Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Review: Landry Park

LANDRY PARK
Landry Park #1
Bethany Hagen
Young Adult/Dystopian
384 pages
Dial
Available February 4th
Source: ARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
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.

MY THOUGHTS
Landry Park is a story that seamlessly combines the progress of the future with the pageantry of the past, creating a glittering yet horrifying world where societal status is the sole determining factor of human worth. It's so very easy for us as readers to cast judgment on the gentry as a whole, calling them monsters and despicable excuses for human beings for the way they ignore the suffering of the Rootless, but yet we do so from the comfort of our homes, luxuriating in amenities we know so many people in our own world don't have access to or can't afford. Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of Ms. Hagen's darkly jeweled society is the way it highlights the human ability to rationalize, the gentry so superiorly claiming the life their ancestors have built for them is one better and brighter than it was previously, when in fact the move has been a lateral one rather than an upward one, forward progress made on the broken backs of society's dispensable just as it had been before.

While the moral and ethical questions the battle between the gentry and the Rootless raises as we read are fascinating, where this book falters a bit is with the characters themselves. Madeline is a young woman we want desperately to like, someone who seems to disagree with her father in many of his political views and his treatment of the Rootless, but whenever a moment arises to put her thoughts into action, she does so in the most timid way possible, allowing her father, David and anyone else to run roughshod over her. She's like an infant dragon for majority of the book, coughing and sputtering smoke without ever learning how to breathe fire, always saying she wants to get to the bottom of certain things but giving up quickly and easily when answers don't immediately present themselves. She does finally take a stand at the end, leaving us hoping the Madeline we'll find in the next installment will be in full possession of her teeth, claws and that ever-elusive fire.

The romance leaves a bit to be desired mainly because David proves to be as much of a challenge as Madeline, leaving us constantly wondering what either of them sees in the other. In the beginning, he repeatedly refers to himself as charming, something often confirmed by Madeline when she finds she can't stop thinking about him, but sadly that charm gets lost in translation for us as readers, David coming across simply as condescending and somewhat incapable of picking a single mood and sticking with it. He's seemingly interested in Madeline one minute only to throw her family name and all that it means in her face the next, something that might have created an intriguing antagonistic element to their relationship save for Madeline's aforementioned timidity. Her quiet nature causes her to shrink back when we want nothing more than for her to leap forward and give him a much deserved what-for, finding ourselves a touch frustrated when instead she quickly gets past her confusion over David's less-than attractive moments the very next time she sees him.

Overall, the picture painted by Ms. Hagen is beautifully grotesque, forcing into sharp relief just how easily chaos results from order when gripped tight in an iron fist, and revealing to us in detail just how much blood decorates the walls of the esteemed Landry Park. Though the characters do cause us to stumble at times and the plot itself is more slow and steady than action-packed, we still can't help but be curious about what's to come for Madeline, David and everyone else after the dust of violence finally begins to settle.

Rating: 3.5/5
 

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This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.

42 comments:

  1. Hm .. not sure about this one. Dystopians are not my favorite genre anyways so I think I'll pass on this one...

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    1. I just wanted a little more backbone from Madeline I guess. She let David say whatever he wanted to her and never defended herself.

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  2. I am so excited for this one! The romance doesn't sound so great, but the plot sounds very intriguing. Amazing review :)

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    1. I found the whole society fascinating Montana! I wish the characters had been a little stronger for me, but I very much enjoyed the world and the moral questions raised.

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  3. Would I just be annoyed by him..hm, could be

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    1. He could be frustrating at times for sure:)

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  4. That's funny - when I saw the title 'Landry Park' I totally assumed this was historical. It doesn't sound like a dystopian title at all. Maybe just me. I hadn't heard of this one before your review and I think it may just be a little romance-lite for me. I like LOTS of romance! :)

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    1. It's an historical society despite being in the future. Set up like Victorian England in a lot of ways. You know I like lots of romance too Leanna, so I wanted more from this one for sure!

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  5. The characters are always either the strongest or weakest part of any story for me, so to hear that they falter puts warning bells in my head. I think I'll be better off waiting to see how this series unfolds before picking it up although I love the premises. Wonderful review, Jenny!

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    1. Same for me Keertana! I liked Madeline overall, I just wanted her to stand up for herself a bit more and stick to her guns. Perhaps with the way things ended she'll be more likely to do so in the next book!

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  6. I was excited for this book, but I have to say that I'm no longer looking forward to it as much as before. The characters don't sound like people I would want to root for. Madeline seems like she would be a bit frustrating and so does David. At least, the plot line is interesting.
    Great honest review, Jenny!

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    1. I had hoped for more from Madeline and David. David's hot and cold act wouldn't have bothered me so much if Madeline had called him on it, but she would get upset and then when she actually saw him again, say nothing. I'm hoping things change a bit in the sequel:)

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  7. I've heard a bunch of mixed reviews for this one, and I'll admit my excitement has waned a bit in wake of those reviews. However, I do still like the intriguing premise, and despite the flaws in the characters, I still hope to try this one...someday. Great honest review, as usual, Jenny :)

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    1. The world was truly fascinating and horrifying and I was captivated. The characters were just a touch disappointing for me.

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  8. This one is a debut that I have been looking forward to, but I'm not sure about this now. From what you said, it doesn't sound like what I thought it was going to be and instead more of a dystopian. Hmm. Plus, it's light on the romance? That's a bummer. I am still curious about it though. Thanks for the honest review, Jenny!

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    1. It's not overly light on the romance, it's a prominent aspect for sure, it was just a romance of the hot and cold variety which can be sometimes frustrating.

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  9. This probably isn't for me but I do think it is interesting. I have to be in love with the characters for this type of book to work for me. The world building seems to be there though and that is awesome!

