Told in three alternating perspectives, The Electric Kingdom takes place in a dystopian world where human civilization has been nearly wiped out by a Fly-Flu. Three individuals - Nico, an 18-year-old girl with her dog on a quest from her father; Kit, a young artist who is just trying to get by after the death of his mother; and the cryptic Deliverer, who seems to live Life after Life in the hope of changing the future - find their paths intertwined on their journey to find light in a world gone dark.
I was very confused throughout a large portion of this book, because the answers to questions are only provided exactly when the author wants you to know them. He strategically places stories you're led to believe don't matter sprinkled throughout each of the three points of view, until one line is able to connect those stories to present day events so things make sense. It threw me for a loop so many times, but looking back I am very impressed with how Arnold was able to craft this story. I also noted how Kit and Nico's perspectives are written in 3rd person point of view, but when we read chapters from the Deliverer, their sections are directed specifically at us as the reader (1st person point of view) - they act as an omnicient narrator who knows how this story is going to play out, and I suppose in a way that's extremely accurate given to them reliving this life countless times in an attempt to make things right. I went back and forth on their identity multiple times, and appreciated how you are given clues as to who the Deliverer is, but it isn't overly obvious.
Of our three main perspectives, I think Kit had to be my favorite - he's the youngest and is always being underestimated by everyone else in the group, but he is smart and capable and understands how his actions are going to have consequences. His knowledge learned from his Dakota and from reading the books in his library truly highlights how he doesn't really know a life before the Flies hit, and his tidbits that he shares throughout the journey both make the reader laugh and acknowledge that all of these characters are outsiders to how society used to operate before devastation hit. But even at the end of the day, these characters find each other, and together they navigate through the bleakest of places, with only their hope as their guide.
Am I still confused about the ending and have more questions than I would like? Yes. Am I still reeling from the circumstances surrounding one particular character? Yep. Does this still heighten my fears while in the middle of a global pandemic? Of course. But will this prevent me from picking this book up again? Absolutely not, because I believe this is a novel that you will gain so much more from upon a reread, because you won't be so busy trying to fit all the puzzle pieces together. The puzzle is complete, so now you can enjoy the journey that David Arnold takes you on to follow these interlocking characters throughout the darkest days of humanity. I, for one, will be taking notes of what I missed. I'm interested to see how others will fare on this post-apocalyptic story. *Thank you to BookishFirst and the publisher, Viking Books, for the copy, all thoughts and opinions are my own.*