Cover Image: Kings of a Dead World

Kings of a Dead World

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Member Reviews

Sadly this book was not for me.  I love the idea behind the book but upon reading found it a bit more complex to understand than I had originally thought.
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I would like to thank Netgalley for providing me the eArc of this book in exchange for a honest review. 

This review is a generic one as I'll use it for the books I am not leaving a review for. 

The reasons I did not leave a review is as follows:
- I did not like the book or couldn't get into because of the writing style, didn't like the plot/setting or MC was annoying. 
- Love triangles, I loathe them. And there is at least one book I won't be reading because of this. 
- Plot was so agonisingly slow. 
- If the approved book is second book in the series it means that I didn't like or dnfed the first one thus won't be reading the second one. 
- Or there was a technical issue and couldn't download the book or it was achieved before I could download. 

And as I like to say life is too short to do things you do not enjoy and since reading books is a for of escapisim I'll hold on to that thought. 

I don't want to disrespect the author or the publishing company. The reason I'm doing it to improve my statistics on this forum and Netgalley does not accept the fact that I won't be leaving a feedback due to dnf.
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A clever and unusual book, set in two time periods, although that did not detract from the ease of following the storyline. I was surprised to find the earlier time period quite compelling, as it chronicled the radicalisation of one of the main characters, which I didn’t expect to enjoy but I did find fascinating. The later period was more ‘my thing’, set in a very dystopian world and containing some quite unusual ideas.
I nearly knocked off a point, I would have done had I been able to take half a point, because I felt that the question of who was overseeing the world was not answered, and I felt the ending rather rushed. I decided not to do that, in the hope that there will be a sequel in which my questions will be answered!
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Wow, this scifi/dystopia kept me up reading past my bedtime—that didn't happen for a long time! The whole concept of this book is highly original and was a breeze to read. I'll keep my eyes peeled for more books by this author!
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[Note: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.] – Spoiler alert! - @sandstonepress
The book is another episode in the apocalyptic dystopia revival of these last years. Unfortunately, I read it just right after “Brave new world”, and, considering the latter was written 80 years ago, it shows. Yet, I would recommend reading the book as it is in any case a nicely flowing science fiction novel.
There are some quirks and flaws in the story, which are not quite explained (unless there is space for a sequel or a prequel), such as what exactly happens in between the two storylines over which the books is narrated (as an example, who exactly is Rip Van, and how it came to rule this world or segment of the world?).
Also, the fact that you are brought to sympathize with a terrorist in a “V for Vendetta” way, leave somehow a bad taste in the aftermath, although it is fiction only.
The best message, however, is brought at the end, when you find out that, despite objective differences, the passing of time, the hostile environment, family and human relationships are the saviors of the day. As Jamie Mollart says in the acknowledgments, “somewhere at its heart, this noverl is about family.”
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Kinds of a Dead World kept me up all night! I couldn't put it down, and I what a cool concept. This should be made into a film! Highly original and clever.
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An intriguing vision of a future in which the world's resources have dwindled and the population artificially sleeps for three months. The concept is quite frightening but believable given that the ice caps are melting and the climate is changing. I felt the ending a little rushed but it was an enjoyable and thoughtful read. Less violence shown would have been good.
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The cover and premise of this novel immediately intrigued me, and I wasn't disappointed! This sci-fi dystopia set in our near future explores a world in which drastic actions have had to be taken to control the population and distribute resources in a Britain ravaged by climate change and political unrest. I loved the structure of the novel, jumping between the two main characters who both had intiguing roles to play within this eerie world - Mollart's writing skillfully unwound the mystery of the world they're in, I loved the depth of his characters who were all morally grey but well-developed in their motivations and passions. There were some slower sections, but the action more than made up for it, and the slow tension builds up to a crescendo of an ending, which left me wanting even more. A fantastic book that I will definitely be left thinking about for weeks, and I will be on the look out for more of Jamie Mollart's writing in the future!
Just to note: There were a few spelling and grammar mistakes throughout the book, but I understand that this was an advanced copy, and I hope these will have been resolved for the finished book.
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I feel like I zoned out for most of this book. Given that it took me weeks to get through a 352 pager, this definitely didn't grip me as I'd hoped. Here's what you're in for:

✨Post-apocalyptic world where everyone takes extra long naps in tubes
✨ One man who can send people to the land of nod at a swift command
✨ A revolution to fuck shit up

Perhaps there's just a lot of apocalypse types books all hitting at once.
Perhaps it's just me tbh.
BUT this book just didn't hook me as I'd hoped. The world is fascinating, the characters are interesting but for some reason, my poor brain just didn't plonk its fingernails into it until the last quarter. 

