Thursday, July 31, 2014

Review: Landry Park by Bethany Hagen

Landry ParkTitle:  Landry Park
Author: Bethany Hagen

Publisher: Dial
Publishing Date: February 2, 2014   
Pages: 374
Genre:  YA Dystopian

Series: Landry Park #1
Source: Audio

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.

This was a book I wanted to read but really didn't know what to expect. Dystopian- check, cool cover- check, intresting synopsis- check. So I picked up the audio and gave it go to see where it would take me. I really really enjoyed this book. There are few times in todays reading world where I find a book that really stands out in the genre as original. This one had that for me. It was a dystopian, it had all the main elements, but the actual story and setting stood out for me. So did the characters.

Madeline lives in a world divided by society and class. Not much changed there. The lower class repressed and the upper class living it up. Again nothing new. However in this story more is at stake when you are part of the lower class, the way you live is completely controlled by the upper class. Madeline is a part of that upper class and though she doesn't like to get into the grit of lower class living, she loves her family and her estate. She has bigger dreams, she wants to go to school, to learn, but her father wants her trained to run the household. The story begins with Madeline finding a way to win her fathers approval for school. The deeper the story goes the messier things get and Madeline finds her pretty good world sucks. 

It's a dystopian. There are certian elements maintained to ensure that the story is a dypstopian, but it doesn't read so much as so. It reads elegant and full of mystery and intrique. The story is told in the future but it feels like the past. There is much of a historical feel. That was one of the things that I loved about this book. I felt I was in an alternate past and really happy that it wasn't a past part of my world, because it sucked. The author did a wonderful job creating the setting and the tone of this book and that's what drew me into this book the most. 

The story was pretty unique for a dystopian. Those are rare these days since the market is flooded with dystopians. There are a handfuls of really good ones and I think this one made my list of loved dystopians. What I found refreshing about this dystopian was that it wasn't all doom and gloom. The ones that had it good were pretty much in the dark and going through their lives all smiles. This makes sense in a dystopian world, we just don't see this much in the stories. We see the gloom and doom end of the story not the happily blind end. What I would have liked to know more of was how the world became what it was. There wasn't really much background and I am not one that likes to read a book that has gone overboard on the details, but bit more than some is a good start.

I liked the main character, she wasn't hard to like. I didn't have any moments of yelling at her, hoping she would wise up, or sadness for her. She was very likable. I do wish she would have been a bit more emotionally unsound. I felt at times she was a bit too strong and to grounded. She was a very sweet and honorable character. She cared about everyone and made sure not to step on toes but also did what she had to when it came to standing up for herself. Likable yes, amazing in some ways but not so much in others. She could use some work but still very likable. 

I wasn't completely vested in the romance either. The story to me was more about Madeline and her journey from spoiled (but still sweet) girl to a girl who wants to make a difference. So the romance was really background for me. I felt there wasn't much meat to the romance and it could have been done a bit better, but like I said it didn't matter, it didn't take away from the story. 

So what won me over with this book. The story, the setting, the tone. This is highly irregular of me. Generally characters win me over, but this time it was definitely the story and what came with it. 

Loved it, can't wait for more!

Bethany Hagen

I'm a born and bred Kansas Citian, meaning I can tolerate jazz for brief amounts of time and I'm offended by dry rub barbecue. I grew up reading Charlotte Bronte, Jane Austen, and all things King Arthur. When I’m not working at the library or running around with the kids and the husband, I’m writing or thinking about writing.

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