The Kingdom is the ultimate fantasy theme park, with its thrilling rides and coasters, set among safari grasslands, mermaid pools, and tropical forests, a monorail, and the magical Princess Palace. Long-extinct animal species have been bioengineered and now roam free, along with hybrid animals like horseflies as well as virtual dragons.
And what’s this Kingdom without princesses? Ana is one of seven Fantasists - half-human, half-android princesses, who are engineered to make park visitors' fantasies come true. Her programming dictates that her behavior is predictable, and she is not complicated with the vast array of human emotions. So when Ana does start experiencing emotions, questioning what she's been told to think and say, her whole world inside this surreal futuristic amusement park changes. It also leads to the most controversial trial of the century and to a surprise romance.
Author Jess Rothenberg isn't new to the YA scene, having been both the editor of the popular 'Vampire Academy' series, and writer of 'The Catastrophic History of You & Me.' But this is a genre-bending departure from vampires and paranormal romance for Rothenberg, bringing us a mash-up between sci-fi and fantasy, Westworld crossed with Disney World. The Kingdom is set in Lewis County, WA, 2096, a future that comes across as incredibly eerie, the kind of ‘too good to be true’ that is undeniably unsettling from the very beginning.
Ana, being half-human, has deep questions about the role she is supposed to play in the theme park, as it becomes clear that it’s far from ‘normal’; most importantly, the question of whether she actually committed the highest crime of all - murder - pushes the story through twists and turns all the way through. The confusion Ana feels over her romantic feelings and friendships are also fantastically exaggerated examples of how the teenage years can be a minefield to deal with anyway, and the way she questions the treatment of animals hit me at my core.
This book is the perfect combination of fantasy and sci-fi, with the twist of mystery, romance and good dose of a fairytale mixed in, and it brings up so many profound questions about humanity and how we treat others. It felt like nothing else I had read lately and so I loved this deeply original book.
*Thank you to Christian Trimmer for introducing me to this delight, and Henry Holt Books for Young Readers for treating me to an early copy.
‘The Grace Year’ is the brutal and harrowing story about the young women of Garner County who are forced to spend their sixteenth year in a secluded encampment outside the town as they ‘embrace their magic.’ They must release their powers before they marry or go off to work in the fields or labor houses, before they return to civilization, that’s IF they return, surviving poachers who hunt them for their ‘magic’, and ultimately, surviving the time they spend with each other.
This is a feminist tale about survival, group dynamics (hysteria?), and the strength of spirit in the face of incredible adversity. The young women, teenagers, are faced with the odds stacked against them, in a patriarchal society that deems them as property, dangerous, basically as subservient pets. Many of them (all unforgettable characters) fall into the traps that are designed for them, but the main character Tierney, rails against them, questioning her predicament, and hopes for change. Over the course of the ‘Grace Year’ Tierney discovers as much about those around her as she does about herself, and draws on her own strength, of which she didn’t know she even had. It’s an amazing, albeit, often violent story about a young woman discovering herself and her own power against all odds.
This stunning novel from Kim Liggett will draw comparisons with ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’, but it also made me think of both ‘Lord of The Flies’ and ‘The Crucible’, all classics, well-known for their controversy and hard-hitting subjects.
Themes of feminism, social hierarchies, group mechanics, religion, and flower and color imagery throughout the book are vivid and powerful; it’s easy to see why this is being adapted for television before it has even been published. I think it will be hard to read this and not have it resonate with the reader in a strong way; it’s dark and haunting and it honestly blew me away. I want to read it again before I see any TV adaptation because it was just THAT GOOD.
ON SALE: 9.17.19
Published by: Pan (11th January 2018)
Seventeen years ago, Damian Walker abducted five women because the voices in his head told him to. Now he has been declared sane and is about to be released back onto Manchester’s streets with a new identity. But within hours, there is another attack similar to his previous ones. Walker has proof it’s not him – but is he reliable, and, if so, who is trying to frame him?
DI Jessica Daniel and her chief are given a parallel task to the main investigation: keep an eye on Walker – but that’s not all Jessica has to do.
Rock star Blaine Banner is playing a series of homecoming gigs but is convinced someone’s trying to kill him, while a bride-to-be is picketing the police station, demanding someone finds her missing fiancé.
All the while, faces from Jessica’s past are watching and waiting. Someone wants a word . . .
I adore Jessica Daniel and in this book she faces some of her toughest challenges yet, in both her professional and personal life. Focusing mainly on her work, Jessica has difficult cases to crack and a team of mainly familiar faces to ably assist her. There was plenty going on to keep me interested, from Jessica's flits to assist rock star Blaine at all hours and the added tension of a side team on surveillance, but ultimately I felt the identity of the killer somewhat unbelievable, hence not awarding five stars. But an entertaining, engrossing read nonetheless.
This book kept me reading. Well, parts of it. Other parts were eye-rollingly bad. The narrative framed as a direct recollection of events from Rachel (mother of missing boy) and from Jim (primary detective) were compelling. They felt authentic. The supposed psychiatric case notes were just awful. Even with my limited experience, I know better, so the author apparently didn’t make use of consultants as she did for the police work. There’s an ongoing theme of professionalism and competency throughout this story, and I doubt any licensed counselor writing those notes could be considered either. Not to harp on it, but every one of those sections kicked me completely out of the story. But if you can distance yourself from those fatal flaws, the rest of this book is absolutely worth the time spent reading it. There was plenty of intrigue and deception to put the reader off the path of whodunnit. There are few likeable characters, and in fact I spent much of the book wanting to give the mother of the missing child a swift kick in the pants. But I actually like that. Overall, worth the time and energy spent reading it.
This was the eBook version, a gift from my mother who loved it. I read this for the 2018 Halloween Bingo square Genre: Suspense: anything that fits into the suspense genre.