Now if I could focus purely on the end, I'd LOVE this book. The panic and despair were on point and I was legit engrossed. The uncomfortableness and downright disgusting behaviour from the Janitors towards the Sleepers was (unfortunately) something I could see happening. Everything came together nicely.

And it got me thinking which is always the scary part - shit like this could happen.
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This is a dystopian sci-fi and it also fits into the climate-fiction genre too

Three narratives and two timelines - Jamie Mollart has done an exceptional job of fusing these together to create an awesome reading experience.

Included in my May Wrap Up video:

We’re in a world where all the resources on earth are running out and the powers that be have decided that the solution is something called “the sleep”, everyone sleeps for three months straight and then wakes for a month so essentially you’re only awake for 3 months in the entire year.

This was an interesting read, thought provoking, and some good twists as well.
I'd love to see this on the big screen, This has got massive potential for a movie or a tv series.
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DNF at 25%

The premise of this book intrigued me: a dystopian future in which resources are scarce and the majority of the population spends their time asleep with only a limited time awake every few months. We follow two perspectives, the elderly Ben (who wakes up at the beginning of the novel) and the janitor Peruzzi who is responsible for taking care of the sleepers.

Unfortunately, I couldn't get into the rhythm of the story. I wasn't able to relate to either of the main characters and the story didn't succeed in making me care about them. 

However, my biggest reason for not finishing this book is both some fairly graphic and in my opinion unnecessary violence as well as multiple instances of incredibly sexist and objectifying descriptions of women. I don't think they served any point in the story and could easily have been left out, all they did was make me feel sick with how gross they were. 

Overall, I was bitterly disappointed by this book.
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Kings of a Dead World is a thought-provoking, gripping piece of speculative fiction that is set in a dystopian future not too far from the present. All resources of the planet have been depleted, flooding has changed the coasts and Earth is overpopulated. As a consequence, the world’s powers have come up with technological solutions to periodically put people in Sleep mode not to consume more. Janitors are “supervisors” of individual cities: among their duties, they have to win Creds off each other -- which correspond to money for the people to buy what they need -- in trading sessions that remind of a mixture of the stock market and tactic games. New deities and collective rituals have been introduced, too. This world is monitored in Big Brother style and revolts cannot happen because the Janitors can put people to sleep with a single click. Yet there are cracks in the system and by the end the scenario will be radically altered. 

We follow the narrative from three interesting perspectives that will intersect at certain points: the compelling narrative of Ben, an old man whose wife has progressive dementia and he struggles to keep her in touch with reality and to find food in this new world; Peruzzi the Janitor, who commits hubris as he discovers that he can roam out there when everyone sleeps and be king of the dead world -- every outing of his is full of suspense; and an unnamed terrorist from the past who had fought desperately to alter the course of events and gives insights into how this world came to be. 

This novel fuses Orwellian elements, from surveillance to the dilapidated, dusty atmospheres of the city, and Gibsonian touches (The Matrix). I found the premises interesting and original, both in the treatment of overpopulation as a main lens and in the gamification aspect, i.e. imagining how to make markets flow. Moreover, the plot is gripping as you feel you are always on the verge of something ominous and it was intriguing to see characters going to the extremes – the scenes of societal collapse felt devastating and full of impact. Despite total ecological collapse, it was possible to put together quicky a sophisticated global control system; while this seemed far fetched to me at the start, the reasons become clear toward the very end and I could only fully appreciate on second thoughts. Some parts/elements felt a bit too long/distracting, and the introduction of new divinities also felt a bit awkard (how can humanity come to believe in Chronos in a very short span of time?), but the new collective rites are strange and quirky and everything in this action-packed novel seems perfect for a movie: you actually feel you can visualize what is going on. Altogether the novel is well conceived, full of interesting ideas and kept me guessing and hooked till the end.
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“People had been expecting the world to end for so long that no one really noticed when it did.”

