moment - a slice of dystopian YA with subtle interesting ideas and a murder mystery that starts at the end. Ana is a Fantasist, a genetically enhanced part human/part machine that’s been designed to fulfil your every heart’s desire within The Kingdom - a theme park that allows people to view the past and design their own future. Highlights include extinct species brought back to life as ‘hybrid I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This was exactly what I needed at the moment - a slice of dystopian YA with subtle interesting ideas and a murder mystery that starts at the end. Ana is a Fantasist, a genetically enhanced part human/part machine that’s been designed to fulfil your every heart’s desire within The Kingdom - a theme park that allows people to view the past and design their own future. Highlights include extinct species brought back to life as ‘hybrids’ that don’t feel pain, and are not considered ‘real’, spanning several different geographical ‘lands’ from the frozen tundra to a spellbinding storybook world. The story centres around the murder of Owen, and the subsequent trial of Fantasist Ana, who’s apparently obsessed with the maintenance man she’s suppose to have killed. Except Fantasist’s aren’t programmed to kill, or lie. So what really did happen that night? The story unfolds via court transcripts, videos and interviews between Ana and the court, as well as her own memories of the 18 months leading up to the trial. It’s an interesting and unusual way to tell the story, and is sometimes hit and miss in it’s delivery. At times it feels choppy and uneven - especially the beginning, and stops the organic flow of the story. Just as things pick up with the backstory, it cuts to a different time and place, which left me feeling frustrated. A more linear approach would have worked better, in my opinion, with a few strategic movements around the timescale, rather than the constant jumping around. Ana starts out as a interesting character. As a Fantasist she aims to please, never questioning or doubting her surroundings. She’s painfully naive and trusting, even when faced with morally wrong situations - such as the meeting with the Investors. It was interesting to watch this naivety change over time, although I did find her relationship with Owen forced and instalove like at times. It didn’t really grow over time as I would have liked, and ends with Ana mainly fawning over him instead of asserting her independence. More interesting was Ana’s relationship with her sisters, especially the troubled Nia - who’s desperate actions lead Ana down the path of self discovery. I did like this idea that runs throughout the story surrounding morality and the hypocrisy in engineering. As the story plays out, we see this pull of technology, the ‘fun’ of genetically designing animals for the pleasure of people but without really caring about the consequences. To challenge this, as Ana does, brings to light the idea of who decides what is right and wrong in genetic engineering? The people within The Kingdom don’t see these animals or the Fantasists as real, or worthy of any kind of proper life or consideration. Their sole purpose is to entertain, and when they fall out of fashion or ‘malfunction’ they are easily disposed of or kept chained up away from the crowds. At times an interesting read, with some subtle darker undertones, but a stereotypical protagonist and strange nonlinear storytelling lets it down.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Tara ☽

    Hello I'm totally down for some tragic robot romance

  14. 5 out of 5

    Amelia

    This reminded me a bit of The Girls With Sharp Sticks because of the whole "we raise perfect girls whose only purpose is to make you happy" thing, but that one was much better. I see what the author tried to do and I really enjoyed the "evil Disneyland" concept, but it all felt underwhelming, unfinished and a bit shallow? When I say shallow, I mean that the topics weren't discussed deeply, they were just mentioned and basically everything in this book is just "assumed and told" instead of "shown This reminded me a bit of The Girls With Sharp Sticks because of the whole "we raise perfect girls whose only purpose is to make you happy" thing, but that one was much better. I see what the author tried to do and I really enjoyed the "evil Disneyland" concept, but it all felt underwhelming, unfinished and a bit shallow? When I say shallow, I mean that the topics weren't discussed deeply, they were just mentioned and basically everything in this book is just "assumed and told" instead of "shown and explained". When it comes to the characters, they were all not developed enough. I couldn't connect with any of them and while reading I had no emotions whatsoever. I did want to find out what actually happened, but I didn't care what effect it'd have on the characters. The whole thing is just..mediocre. The beginning was fun: getting to know the world and coming up with different theories as to what happened. The middle was fine I guess. Nothing much happens, the girls go about their usual business, Ana stalks a guy a bit and that's it. Then the last few chapters come along and some truths are revealed. It gets interesting again but then it all falls flat because the ending is pretty lame and predictable. I didn't guess everything, but most of it was obvious. I hoped we'd get an epilogue or at least something epic to conclude everything, but no. There were no final battles, no mind blowing plot twists, just...that. Basically, it felt incomplete. I hoped there'd be more scenes with the girls bonding considering they were all "sisters" or that there would be at least more talk about the other Fantasists. All we get is Ana and her boyfriend drama. Maybe that'd be fun if Owen was a proper person but unfortunately he was as one dimensional as the rest of them. I couldn't care less about their relationship, or the lack of one. I will say that their interactions are limited and the first 60% of the book they barely know each other but those scenes towards the end when they suddenly express their feelings so openly, that was just...ugh why To sum up, this had a great premise and huge potential, it's also not boring but not the best read either because everything is superficial and you just can't make yourself care too much about either the plot or the characters. I'm probably gonna forget everything that happened in this book in a month, oh well...

