Kingdom of Without

S. & S. Nov. 2023. 288p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781665901444.
Gr 9 Up–In a futuristic, alternate-world Beijing, Lilium Corp, corrupt makers of addictive drug Complacency, essentially controls the empire. As a child, Ning’er’s father sold two of her limbs to feed his Complacency habit, and now the 17-year-old cat burglar often sells her prosthetic limbs to survive; luckily, a friend makes replacements. Insufficient cash flow drives Ning’er to agree to a heist for the Red Yaksha, a Robin Hood figure seeking to rescue a young revolutionary imprisoned by Lilium. On meeting her employer, though, Ning’er is stunned to recognize the irritatingly handsome Cheng Yun as a high-ranking figurehead for the brutal Gendarme. Ning’er knows she cannot risk an attraction to him, but her heart says otherwise. This thriller includes familiar dystopic, romantic, and heist tropes: corrupt governments and addictive drugs; enemies-to-lovers and only-one-bed; and conspirators with multiple skill sets. In a well-constructed world, Ning’er is a tough, talented, and sympathetic character, and Cheng Yun is charismatic and complex, aware of the ethically shady aspects of his double life. The pacing balances heart-pounding action with extended sequences in which Ning’er and Cheng Yun build their doomed romance. While the Red Yaksha’s network includes many distinctive characters, some readers might struggle to remember them all. Also, a few decisions—e.g., discussing top secret information in a crowded bar—seem questionable. All characters are cued Asian, with names sometimes given in Chinese characters. Due to swearing and violence, this is recommended for high school.
VERDICT Hand this dystopic-heist-romance in an alt-world China to fans of Marissa Meyer’s Cinder.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing