Part near-future dystopian science fiction thriller, and part cult horror novel, Kingdom is a chilling journey through the underworld of Tiber City. It's a story about greed, debauchery, idealism, and the shaky foundations of even our best intentions. Politics, science, and humanity - none of it is safe from the dirty, distorted lens that Anderson O'Donnell allows to peek into every darkened alleyway, and behind every closed door.
Told through three perspectives, the story takes us into the minds of a rich playboy, a fallen geneticist, and corporate guru, and forces us to witness the world through their eyes. Having multiple perspectives that are so very different from one another is a challenge, but Anderson handles it well. His characters aren't particularly deep, and it's hard to form any sort of emotional attachment to them, but they're distinct, powerful, and effective. They're neither likeable nor admirable, but they do demand a certain degree of sympathy, if not compassion.
Where the story really shines is in its world-building and atmosphere. Portraying such a dark and gritty dystopia only a few years into the future is another risk, but it lends the story a sense of immediate consequence that really grabs hold of the reader. The designer drugs, the genetic engineering, and the body modifications are just a part of the package. Ironically, since I'm far more interested in the science and the technology, I would have like more detail about the order of monks and what led them to their soul experiments, but maybe that will come out more in subsequent books.
The writing itself isn't just solid, it's superb in its use of language. The dialogue is stronger than I've encountered in quite some while, with several quotes and conversations that would definitely become part of pop culture had this been a movie. O'Donnell's voice is dark, and highly opinionated, but that's one of the charms of the book. If he has one flaw, it's that he tends to ramble on a bit a times. The story could have been a bit leaner in places, but I'm not sure it'd be as easy to maintain the overall tone without his commentary, so it's a hard choice to make.
Unique, original, and exciting, Kingdom proves that O'Donnell is an author to watch.Originally reviewed at Beauty in Ruins