The Kingdom

Holt. May 2019. 352p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781250293855.
Gr 9 Up–In 2095, the Kingdom is the most technologically advanced entertainment complex in the world, a Disney-esque theme park where a patented fusion of virtual reality and interactive technology provide unparalleled enjoyment for guests. Ana is one of the park’s seven Fantasists, human-android princesses designed in a lab to read and mirror human emotion and provide the ultimate interactive experience. Ana and her sisters are programmed to obey the Kingdom’s Supervisors, behave within acceptable boundaries, and display only artificial emotion. But when her sister Nia disappears, Ana begins asking questions about the status quo and experiencing emotions she doesn’t have words for. She befriends a handsome maintenance worker at the park, who hints at a dark undercurrent beneath the Kingdom’s sparkle and inspires her to dream of a more fulfilling life outside the park gates. Then Ana is accused of murder; she faces the fight of her life to save her sisters and reclaim her future. Rothenberg skillfully constructs the narrative via a series of flashbacks and transcripts from Ana’s trial, and despite initially slow pacing and a slightly clumsy ending, she excels at capturing the arc of Ana’s emotional development from machine-like to passionate.
VERDICT This highly accessible title is recommended to both science fiction fans and teens who don’t normally read in this genre, and to readers who enjoyed titles such as Lauren Oliver’s Replica and S.J. Kincaid’s The Diabolic.

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