By Bethany Hagen. Release date: February 4th 2014 (tomorrow!)
Madeline Landry lives in the luxury of the antique Landry estate with her mother and father. They are among the few elite living in a post-war Jane Austen-romance-novel-styled society. Their opulent lifestyles are supported by a large common lower class. Below the lower class are the Rootless, the poorest of the poor stuck with the worst jobs: handling spent radioactive charges used for generating electricity. There's a lot of responsibility on Madeline's shoulders to step up to the role of the next of her line, the most powerful family in the United States. As Madeline receives more pressure from her father to follow family responsibility, she learns more about the Rootless than she ever knew before.
The upper class in this book is literally modeled after a Jane Austen novel. Inexplicably, in post-war society, they reverted to the 1700's. They drink tea, go to parties, have balls, engage in courtship, and act like proper ladies and gentlemen. They even ride horse-drawn sleighs in winter. While this adds some flavor to the book, it does not work out very well. The gender imbalance is constantly at odds with the gender-equal society described in the prologue. Furthermore, there is not enough world-building to describe why they are stuck in the 1700's or explain the complicated economics of the country. While town-sized economics are explained, there is not enough description of state-wide or country-wide economics, leaving me wondering how there is a working feudalistic economy.
Overall I am disappointed with Madeline's actions and just annoyed with her love issues (which are a main part of the book). Perhaps what bothers me the most is that Madeline is a weak
character. She is constantly torn between duty and what she desires,
crushed under her father's controlling grip. At every turn others get
the best of her, forcing her into things she doesn't want. She actually never does anything dramatic for the cause of good in her own
volition, except when she must act to save a life. Even then, she nearly
buckles under the shame of acting out of turn. She remains attached to her desires and fears, not
really growing as a person. The end of the book precipitates a series of events (mostly without her help) that conveniently end most of her problems for her and solves her romantic love triangle for the better. Too perfect. That Madeline could make no progress in any of
her tasks by herself frustrated me; that she was controlled; that she
was ineffective; that she let opportunities
slide; that half the plot was her pining after a forbidden love: Ugh.
Is this book a Jane Austen romance or a futuristic sci-fi dystopian? It's both, but it shouldn't be. While this book is modeled to be sci-fi, it's more of a romance with a sci-fi background.There were chances to comment on societal issues that were missed. The sci-fi side lacked world-building and attention. The Jane Austen part clashes with the rest of the book. With all this, I think even the best writers would have difficulty. Overall I kinda enjoyed reading it, but all the issues annoyed me the whole way through. I rate this book a 2. You may end up liking the story, but there are better romances and better futuristic distopias out there.