3 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
Kingsley by Carolyn O’Neal is a young adult dystopian novel that takes a look at the potential disasters that could await mankind, thanks to man-made pollution and the effects that could lead to the downfall of men. Literally, men. In this alternate, yet highly realistic future, all males of the world, starting with the most basic of animals and moving up to mammals over time, have been struck by a disease that triggers the Y-chromosome, leading to headaches, tumors, reproductive failure, and eventually the death of all male creatures on earth. This apocalypse, known as the Collapse, has a disastrous effect on the world as a whole, as plants and food crops also die off due to a lack of pollination by the insects and birds that have gone extinct.
The first part of this book follows fourteen-year-old Kingsley as the Collapse begins. He lives with his mother, the caregiver for an elderly plantation owner and oil tycoon, and is secretive in love with Amanda, the granddaughter of the wealthy family. Unlike other girls their age, Amanda has long been concerned about the environment and the strange sickness that has recently taken over the local wildlife. Kingsley’s mother only seem to care about money, and now that Kingsley has been diagnosed with the Y-chromosome tumors, she’s up to even more shady activities.
The second part of the book jumps ahead and takes a look at forty years in the future, after the Collapse has run its course and all of the men in the world have died. I don’t want to go into too much detail about this section because it would certainly spoil some pretty significant twists in the story, and I was definitely surprised when those popped up in the plot. I must admit that I kind of enjoyed following Kingsley as a teenager – he was young and naive but very well-portrayed and easy to sympathize with due to his tragic life and diagnosis with the new disease – so I didn’t much care for the characters who dominated this second part of the book.
There are a lot of heavy themes that are addressed within this well-written, well-researched, fast-paced novel. Environmental concerns, pollution, oil drilling, the extinction of certain species of insects/animals, rape, war, cloning, genetic manipulation, feminism, anti-feminism, and so on. This list actually looks tiny compared to all of the topics that seemed to be explored throughout this book. On one hand, I highly admire the author for attacking so many heavy topics and not dumbing them down to simplify things for the audience for which this book was targeted. Teenagers and young adults are smarter than we often give them credit for, and this book doesn’t beat around the bush about the harsh realities of the world.
On the other hand, there are so many things crammed into these pages, I found it a bit overwhelming to get a clear sense of what this book was even supposed to be about. Based on the cover and description of the book, I thought this would be focused on the effects that the extinction of bees would have on the world. While this scenario is mentioned briefly in the beginning, it doesn’t seem to be the focus of the story at all.
Overall, I really enjoyed reading this story. The majority of the book was full of action, with lots of characters and complex relationships playing out among them. However, the first part of the book was much more enjoyable to read than the second part, especially near the very end of the book when the pacing just seemed to veer away from the pacing of the rest of the book. There was so much going on with too many characters involved in the action, and then the ending of the book just came on abruptly. I feel like there wasn’t much of a conclusion at all. For this reason, I give Kingsley by Carolyn O’Neal a rating of 3 out of 4 stars.
View: on Bookshelves | on Amazon
Like ALynnPowers's review? Post a comment saying so!