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    1. I was intrigued and horrified by the world in equal measure, I thought that aspect was really well done!

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  10. Oooh. Nothing frustrates me more than characters who don't act the way we're told they act. (Like the time I read a book whose main character was one of the best fighters ever, and then only fought once or twice in the entire book.)

    The world sounds really intriguing, though.

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    1. Exactly! She had sympathetic leanings toward the Rootless, but when it came time to put her thoughts to action, she would only go halfway.

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  11. Humans really do have the ability to rationalize, don't we? We can explain away the most horrible things. Madeline sounds like an interesting character -- even though she's like a baby dragon (your description made me smile! Loved it!).

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    1. Definitely. It was something I found particularly interesting in this book because I would be horrified at the treatment of the Rootless and then realize we have equally awful things happening in our own world and it's out of sight out of mind for me day to day. Which is terrible.

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  12. I'm sorry you didn't love this one as much as I did. Yes, the romance left me frustrated at times, but overall, I still adored this book to pieces. I honestly don't know why because I agree with all the points you made about its faults, but something about it just grabbed me and wouldn't let go!

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    1. I'm so glad you loved it Hannah! I wanted to love it and there were pieces of it I thought were really brilliant, I just struggled with Madeline and David at times.

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  13. I always love how well worded and thought out your reviews are Jenny and in this case, insightful!

    Sad the romance isn't better (the romance junkie in me can't help it, I like my romances to be strong ones!).

    Wonderful review!!

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    1. Thanks so much Ali! You and I are romance junkies together for sure:) I wanted more from this one, but I did enjoy the story overall.

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  14. This sounds intriguing, Jenny! It sounds like it touches on some more serious subjects, too, which makes me that much more excited to read it! And as long as the romance doesn't get in the way of the story, I'm definitely willing to give this one a go after reading your review! Great job, girl! Thanks for sharing your thoughts :)

    Evie @Bookish

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    1. I'd be interested to see what you thought of this one Evie! There were some definite pros and cons for me, but it was a solid read for the most part. I'm intrigued enough to read book 2 for sure:)

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  15. Madeline would drive me crazy and I would keep hoping she would grow a spine. I do like how she presents the haves with the have nots though. Overall, I don't think this one is for me. I'm going to take a pass on it.

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  16. This world does sound fascinating, I always love when dystopian worlds hold up a lens to human behavior and current societal ills we'd rather not see. I might read this for that alone. It's a shame the relationship between Madeline and David is lacking. It sounds like if Madeline had more of a backbone that hot cold dynamic would have worked better. I think I'm still going to give this one a try for the worldbuilding. Lovely balanced review!

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  17. I think I would love the world building, but the characters and the romance, not so much. I am not fond of females who don't stand up for themselves and so Madeline and I would not get along. Still I am curious about the thought provoking themes.

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  18. The world-building in LANDRY PARK sounds like something I would really enjoy. It sounds fascinating (the moral and ethical questions) you mention in regards to the battle going on between the gentry and the Rootless. I'm not so sure about the characters and romance though. I don't mind a weaker cast female, if she rises to the occasion by the end of the story. Although I like strong willed heroines the best, and swoony romance. Wonderful review, your lprose makes me drool! :)

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  19. The world sounds fascinating and I'm very curious about it. The characters and the romance sound very challenging though and the book could end up being a DNF because I'm not sure I'd have enough patience for them.

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  20. I don't think I could deal with a character who lets everyone stomp all over her, no matter how young she may be. It's kind of disappointing, especially since the book itself raises some difficult moral questions, which I always appreciate.
    Frankly, I expected so much more from this, probably because of that simple, yet gorgeous cover. I just never learn.

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  21. I can see me being frustrated with her wanting her to give him a what-for! Sometimes that really bothers me, but sometimes it just makes sense for the character. Oh the world sounds so dark I'll have to make sure I don't read a dark book before or after. I have to break up those things. :D

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  22. I'm not the biggest fan of dystopia lately, but I am quite excited for this one. The Selection similarities aside, because no one's here for that. I love how dark the world sounds, though. Definitely going to check this out at some point!

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  23. The heroine doesn't sound very strong and I just dnfed a book because of the same reasons (well in my case, the girl was a bit annoying too), so Minot sure if this would be the book for me Jenny. But it's good to know that then world building was great. Thanks for the amazing review :)

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  24. I'm going to skip this one. I don't like Maddy. She already makes me want to pull my hair out! Great review to show us what reading the book was like!

    Heather

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  25. While I love dystopian and can love without a romance this one sounds like it is a major disappointment and I am not sire about the characters. Lovely review Jenny, since you and I so often agree I will pass on this one.

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  26. I desperately need to like a character to fully enjoy the book, and Madeline sounds like the type to do more harm than good for my enjoyment. I know what you mean about being told that the guy is charming, yet we don't get to see that. I hate when characters are always described as one way, like how funny or witty they are, yet their personality is like a wet mop. Wonderful review, Jenny, but I don't know about this book.

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  27. Ever since I have seen this book I've been wanting to read it. This sounds great.

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  28. I was really excited to see your review of this book because I haven't seen anyone else talking about it, though it's been on my radar. Penguin is really weird about how they give out books. I'm not sure anyone else who even has this one. Anyway, I'm sad to see you didn't enjoy it, but I think this heroine's meekness and the love interest situation would bug me as well. We often think similarly about such things, so I'm sad about that. It sounds like the moral dilemma is interesting, and there's no triangle, right? I saw somewhere this was a cross between Downton Abby and The Selection, and I'm still not sure at all what that means. This is a future world, right? The Selection makes me immediately think of the Bachelor, so how does that fit with this? I'm still quite confused. If this is a series, I think I'll hold off until future books to decide whether to invest.

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