My thanks to Sandstone Press for an eARC via NetGalley of ‘Kings of a Dead World’ by Jamie Mollart in exchange for an honest review. 
This is a powerful work of speculative fiction set approximately sixty years in the future. With the Earth’s resources dwindling and the effects of climate change, a series of drastic solutions are implemented to decrease the population. One of these is The Sleep, periods of hibernation that are imposed upon the population. Each sleeping population is watched over by a Janitor, a member of an elite who remain awake.

The narrative is split into three storylines. The first features elderly Ben Middleton, who has just woken from his three month sleep and now has a month with his beloved wife, Rose, whose increasing dementia means that she is quickly slipping away from him. 

The second focuses on Peruzzi, a Janitor living in a compound assisted by a powerful AI, named Ripley. (‘Alien’ tribute?). He craves contact with the family that he has never known. Both men are aware of growing dissatisfaction in the population of the city that is about to wake up.

The third storyline is just described as Before and features Ben in his 30s giving an account of his early relationship with Rose and as well as his involvement with the charismatic Andreas. They were both university professors and Andreas involves Ben in the NSF (Natural Selection Front), an environmental group that quickly moves into ecoterrorism. 

Ben’s history wasn’t always easy reading though I felt that Jamie Mollart did well in depicting Ben’s radicalisation. 

Jamie Mollart is an active member of the recently established Climate Fiction Writers League. This global collective seeks to raise awareness about climate change through their writing. I certainly feel that ‘Kings of a Dead World’ accomplished this through examining the experiences of a few living within this dead world. 

Even though I was quite taken with it, there were a few issues. The narrative was very focused on the experiences of a few men, with little input from women. Yes, there was Rose and Kitty, Andreas’ sometimes girlfriend, but only Ripley, who was identified as female even though an AI, emerged as a strong presence for me. 

It was also a little difficult to get a sense of the larger picture of the justification for changes such as the banning of all religions. Despite this the Janitors have adopted the ecstatic worship of Bacchus, a golden bull. Was this a curated religion to allow them to blow off a little steam? The golden bull did appear to reference Old Testament frolics rather than Roman bacchanalia.  

There was quite a lot of action, though some of the violence was quite strong. Plus, a few ‘ewww’ moments with the Sleepers (not all Janitors were ethical). The final section was very tense and page-turning exciting. I did feel that the ending was a bit abrupt though it does allow an opening for further writing in this dead world. 

Overall, I found this an intelligent, thought-provoking novel that examined serious issues and yet was both readable and entertaining. Pretty much what I look for in science/speculative/dystopian fiction.

4.5 stars rounded up to 5.
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Kings of a Dead World  by Jamie Mollart
General Fiction (Adult) | Literary Fiction | Sci Fi & Fantasy

The Earth’s limited resources are dwindling. The solution is The Sleep: periods of hibernation imposed on those who remain with only a Janitor to watch over the sleepers.
In the sleeping city, elderly Ben struggles with his limited waking time and the disease that is stealing his wife from him. Outside, lonely Janitor Peruzzi craves the family he never knew. Around them both, dissatisfaction is growing. The city is about to wake.

