The Kingdom by Jess Rothenburg
Author: Jess Rothenburg
Published: May 28, 2019
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars
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 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.
I was fascinated as soon as I saw it! The cover is amazing and then the description sealed the deal. If Jurassic Park was done at Disney World and had more than just dinosaurs, then you’d have The Kingdom. Rothenburg does a wonderful job of showing the wonder and fantasy of places like theme parks and what they can mean to people, especially kids. However, her contempt for the huge corporate entertainment conglomerate is easy seen. I can’t really say that I blame her either.
The story focuses on Ana, one of the Kingdom’s AI princesses. While there is a simple plot with a slightly predictable twist, the point of the story is Ana’s growth as a conscious being. Rothenburg tackles a lot of those ethical issues that Jurassic Park focuses on. Ana starts to question her place in life as a whole which then throws off the well oiled machine that is the Kingdom.
It was interesting to see her thought patterns and evolution from the naive, sheltered artificial being into a self aware, questioning woman. Overall, its an engaging read that leaves you thinking and pondering the morals of technological progress. I enjoyed it and I would recommend it to many Disney fans!
When by Victoria Laurie
Author: Victoria Laurie
Published: January 13, 2015
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: December 26, 2019- January 6, 2020
Jessica’s Rating: 5 stars
Maddie Fynn is a shy high school junior, cursed with an eerie intuitive ability: she sees a series of unique digits hovering above the foreheads of each person she encounters. Her earliest memories are marked by these numbers, but it takes her father’s premature death for Maddie and her family to realize that these mysterious digits are actually death dates, and just like birthdays, everyone has one.
Forced by her alcoholic mother to use her ability to make extra money, Maddie identifies the quickly approaching death date of one client’s young son, but because her ability only allows her to see the when and not the how, she’s unable to offer any more insight. When the boy goes missing on that exact date, law enforcement turns to Maddie.
Soon, Maddie is entangled in a homicide investigation, and more young people disappear and are later found murdered. A suspect for the investigation, a target for the murderer, and attracting the attentions of a mysterious young admirer who may be connected to it all, Maddie’s whole existence is about to be turned upside down. Can she right things before it’s too late?
I loved everything about When by Victoria Laurie: A mystery, an intriguing ability that most people would not want to have, and what to do with that ability.
Our protagonist Maddie has had a tough life; She sees numbers on everyone’s foreheads in person or in pictures, and those numbers are actually the individual’s death date. Her father died when she was younger and then her family realized what the numbers meant. Her mother is a non-functioning alcoholic due to her husband’s death, and Maddie feels to blame for everything.
Maddie does readings to supplement income and give people their death date. After doing a reading for a woman on one of her children, then a young boy goes missing, Maddie then finds herself getting attention from the FBI. The FBI agents don’t know what to think of Maddie, but suspect her of having something to do with the disappearance. Then a teen goes missing and Maddie’s whole life is turned around.
I really did love this novel. I started listening to the audiobook at the end of 2019; it was the first book I finished in 2020, and what a start to the new year! I really liked Maddie and could not envision having this ability. Imagine seeing everyone’s death date as you pass by them! What do you do with this ability? How do you handle seeing a death date that is in the immediate future? Do the death dates change or are they stagnant?
Despite the novel being YA and scenes taking place in school, fortunately there is not much teen drama involved. We are full force mystery with this story! The mystery was compelling and I was satisfied with the climax and ending of the novel: Who is taking these kids and why?
Narrated by Whitney Dykehouse, she portrayed Maddie perfectly. I also pictured Maddie as the teen on the cover. This one would make a great movie or limited tv series. I would love to know what happens next with Maddie, and if she ever comes across anyone else with this ability.
The Lost by Natasha Preston
Author: Natasha Preston
Published: March 26, 2019
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 5 stars
In the small town of Aurora, teens go missing all the time. But when one of Piper and Hazel’s classmates disappears, they become determined to find out the truth of what happened to her.
While investigating, they meet three handsome and rich grad students…who kidnap them. The girls are taken to a building in the middle of a privately-owned forest. The building isn’t just designed to keep them locked away—every room is a test in survival. And Piper and Hazel won’t give up without a fight.
I keep comparing Preston’s books to Criminal Minds; I can’t help it, they’re so similar! The Lost might be her most intense yet!
The story is simple, the crime is uncomplicated, but all the detailing and the gritty realism fills in all the gaps and turns the story into a complete book. Teens disappear, Piper gets kidnapped, the boys don’t wear masks or hide from the teens, teens try to find a way out, do the teens escape? Simple, right? Nope!!
The emotions and feelings, and psychology, and physical torture is described in minute detail that you can’t help but sit and consider how you’d respond in the same situation. Being locked in room that gets cold and then hot and back and forth for hours probably sounds worse than it is . . . Until Preston sticks Piper in that room and you end up living it with her! That’s what sells this book so completely. I was so caught up in the nitty gritty, that the book was over before I knew it! While the material is pretty mature, I’d be ok with giving this to teens. I think it would be a great educational tool not only in criminal psychology, but also as a cautionary tale. Anyone who likes crime drama, will love this book!