  15. 4 out of 5

    Nenia ⭐ Literary Garbage Can ⭐ Campbell

    OMG I NEED DIS

  16. 5 out of 5

    Lata

    This is "feminism lite", but based on everything I see around me, there is still a deep need for a book like this that asks us to think about what we expect from the perfect woman: servility, beauty, and constant, unquestioned compliance. This book shares some of the same ideas as Girls with Sharp Sticks, though it comes at the same questions from a slightly different direction. Instead of an elite school for beautiful young women to be groomed to be the perfect wives of successful men, here we h This is "feminism lite", but based on everything I see around me, there is still a deep need for a book like this that asks us to think about what we expect from the perfect woman: servility, beauty, and constant, unquestioned compliance. This book shares some of the same ideas as Girls with Sharp Sticks, though it comes at the same questions from a slightly different direction. Instead of an elite school for beautiful young women to be groomed to be the perfect wives of successful men, here we have perfect princesses, "fantasists", that have been constructed and programmed to be beautiful and of service, and who work in a large theme park called the Kingdom. The girls are closely monitored all day and basically imprisoned after hours in their quarters. Even with these controls on them, there are staff and "investors" in the fantasists program who are clearly raping the young women. Though I wasn't overly surprised by much of what happened in this book, I did enjoy how the fantasist Ana gradually awakens to the horror of hers and her sisters' situations, and begins to fight back.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Bethany

