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The Kingdom

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
The Kingdom Book Poster Image
Half-android girl questions authority in twisty thriller.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Although primarily an entertainment, The Kingdom addresses questions of free will, artificial vs. innate intelligence, and the roles young women are assigned by society.

Positive Messages

Humans aren't the only creatures that deserve love and respect. Even when trained to be subservient, young women can find ways to assert themselves.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Ana begins the novel believing that she must do everything in her power to ensure that guests enjoy their stay. Gradually, she begins to suspect that her own needs should be respected. 

Violence

A rather grisly murder is the central action of the plot. A princess nearly drowns a young visitor. It's implied that some of the hybrid princesses are sexually assaulted by members of The Kingdom's staff.

Sex

Ana falls in love with a human. They manage a couple of passionate embraces.

Language

A handful of "hell" and "damn."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Kingdom is science fiction novel by Jess Rothenberg about a half-android/half-human girl engineered to be a welcoming "princess" at a fantasy theme park called The Kingdom -- who's on trial for murder. A bloody killing is at the center of the story, and there are also a near-drowning and hints at sexual harassment or assault. There's infrequent swearing (a handful of "hell" and "damn") and minimal sexual content -- just a couple of passionate embraces.

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What's the story?

As this story opens, android-human hybrid Ana, an engineered "princess" at a fantasy theme park called THE KINGDOM is on trial for an alleged murder that took place two years ago at the park. The testimony of various witnesses alternates with chapters that recount the events that led up to the killing. As she witnesses various events that cast a dark shadow over life in the park, Ana transforms from an unquestioning and perfect servant to a more complex individual who wonders what it means to be human and whether a being with artificial intelligence can ever fall in love. Little is as it seems, and Ana's friends and foes are equally shocked by the verdict.

Is it any good?

The idea of out-of-control amusement park attractions isn't new, but this intricate thriller about an android/hybrid and her search for freedom is a blast. The Kingdom imagines living, breathing "Fantasists" who interact with visitors, showing the dangers that might lurk in such a plan. With a great initial hook and a middle section that remains taut throughout, the novel sustains suspense while topping one twist after another. Ana is a strong and complex protagonist, and she's surrounded by a diverse supporting cast. Author Jess Rothenberg expertly choreographs the genuinely surprising revelations that occur at the narrative's climax. The Kingdom is a little like Michael Crichton-meets-Philip-K.-Dick, but it stands on its own as something fresh and intriguing.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how The Kingdom explores the future of robotics and artificial intelligence. Might there one day be human/machine hybrids that become hard to distinguish from real people? If so, how should they be treated?

  • Why do people enjoy amusement parks? How are they marketed to the public and what kinds of expectations do they foster?

  • Is there such a thing as "happily ever after"? Why do people find comfort in familiar phrases and sayings?

Book details

Themes & Topics

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