My Review.
This is an awe-inspiring novel, a real page-turner. It is a dystopian story designed to pull at your very heartstrings.
Reading this, I am thinking J.G Ballard, Aldous Huxley and George Orwell.
High Rise, Brave New World and 1984 all rolled into one.
This is brilliant because they are three of my all-time favourite books.
Kings of a Dead World is definitely an incredible read. Jamie Mollart presents us with a future that is not beyond the realms of possibility. 
All the growing of food and production of other goods are done away from towns and cities. These tasks are performed by robots but, it is up to the Janitor's to trade goods on a stock market and gain credits for the populace.
There is a lot to like about the character of Ben. He loves his wife Rose but, he knows the futility of the future. He feels such pain, not for himself but for her and the many like her.
Peruzzi is a flawed Janitor, built like a brick toilet (too much spare time on his hands), who is quickly, getting disillusioned with life.
There is a lot of passion and empathy within the characters involved. Ben especially, despite his ageing frailties, shows the reader how as human beings, we can still find strength when needed.
We have glimpses of how and why Ben and Rose got together and who the cult leader Andreas was, and how they got involved with him. It also goes on to explain the anarchy that the cult caused that preceded events. But no spoilers.
The dialogues are very realistic, as you would expect, so prepare for imaginative language and content.
As each chapter progresses, it ramps up the excitement. And the pace was relentless throughout. I hope that does not sound like a contradiction on my part.
Kings of a Dead World is also quite thought-provoking. There is a passage in the book where Ben says, "The meeting of the United World Congress was to be held the following month. The leaders were to be flown in over a period of three days, and decisions were to be made that would end the shortages and over-population and the rising waters and wars and starvation. The solutions presented ranged from extreme to unimaginable, and there was a feeling, certainly amongst the people that I associated with, that this was the final solution, no one, ever expects they will see Armageddon in their lifetime. no-one expected the world wars, the middle-east wars, the Korean holocaust, the oil wars, and yet, somehow there was always an end to them, and the human race marched on."
And I thought how poignant, very apt and who knows maybe very prophetic.
I think this may be a controversial book for some, then so were most of Ballards, he didn't do too bad as an author, did he?
Maybe that is the best compliment I personally can pay the Kings of the Dead, if it had been written by J G Ballard, I would not have been the least bit surprised.
I am sure we will be hearing a great deal more from Jamie Mollart.
Suffice to say, I really enjoyed the book. It was insightful, intense and imaginative. Kings of a Dead World is a thought-provoking thriller of a novel that will entertain to the very end.
Thank you, NetGalley and Sandstone Press, for the ADC.
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"Kings of a Dead World" is definitely an uncomfortable read. Jamie Mollart presents us with a future that is far too possible and distasteful. As entertainment, though, it can't be faulted. It's a brilliantly written and immersive story that's hard to put down. The characters are realistic, and "Ben" was my favourite. One for the bookshelf labelled "WARNINGS TO HUMANITY".

My thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley. This review was written voluntarily and is entirely my own, unbiased, opinion.
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Handmaid's Tales meets the Inverted World
This is a fantastically imaginative novel, eerily prescient in light of the pandemic and, like The Handmaid's Tale, a stone's throw away from happening.
The story tells of a world run out of resources and the only solution is to put the majority of the population to sleep for three out of every four months. The novel follows the story of primarily two characters, as well as a third narrative looking back at the past.
This novel is incredibly well written and well-paced. It was a real page-turner as issues escalate and catastrophe is anticipated.
At a deeper level, the commentary on society and human behaviour is insightful - motivations are really well thought out for most characters.
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DNF @ 31%.

I had high hopes for this title but it wasn't what I was expecting it to be. 

There is a lot of heavy, graphic violence on-page which just felt superfluous. When it got to the point that two male characters were approaching a woman Sleeper in her family home (asleep outwith her control) and being sexually aroused by the fact that they could do anything to her and she wouldn't remember... I genuinely just felt sick reading that shit. I don't care to know where that storyline goes.

There is also a lot of gore and on-page graphic violence - heads exploding etc., which is just really not my thing. Reminds me more of a teenage boy's computer game or something.

Besides all this, from my initial reading of the blurb, I assumed the entire plot was focused on a future setting, but there are flashbacks to the time at which people became forced to be Sleepers. I really didn't enjoy this storyline and just had no interest in it. It's also where most of the graphic violence happened up until this point, and I found myself skipping over large sections to avoid reading the graphic details.

Content warnings available on Storygraph.
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I think it was Clive James in one of his collected TV reviews who made the observation that science fiction (and especially the speculative variety, I’d add) tells you almost nothing about the future it represents and everything about the time in which it is written. Thus even the likes of the old Republic Flash Gordon serials say more about the twin fears of xenophobia and organised crime that permeated the Depression-hit 1930s. And Blade Runner says more about 1980’s fear of the effects of global corporatisation on the self and the then nascent concern over environmentalism than it does about 2019 (either the fictional version or the real one we’ve recently lived through).

And this is also certainly true of Jamie Mollart’s Kings of a Dead World. It’s core concept — that dwindling resources and overpopulation leave the human race seeking drastic, and bleak, measures to ensure survival is an impactful premise because you know that it’s a real one and that whatever real answers we come up with aren’t going to be pretty, if we even come up with any at all. 