    This one is one of the smartest, most compelling books I have read this year and it will definitely be making my favorites list! I suspect this one is going to be a big hit and I'm really glad I was encouraged to pick it up. The Kingdom is a brilliant sci-fi thriller that completely sucked me in. It is both beautiful and disturbing, weaving together hard-hitting social commentary with a page-turning mystery. Set at a futuristic theme park (think Disneyland on steroids with sci-fi technology) The This one is one of the smartest, most compelling books I have read this year and it will definitely be making my favorites list! I suspect this one is going to be a big hit and I'm really glad I was encouraged to pick it up. The Kingdom is a brilliant sci-fi thriller that completely sucked me in. It is both beautiful and disturbing, weaving together hard-hitting social commentary with a page-turning mystery. Set at a futuristic theme park (think Disneyland on steroids with sci-fi technology) The Kingdom follows Ana, one of 7 biological AI hybrid princesses who only exist to make happily ever afters come true. It is told in a dual narrative, past and present. In the present timeline, there has been a murder and Ana is on trial as a suspect. Thematically this book is so rich, I'm going to give you some bullet points. 1- The Meaning of Humanity: Unsurprisingly for a book that involves some degree of Artificial Intelligence, there is a deep consideration of what it means to be human, to feel, to have self-determination and where the line between machine and sentient being is. Most of the story is told through Ana's perspective and we see the disconnect between her internal growth, feelings, and relationships, and the way she is clearly viewed by others as, at best, a child to be manipulated and controlled or, at worst, a program with no value or sense of self. We also see different sides of this issue in documents related to the trial. (i.e. can Ana be convicted of murder if there was simply a glitch in her programming?) 2- The Commodification of Beauty and Diversity: The princesses are diverse in terms of skin tone and facial features, supposedly representing global unity, but lacking any attached cultural heritage or history. It is lip-service diversity for the purpose of corporate revenue by the theme park. (Case in point, the "authentic Nigerian" jewelry worn by one of the princesses and available for purchase in the gift shop is made in Taiwan) Likewise, they are all forced to maintain impossible standards of physical perfection and are treated by men as interchangable because they are clearly meant to be consumed. Which leads me to.... 3- Rape Culture & the Objectification of Women: In terms of content, do be aware that there is on-page sexual harassment and off-page sexual assault that takes place. The princesses are treated as "not real" and as objects to be leered at and consumed rather than as people. Which very understandably results in... 4- The Legitimacy and Necessity of Female Anger: We see this anger manifest in multiple characters in different ways as a response to the mistreatment, abuse, and tight control of the princesses. Thematically, I think this is very timely. With the #metoo movement we are in a cultural zeigeist surrounding female rage and I think she really taps into that in ways that teen girls should have access to. The author also parallels this in very interesting ways with mistreatment of animals... 5- Animals and the Environment: This book is set in a future where global warming has done a number on the environment and many species of animals are extinct. The Kingdom offers an escape from that reality, partly by giving to live to extinct hybrid animals that are part biological clones, part technological construct. But this gives way to some big questions about treatment of animals (again paralleling the treatment of the princesses). For instance, some of the animals are engineered not to experience physical pain, so is it animal cruelty to raise zebras and have lions attack them in order to entertain guests? (Major content warnings for animal cruelty by the way, in this and several other scenes). On the flip side, there is a really interesting plot thread about evolution that feels very hopeful in the face of such a bleak future for the environment. There is probably more, but I will stop there. I'm blown away at how the author was able to weave such weighty thematic content into this page-turner of a book that just leaves you wanting more. I would LOVE to see more in this world, especially from the perspectives of some of the other princesses. I received an advance review copy of this book via NetGalley. All opinions are my own. Content/Trigger warnings for the following: animal abuse and cruelty, on-page sexual harassment, off-page sexual assault, self-harm and attempted suicide, manipulation and control

  18. 5 out of 5

    Amira

    This book really had great potentials, but I was so bored reading it. My high hopes progressively declined after a while because: - the theme park and its rules weren't really fully laid out, they were just thrown here and there to justify an action which brings me to my next point - I didn't get a sense of danger or anticipation, things just happened and I couldn't care less. - Being in Ana's head and experiencing all the story through her was also annoying because her dialogue and thoughts were s This book really had great potentials, but I was so bored reading it. My high hopes progressively declined after a while because: - the theme park and its rules weren't really fully laid out, they were just thrown here and there to justify an action which brings me to my next point - I didn't get a sense of danger or anticipation, things just happened and I couldn't care less. - Being in Ana's head and experiencing all the story through her was also annoying because her dialogue and thoughts were so stiff which fits with her being a hybrid, but then when she out of the blue states that she feels something else and is supposedly 'Evolving' into something more, she is still stiff and annoying.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Katie.dorny

    This was definitely an entertaining read with an original synopsis but unfortunately just didn’t connect at pivotal times. Here we are immersed in the kingdom, a highly realistic digital word that has fused with technology to create a dream land. We also meet the star attractions: 7 princesses designed to emulate the best of culture and beauty. This move unravels the fairytale image of childhood and explores the callous nature hidden from view. It was an extremely interesting take on a classic tro This was definitely an entertaining read with an original synopsis but unfortunately just didn’t connect at pivotal times. Here we are immersed in the kingdom, a highly realistic digital word that has fused with technology to create a dream land. We also meet the star attractions: 7 princesses designed to emulate the best of culture and beauty. This move unravels the fairytale image of childhood and explores the callous nature hidden from view. It was an extremely interesting take on a classic trope and I really enjoyed the novel. All the above being said, it just didn’t move me enough to rate it higher. I enjoyed the characters, the world building..but sometimes the story just lagged a little too far behind for me and though some of the scenes described were for an older young adult audience, some of the narrative saw it trying to also engage a younger demographic.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Evie Braithwaite

