“I could tell you were a reader when I first saw you,” David said. “You have that dreamy look in your eye, like you’re wishing yourself onto a page.” He took my chin in his hands and looked deeply into my eyes. Even in the dazzling afternoon light, his eyes were bluer than any lantern. “It’s easy to see in the way you hesitate before answering my questions, before asking any of your own. You’re not used to talking to us flesh-and-blood types.”
Bethany Hagen is one of the local (or semi local- she’s based out of Kansas City, which is about three hours from here) authors that I got to chat briefly with a couple of weekends ago at Librarycon hosted by our local library. My husband got me her first book and I devoured it in less than three days.
Madeline Landry is a seventeen year old heiress living in a fragmented future United States ruled by the lavish gentry. Set in the 2300s, racial differences have been abolished and replaced by three systems: the Gentry who rule, the middle/working class who really aren’t any different than nowadays, and the Rootless- a group of people who are given the bare necessities to live and sentenced to work with the dangerous nuclear batteries that power their society as a punishment for butting heads with the rich upper class hundreds of years before. The new world order as it stands was founded by Jacob Landry and the duty of running the Landry estate and ruling the gentry class will fall to Madeline, leaving her no room to decide her future outside of her daydreaming about what could be.
After a vicious attack on one of her peers that is blindly blamed on the Rootless, the lowest of the low, Madeline finds herself stepping out of her lavish surroundings to discover the truth that hides behind pretty faces and expensive dinner parties. But she quickly discovers that truths hidden for as long as these have been are not quickly uncovered and she enlists the help of arrogantly confident David Dana, who enchants her with his quick wit and confuses her with his quickly changing moods. Together, they uncover truths that are heartbreaking and conflicting and Madeline must decide what to do with her newfound knowledge. Will she, too, bury the knowledge she gleans or will she take a stand for what she knows to be right-possibly at the risk of her life as she knows it?
I enjoyed reading this novel and I certainly am interested in seeing how the story concludes in the next one. Was it a story plot that has been done before? Absolutely. Rich, upper-class damsel finds her heartstrings tugged by the struggles of the lower class and the oppression it faces is nothing new. But Landry Park offered enough new elements to make the story line its own. Was the ending of this book predictable? Definitely. I wasn’t even a third of the way in when I figured out what was going to happen, but that didn’t make it any less fun to read my way to the conclusion. Was Madeline Landry a likable character? In my personal opinion, no! That actually intrigued me in a pleasant way, though! She had real human flaws and real human logic written into her character in a way that was refreshing. She daydreamed about David for a good share of the book, like a normal seventeen year old girl. She didn’t always make the “right” decision, and often made the one that benefited her most, like a normal seventeen year old girl. I feel like so often nowadays, we get these super strong female characters in books that are sixteen and seventeen years old and are out kicking butt and sacrificing themselves. This is great! This shows our daughters and girls in our lives that it can be done and that we are made of awesome! However, I feel like it’s just as important to show that you don’t always make the right choice. Sometimes you slip up, and that being flawed in this way is completely human nature and doesn’t make us any less worthy of being loved or valued.
Overall, I enjoyed this book and felt like it was a nice read and easy to get through. I would recommend it to most teen readers and any adult readers who also enjoy YA. It has a good dystopian world meets Downton Abbey theme running through it. It’s pretty clean in terms of language and relationships.