Friday, May 30, 2014

Review - Landry Park by Bethany Hagen

     Landry Park

Genre: Dystopian/Fantasy/Historical Fiction 
Published: February 2014
Hardcover - 374 pgs 

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.

Landry Park caught my eye because of the stunning cover. I hadn't heard much about this book when I picked it up at the library on my most recent trek. As I am addicted to Downton Abbey, I was very interested to see how the author created an aristocracy with Victorian-age courtship and traditions in a futuristic dystopian world.

Overall, I think the class system goes over really well. Because of the almost Victorian-age class system, I understand the Downton Abbey comparisons. However, I wouldn’t let it put you off if you dislike Downton. These are two totally different types of stories. I haven’t read The Selection Series so I can’t vouch for that comparison. There is a great dystopian thread to this story that was different than most dystopians I’ve read. If you are like me and don’t get hooked on dystopian stories very often, you might appreciate the historical elements to the book. I really like the balance between dystopian, historical fiction and romantic elements. The three combined make a really interesting and unique story that I am excited for more of.
Within the story the reader gets a thorough introduction to the world which never felt like serious info dumping to me. There are moments where I felt like it lacked some depth. If this is going to be just two books (based on Goodreads) I think there should have been a larger overview of the entire world rather than mostly one city. At this point to finish up this entire dystopian storyline, where the revolution hasn't really properly started, in a second book seems like a momentous task. I’ll be interested to see how many books the author actually plans to write.

I really like Madeline as a main character. She reminds me a lot of myself. She wants to read and learn and knows there are problems. She is awkward, a little shy, also naive and young but it makes sense for her situation. Hagen is taking a different sort of path than most dystopians. Madeline is privileged and comes from the upper class of the upper class, but she realizes something wrong with the society she lives in. Her struggle is what she will give up rather than what will she gain.

What I didn’t like was Madeline’s lack of growth. I think she could be/will eventually be a great heroine for this story. In this book though, I was disappointed in how long it took her step up. Because Madeline is the main character and she is in this position of power as a Landry, I wanted and expected more from her. I’m hoping in the next book she will find her voice to participate in (or lead?) the movement.
I’m very interested in continuing this series and cannot wait for the next book.
Rating ⅘

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