    Picture this: a futuristic Disney World swarmed with robotic hybrid animals and instead of Disney Princesses, there are flawless, androids named Fantasists whose sole goal is to make the park guests' fantasies come alive. Ive read numerous books lately based around the post-human arguments surrounding genetic modification or the creation of flawless androids. As a result, I feel as if that altered my reading experience slightly. The theme park was so intriguing. The book was such a quick read so Picture this: a futuristic Disney World swarmed with robotic hybrid animals and instead of Disney Princesses, there are flawless, androids named ´Fantasists´ whose sole goal is to make the park guests' fantasies come alive. I´ve read numerous books lately based around the post-human arguments surrounding genetic modification or the creation of flawless androids. As a result, I feel as if that altered my reading experience slightly. The theme park was so intriguing. The book was such a quick read so I would have loved more details about this futuristic Disney-like world. I also underestimated how dark this tale would be. The men overseeing the female androids possess perverse desires. They objectify the androids and, considering they were created to simply look pretty and serve, they expect them to obey even the most twisted commands. They don´t have feelings, they don´t have desires. Or do they? Our protagonist, Ana, is one of the seven beautiful android Fantasist sisters. She´s a machine, devoid of human emotion. That is until her relationship with a park ranger, Owen, starts to blossom. Unfortunately, from here, the whole romance plot and the what-it-means-to-be-human storyline didn't interest me much. Dreams, tears, and a fluttering heartbeat whenever she feels his gaze; these emotions and experiences are new to her. As her emotions intensify, she begins to figure out the meaning of love, life and humanity and starts to question The Kingdom´s ethics. While the story jumps back and forth between two years prior to Ana´s murder trial and to the post-trial interview, it all draws to a somewhat predictable ending. This book may have not been my favourite, but it was a lot of fun nonetheless. It proposes some poignant questions about not only the lengths to which those in power will go to provide entertainment to the masses but also the frightening possibilities of our future technology. Thank you, Pan Macmillan and NetGalley for providing me with an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    4.5 stars I received an ARC copy of this book from a Goodreads giveaway. Thank you Fierce Reads for sending me a copy. This book was so unique. Ive not read anything else like it. As a lot of other reviewers have said it's a cross between Westworld and what you might imagine Disney World being like in the future. The only reason I gave it 4.5 and not 5 stars is because I felt like I wanted more out of the ending. That being said I did thoroughly enjoy reading this and I look forward to more books 4.5 stars I received an ARC copy of this book from a Goodreads giveaway. Thank you Fierce Reads for sending me a copy. This book was so unique. Ive not read anything else like it. As a lot of other reviewers have said it's a cross between Westworld and what you might imagine Disney World being like in the future. The only reason I gave it 4.5 and not 5 stars is because I felt like I wanted more out of the ending. That being said I did thoroughly enjoy reading this and I look forward to more books by Jess Rothenberg in the future.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kate (GirlReading)

    4.5* This was essentially a murder mystery set at Disneyland, in which a Disney Princess is the prime murder suspect. So yeah, of course I freaking loved it. TW: possible self harm trigger, mention of abuse

  23. 4 out of 5

    Anja H.

