Landry Park (Landry Park #1)
Author: Bethany Hagen
Rating: 5 stars
Source: Changing Hands Bookstore
Summary: In a fragmented future United States ruled by the lavish gentry, seventeen-year-old Madeline Landry dreams of going to the university. Unfortunately, gentry decorum and her domineering father won't allow that. Madeline must marry, like a good Landry woman, and run the family estate. But her world is turned upside down when she discovers the devastating consequences her lifestyle is having on those less fortunate. As Madeline begins to question everything she has ever learned, she finds herself increasingly drawn to handsome, beguiling David Dana. Soon, rumors of war and rebellion start to spread, and Madeline finds herself and David at the center of it all. Ultimately, she must make a choice between duty - her family and the estate she loves dearly - and desire.
Where to start for such an outstanding debut? I'll put down my thoughts as they come.
Madeline Landry is a strong individual who feels torn between her duties as the Landry heir, and as the story progresses, about what's morally right in her dystopian world. Her dystopian but Victorian-esque era world. How unique is that? Bethany Hagen decided to mash up those two popular genres and what happens is a successfully creative and fresh story. The only similar book I can think of is Diana Peterfreund's For Darkness Shows the Stars. The caste system is slightly relatable, and both are technically dystopian since it's the after-effects of some huge world apocalyptic event. Oh, and I can now say both are excellent books.
The Victorian-dystopian world in Landry Park: The United States have been half taken over by the East, and in the history books, all the foreign oil was cut off, leading to this new adaptive lifestyle. The history is explained clearly without being boring. Race is now not an issue, instead the caste system is for the Uprisen rich supported-the-changing-world (gentry) and the working class people not given the right opportunities in life (Rootless.) It makes sense when you read it.
What stood out about Madeline, to me, was that it wasn't the classic: she meets someone from the other side and her loyalties change. (see Pocahontas/Avatar) That's Madeline's problem. She's been brought up to believe a certain history of events, why the lower class "Rootless" are the people dying of radiation poisoning while her gentry lifestyle turn a blind eye. Another thing I liked, Madeline is sure of what she wants, which is education; she does not want to be bred. There is romance- it isn't overpowering, but it's an essential part of the story all the same. Daniel Dana's clever conversations with Madeline show their chemistry well, and they have a friendship too.
For a debut novel, the writing is right away likable, and even though I was turned off by the "Downton Abbey meets The Selection" since I am not a fan of either, I read the author's bio, "...grew up reading Austen and Brontë and all things King Arthur" and changed my mind right away.
And let's take one last moment for some cover love. I'll admit that is what made me pick it up. Vibrant blue glow like the so-famous lanterns in the story, soft matte finish…at the very least, go find it in a bookstore and run your hand along the spine. Maybe smell it a little...
Right! I can't wait for the next book; a lot of mysteries were revealed toward the end and I barely had enough time to reconfigure all my opinions of the three-dimensional supporting characters before it ended. People are not as they seem.
Landry Park is one dystopian debut you do not want to miss this spring.