Author: Bethany Hagen
Rating: ★★★★ 1/2
Synopsis: 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.
Huge thank you to Dial Books for Young Readers/Razorbill Canada for this advance reader’s copy.
This book. I don’t even know where to begin. I didn’t even have it on my radar until it showed up in my mailbox. It’s one of those books where the blurb in some ways does it no favours, making it out to be something you may have read or encountered before.
Landry Park is pretty damn fabulous and Hagen is surprisingly masterful in how she handles the development of her characters. Madeline is a heroine who gets crap done and she easy to have misconceptions about at the beginning of the story, yet her transformation as the narrative moves is phenomenally done. All the characters have a ton of depth, they are likable, their motives have a strong meaning, this book is such a page-turner! You want to keep going, and the book wants, no, demands your attention in such a way that most dystopian titles just don’t do (at least for me).
The issues of classism are very apparent in Landry Park and the way it is handled is pretty awesome. In some ways, we’ve seen the Rootless is countless other dystopian novels, but they are at times, a difficult group to sympathize with. However, as the novel unfolds you see how Madeline, David and Jude all change their tunes. The world Hagen presents is dark, but it’s also a regency novel with modern twists and turns. I think the best way to approach this book is to treat it like a dystopian version ofNorth and the South, though I can see why comparisons toDownton Abbey are made.
And then the ending… holy tension driven, Batman! I knew as soon as I hit the last fifty pages that I was going to barrel through to the end. This is one of those novels that just sucks you in, puts in debutante claws into you, and demands your attention, and I really loved the book for it. The elitism, the expectation, the drama, it’s all there and its done so well. You really feel for the characters in this story, you want to see them grow, and heck, I even liked the romance, which I don’t say too often about YA dystopian novels. Madeline is a great heroine, and I found myself cheering for her from start to finish.
Though I will say, damn Jude needs more love.
But in all seriousness, Landry Park is a fantastic debut and it has something for every reader. The world feels so believable and raw, the writing is gorgeous, the characters are full of surprise and depth. This book may have some familiar tones to it, but all in all, Landry Park is one debutante ball you may want to attend.