    This sounds like Westworld = GIMME GIMME GIMME!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Renata

    This was such a nice read for me and also it took me a few hours to finish it? I don't usually read during exams weeks but I was so excited for this one that I couldn't wait more but I was not expecting to finish it so fast? This book for me at least, was unique and so different and had a plot-twist that I was not expecting? Perhaps I got so into the story that I wasn't thinking anymore, I just wanted to read, read and read. In this book we have the point of view of Ana, one of the seven fantasy This was such a nice read for me and also it took me a few hours to finish it? I don't usually read during exams weeks but I was so excited for this one that I couldn't wait more but I was not expecting to finish it so fast? This book for me at least, was unique and so different and had a plot-twist that I was not expecting? Perhaps I got so into the story that I wasn't thinking anymore, I just wanted to read, read and read. In this book we have the point of view of Ana, one of the seven fantasy princess (sisters) from The Kingdom and we follow her story. It starts with the explanation of a murder, following with some interviewers into the murder trial and we see a countdown of two years before the murder took place. With that, in each chapter we get to see what happens with the change from before-after the murder and gives clues and more information and more points of view. I loved Ana, she's so soft and pure but definitely really smart and I absolutely loved her character development. I also loved Owen, I was curious about him at first and I guessed something before was revealed but it was a really nice ride! Also, I'd like to mention how Jess Rithenberg included almost everything in one book? We're placed in a future where climate change has done too much harm and many animals are extinct and The Kingdom gives a different reality where you can find hybrid animals; how Ana is not supposed to feel anything more than what her system made her able to do and function and, in my opinion, was really well developed how there were some breakdowns between what she is supposed to do/act and what she's actually feeling. We also have the "ideal perfect princess",the author shows how all the princess are getting ready every day to be perfect and look really good for people and this idea of the objectification of women is clear and I wasn't expecting it, in this book all the princess aren't supposed to feel anything, they're just objects, propiety of The Kingdom and the "leaders" use them however they want just to erease their memories afterwards. And obviously, we see how the sisters find things out and their anger, and I think that was powerful and what it made a really plot in the story. I loved the book, but I think the end should have been a little bit longer? To explain more things and how it'll end because that's a hude open end there. “In the end, it does not matter what a story is about. It only matters who gets to tell it.” “Like Wendy, John, and Michael Darling on the night Peter Pan taught them how to fly - I think one happy thought. In my pocket, I have a knife.”

  25. 4 out of 5

    Micah Francis

    I just finished this book and now I don’t know what to do with my life. I am completely obsessed. Disney World meets Westworld and IT WORKED! Loved this book and praying for a sequel!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ishmeen

    My friend just pointed out that this sounds kind of like Westworld and I’m PUMPED

  27. 5 out of 5

    Tracy (Cornerfolds)

    Read more of my reviews at Cornerfolds.com! Actual rating: 4.5 stars I'm not sure what I was expecting from The Kingdom when I first picked it up, but this book turned out to be a hell of a ride! I am a huge Disney World fanatic - I basically moved to Florida to be able to go more often. I also love dystopian fiction and books written in transcripts so this one was definitely for me! Ana is a Fantasist, a princess in a park that is remarkably similar to what I'd expect a future Disney World to be. Read more of my reviews at Cornerfolds.com! Actual rating: 4.5 stars I'm not sure what I was expecting from The Kingdom when I first picked it up, but this book turned out to be a hell of a ride! I am a huge Disney World fanatic - I basically moved to Florida to be able to go more often. I also love dystopian fiction and books written in transcripts so this one was definitely for me! Ana is a Fantasist, a princess in a park that is remarkably similar to what I'd expect a future Disney World to be. She has lived her life in the park being told of the horrors outside the gates. Ana and her sisters have been told about the terrible world people live in and believe they exist as a reprieve from reality. When Ana meets Owen and begins noticing strange things happening in the park and with her sisters, she begins to question the only reality she has ever known and I love her for it! While she is understandably naive, Ana is also a remarkable character. It was exciting to follow Ana's journey as she began to evolve and wake up to the world around her. I loved the relationships with her sisters, especially with Nia. It was unsettling to see these women attempting to communicate with each other under the watchful eye of their makers. Speaking of which, "Daddy." Big cringe. On the other hand, Ana and Owen together were such a sweet couple. I loved how much they trusted and helped each other and I also appreciated that their romance didn't overshadow the bigger story at all. My absolute favorite thing about The Kingdom was the world created by Jess Rothenberg! I could absolutely see this park existing in the future and the different lands were all incredible. I would love to see this as a movie! Has it been optioned yet? Can we make that happen? I already felt like I could see the park. This story was so much darker than I expected when I first saw the cover floating around. I'll admit, I wasn't in any hurry to read it until a friend kept insisting I'd love it. The rainbows and butterflies are definitely surface level and the real mystery hiding underneath is truly terrifying. The Kingdom is told in flashbacks interspersed with transcripts from the trial and interviews. It made the story seem much more urgent and fast paced. I loved how unexpected the ending of this book was and I'm seriously hoping for a book two! It definitely seems very open and like there's much more story to be told. If you're looking for a dark dystopia that's more than what it seems, you should definitely give this a try! Especially if you're a Disney fan.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay

