Published by Henry Holt & Co (5.28.2019)
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Format: eBook, 352 pages
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.
This was basically a fantasy version of Westworld! I was actually skeptical about picking this one up when I first got it – I honestly hate the original cover and for some reason I just didn’t think I’d enjoy it. Then my lovely bookish friend Katie (@readerrewind) chose it for me for the 12 recs from 12 friends challenge on Instagram so I picked it up – and I ended up being pleasantly surprised!
I would have finished this entire thing in one day if I hadn’t had to sleep. I devoured it! It’s very quick paced and engrossing. The way the story is told definitely keeps you interested as it’s told from two different timelines: one, in present time, as Ana is on trial for murder; and the second as flashback in the past, before the trial. It’s very interesting to see all the events play out – you know how it ends up but you don’t know the how or why! View Spoiler »Although, I have to say that I never actually believed Owen was dead. As soon as it revealed that Ana was on trial for his murder I knew he would end up still being alive in the end. « Hide Spoiler So, a tad predictable, but cool idea nonetheless!
The whole concept was really fantastic – the Kingdom is a real live fantasy land, in which engineered princesses exist to make every wish come true and extinct animals have a second chance. And it was a great example of mankind playing God. It was actually kind of heartbreaking when the animals glitched and/or died. The baby saber cats *sobs* And totally sick that the creators of the park didn’t bat an eye at the loss of life because they justified that they weren’t really alive at all. Sick, yet not so farfetched. It was believable, and that feasibility made the story even better!
Despite how quickly I gobbled this story up, and how cool the premise was, there was just that something extra missing for me to earn a full five stars. I didn’t quite connect to the characters like I’d hoped, and the romance didn’t do anything for me either. I would have liked to have cared a bit more about Ana and Owen. But overall, I would definitely recommend this to all sci-fi fans!
Writing style: 4/5
Overall rating: 4/5