Title // Divided Kingdom
Author // Rupert Thomson
Publication Date // 2006
Publisher // Bloomsbury
Readership // Adult
Genre // Speculative Science-Fiction, Dystopian
Rating // ✭✭✭
When an eight year-old boy is removed from his home in the middle of the night, he soon learns that he is the victim of an extraordinary political experiment. This story is a vision of the future, as well as being a satire and tale of love and metaphysical happenings.
Where to begin with Divided Kingdom?
I was gifted a copy of Divided Kingdom for my birthday and I’d never heard of the book or the author, but I trust the friend who gave it to me and after reading the blurb, I was really curious as to what the book might be about. It is, as it turns out, about a possible dystopian future, where the United Kingdom has been divided into four factions, each independent of one another. Each faction is filled with people who represent different personality types. The ruling political parties simply decide to try an experiment – every single person in the U.K. has had their personality tested and in the middle of the night everyone is divided up, across the entire country. Families are separated, never to speak to one another again, and walls are built up, in an effort to curb a rising violent and volatile society.
The concept is entirely fascinating.
(Also, strangely, it feels closer to the present day than I’d like to admit, but I’m not going to touch real-life politics here.)
Throughout the story, we follow Thomas (although it’s not his original name), from the moment he is separated from his parents and is relocated to another family in his appointed faction. He’s an ordinary kid, and grows up following the new laws of the divided kingdom, but is shrewd enough to see when people are trying to use him to find fault in others, particularly his new family. As an adult, he rises the ranks of the government and finds himself in a position to visit other ‘kingdoms’ and represent the Red faction at a conference.
From there, things get messy and strange as he finds himself questioning the division between people.
I liked the story, overall. I liked the ideas underpinning the entire book. I did, however, find it rather slow – the story tracks every little thing that Thomas does, and while that’s not a bad thing, I think it’s important to know that going in to the story. This is about his journey to self-realisation and an understanding of what is actually happening around him in his world. There are strange people, strange events, and it’s easy to be utterly drawn into this world.
Overall I rated Divided Kingdom 3 out of 5 stars.