REVIEW | The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg

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Title: THE KINGDOM

Author: JESS ROTHENBERG

Released: 11TH JULY 2019 by MACMILLAN CHILDREN’S BOOKS

Genre: YOUNG ADULT FANTASY SCI-FI

TWs: Death, allusion to rape/sexual assault, abuse, self harm.


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(TM) 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.


how do you define real anyway?

This tale is told through Ana’s POV, as well as trial testimony and her interview with Dr. Foster. Obviously, she’s been accused of murdering a staff member, which shouldn’t be part of her programming as a half-human, half-android, but it quickly becomes evident that Ana may be more than her programming. The style of the chapter arrangement reminded me a bit of Sadie solely for the way it was constructed. The plots are obviously very different. I loved the alternation between story telling styles because you got details to fill in some gaps and then a bit of intrigue to create more from each bit, which only made your compulsion to keep reading grow by the chapter!

i can control my own ocular lenses. i can control a feature on my own body.

It was very different to books I’ve read this year, but still had some similar themes exploring how we treat other people and women as a commodity rather than being treated as people. Now, in this story, due to the Fantasists being created by The Kingdom(TM)’s scientists, they are considered things rather than proper beings. There is a lot wrong with the Investor’s, guards, and some other staff’s morals regarding how the Fantasists are treated (massive trigger warning for anyone who needs it regarding the mention and allusion to rape). Several of the situations and a lot of the dialogue is basically a discussion on locker room culture and the boys club. Meaning, guards and staff are allowed use the Fantasists whichever way they like and and say terrible, abusive things. Remember that quote, where happily ever after is not just a promise, but a rule? Yeah, they’re programmed to go along with things, even if they don’t like it or agree because your happiness is my happiness… I found myself struggling with some of the more difficult situations Ana faces and her conflict within herself to decide what is right, even when it goes against her programming and how The Kingdom(TM) has told her to behave. There is a lot to break down, but I’m not going to go that far into the analysis. Feel free to message me if you want to discuss, though!

that’s just how guards behave. it has always been this way.

The characters and world were extremely well developed! I loved learning more about this futuristic theme park/fantasy land. The world is rich in detail and I could clearly picture the different scenes in my mind. It is definitely the characters that bring this story to life, though! Their interaction with the world and each other is beautifully written. Jess Rothenberg has worked in YA fantasy for awhile and it shows through very clearly in her own story. This has been one of the most compelling stories I’ve read in a long time and I urge you to give it a try.

sometimes it is hard, not quite knowing what i am.


Thank you to Pan Macmillan for this review copy.

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five stars

5 thoughts on “REVIEW | The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg

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