    The Kingdom is an enormous fantastical theme park where bio-engineering restores extinct animals and brings all sorts of creatures to life for the entertainment of guests. That includes the seven "fantasists", bio-engineered "perfect" human-looking women who are marketed as the faces of the Kingdom. We follow the story from one of the fantasist points-of-view, Ana, as she meets an intriguing park employee that she develops a friendship with, and a jump forward in time when she's on trial for his The Kingdom is an enormous fantastical theme park where bio-engineering restores extinct animals and brings all sorts of creatures to life for the entertainment of guests. That includes the seven "fantasists", bio-engineered "perfect" human-looking women who are marketed as the faces of the Kingdom. We follow the story from one of the fantasist points-of-view, Ana, as she meets an intriguing park employee that she develops a friendship with, and a jump forward in time when she's on trial for his murder. I'm strongly reminded of the recent Girls with Sharp Sticks which has a superficially similar premise. In both books we have a cohort of young women who have to project the elements of a "perfect" young woman according to all the worst elements of patriarchal society. In this book that translates into idolizing beauty and traditionally female traits. There's a chilling "rate your fantasist" checklist in one of the chapters that includes features like "face", "gown" and "smile" as well as "kindness", "sweetness" and "obedience" (and almost nothing else; the list is conspicuous for what's not on it). This is while the same fantasists are strapped down in the evenings, imprisoned in the park itself and brainwashed continuously. And also like Girls with Sharp Sticks, there's sexual assault only slightly off-camera. It's not hard to see where this is all coming from. Both books are about control, and in particular control over women and their bodies. You'd have to be willfully ignorant of current politics in 2019 not to see the relevance of this sort of conversation and why it's worth talking about. But there's also a strong theme of awakening and striking back against this sort of repression, particularly for and with sisters. Overall I thought this was quite good, with a clever structure (although with a fairly obvious twist) and an interesting premise. While the scenario seems monstrous, it's worth remembering just how monstrous people can be when they don't think of their charges as human. Also, just look at that cover!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Maggie

    2.75 stars It was ok... just ok. I was kind of disappointed, I was expecting more from this story.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Mara

    This is the kind of YA speculative fiction I like to see - a few metaphors thoughtfully channeled through a unique premise (why did this Disney-like princess that's actually a human android hybrid go off her rocket and kill her only friend?), with compelling characters and lovely prose to boot. I found this quite moving, and I was impressed with the genuinely difficult questions the book explored around what it means to be human and how technology interacts with our humanity. That said, it has t This is the kind of YA speculative fiction I like to see - a few metaphors thoughtfully channeled through a unique premise (why did this Disney-like princess that's actually a human android hybrid go off her rocket and kill her only friend?), with compelling characters and lovely prose to boot. I found this quite moving, and I was impressed with the genuinely difficult questions the book explored around what it means to be human and how technology interacts with our humanity. That said, it has the classic flaw (for my own tastes, mind you) that a dual timeline book has: I was more interested in one timeline than the other. I think this is a more justified use of that contrivance than is often the case in YA mystery plots, but still. I wish this book had found a way to be told in a continual narrative without hopping back and forth with the past. All in all, heartily recommend and I will look forward to more from this author in the future.

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