It’s this disquiet that keeps us reading. It’s an issue in which every one of us invested, every one of us has a stake. The problem for me is that Mollart’s conception of our future world never quite fully lifts itself off the page. The best analogy I can think of is to take the two big hitters of this genre — Orwell’s 1984 and Huxley’s Brave New World — and use them as something of a case study. Both are great books that have pertinent points to make even today but I always feel that Orwell’s world attains a solid and believable reality that Huxley’s never does. The reason is the same as I ultimately found the world of Kings unconvincing. The world-building, while skilful, is too comprehensive, too complete. For a world set a mere 60 years from now, the entire social hierarchy, from the Bacchus-worshipping Janitors to the Rip Van-controlled Sleepers seems just that bit too divorced from the world that precedes it. Times move on, often dramatically, but echoes of the old orders persist. For instance, we are very much in the digital age now but distinct aspects of Elizabethan feudalism still persist, and perhaps always will. (Although it should be mentioned that there is a pretty credible in-world reason why this might be the case but one that spoilers prevent me from making any more explicit).

For me, where Kings really works is as political allegory. In representing a world where a sophisticatedly manipulated populace are controlled by an elite who attempt to prop up a failing and increasingly ineffective systems of stock markets, the book really works. And as a Ballardian parable of a society falling into violent collapse it’s an effective and thrilling read. The atmosphere of rising dread in the Awake sections of the novel is palpable and credible and these are definitely the strongest portions of the novel. The desperation as the ageing Ben struggles to provide for his dementia-ridden wife Rose amidst a backdrop of fraying tempers and dwindling resources provide some of the most emotionally affecting moments in the book.

Less effective are the Asleep sections which focus on Peruzzi, the city’s Janitor. You can see why they’re there — to give us an insight into the wider organisation of the city than we could get merely from Ben’s POV. But they are less involving perhaps because Peruzzi and his fellow Janitors are isolated, solitary figures, hard to empathise with, even before we start to see their truly amoral, even murderous, sides emerge. And their Paganistic worship of Bacchus gives these sections an almost 70s Logan’s Run-esque vibe.

Ultimately, the Peruzzi and Ben storylines are married together but not in a way that I find wholly convincing, relying as it does just a bit too much on massive coincidence. We’re asked to make an emotional leap in the last pages of the book but I’m not sure sufficient groundwork was put in to make it stick. Mollart is incredibly adept at the action sequences which are gripping and zing along nicely but he does tend to elide over the emotional a little. 

By contrast, I would liked to have seen a little more in the Before section, of the events that led up to the introduction of the Sleepers. This section is well-realised and the sequence of events of the ‘end of the world as we know it’ feels all too credible and realistic. But there feels as if there was scope here for more character work in the relationships between the younger versions of Ben and Rose and both their relationships with charismatic cult leader Andreas. There’s also an interesting relationship with the disturbingly violent police officer Quinn, who pursues them and who later plays a pivotal role in the story. Putting the conflict between these two more directly into the story could, I think, have been interesting.

But despite its minor flaws, it’s a compelling, well-written thriller and certainly does force the reader to engage with world issues that really should be more on our minds than they currently are.
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Kings Of A Dead World had a highly imaginative and powerful premise, immediately involving and beautifully done.

Moving between past and present, from a group of revolutionaries (or terrorists depending on how you look at it) to a world that sleeps to protect resources, this novel proposes a truly terrifyingly possible end to life as we know it.

Jamie Mollart immerses us into two lives, one old, one young, both with their own particular demons, living in a dead world. As we learn what lead them here, a darkly observant narrative unfolds as both realise that the status quo might not be exactly as it appears.

This is an intelligent, thought provoking tale which is also highly addictive and full of character twists and turns that really engage the reader with the world created here. It is melancholy and oft beautiful with an underlying sense of unease that stays with you.

Really excellent. I have no problem at all with highly recommending it.
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With an overpopulated earth and resources dwindling the only option the Government has determined for its inhabitants is to put them to sleep; so begins the story of how this dystopian world came to be. We hear from two viewpoints, Ben Middleton who tries to stop this new world with his anarchist group NSF and Peruzzi the caretaker for his districts sleeping inhabitants. 

The story and its characters were so gripping that I read this in one sitting. The two protagonists Ben and Peruzzi were both flawed but so real that I couldn't relax until I knew exactly what was going to happen to them. 5 Stars and would definitely recommend!
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