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Reviewed by Vincent Dublado for Readers' Favorite
The first installment in the Tiber City Blues, Kingdom by Anderson O’Donnell is a dystopian story that will trigger our faculties to the possibilities of a grim “what if.” Tiber City is a harsh, authoritarian world predisposed to social unrest and further made volatile by a brewing rebellion from people’s discontent. In a place where surviving rather than living is the norm, three people attempt to stop a scientific research project, code-named Project Exodus. Jonathan Campbell is a fugitive from his dark past, swept by unfortunate circumstances that lead him to Tiber City. Meghan Morrison is determined to rectify the wrongs her father had done. Dylan Fitzgerald is trying to escape through the temporary allure of drugs polluting his blood and soul.
The totalitarian system that exists in Tiber City is a typical staple of dystopian fiction. In its taut pacing, Anderson O’Donnell builds an immediate awareness for his audience of the potential dangers when totalitarianism blends with a messianic complex. Dystopian genres are on the rise, but what sets this work apart is that the third person narrative gives us an equal glimpse of the travails of each of the three characters. The crisp sensory details as a means of establishing reality allow for an effective means of representation. It has no fancy trimmings of a false utopia. The plot goes straight to the root of the matter, as it provides a measure of realism by showing the ramifications of a future as the by-product of our search for perfection. This first installment will remind us about the value of our relationship to society and will leave us waiting for what the second installment will remind us of next.