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Thursday, September 24, 2015

Jubilee Manor by Bethany Hagen

Release Date: August 11, 2015
Publisher: Dial Books
Pages: 400
Source: Copy provided by publisher for review
The thrilling conclusion to Landry Park is full of love, betrayal, and murder--perfect for fans of Divergent, The Selection, and Pride and Prejudice.  
In Landry Park, Madeline turned her back on her elite family, friends, and estate to help the Rootless. Now, in Jubilee Manor, she struggles to bring the Gentry and the Rootless together. But when Gentry heirs—Madeline’s old friends—are murdered, even she begins to think a Rootless is behind it, putting her at odds with the boy she loves and the very people she is trying to lead. If she can’t figure out who is killing her friends and bring them to justice, a violent war will erupt and even more will die—and Madeline’s name, her estate, and all the bonds she’s forged won’t make any difference.

I have rather mixed feelings on this novel--the dystopian world is built with ample detail, the prose is good, and the idea is interesting, but I found myself as not emotionally invested in the characters as I thought I would be and thought the intensity of the novel did not really build.

Bethany Hagen paints a dystopian future that is overflowing for some and bleak for the rest.  The divide between the haves and the have-nots is huge and Madeline's efforts to reconcile the two groups are exacerbated when several gentry teens are murdered.  With such an exciting premise and so much going on, I had expected the pace to be a tad faster.  I wouldn't say the novel dragged, but there were several points where not much was going on.  The attention on the two main plot points--peace between the groups and solving the murders--did not feel balanced, but leaned more towards the efforts to broker peace between the gentry and the Rootless.  

While I understand that trying to establish a treaty between two factions that have existed for so long and inspired such hostile feelings is no easy feat, I would have liked to see more attention given to solving the mystery of the murders.  It felt like solving them (or at least the effort put into it) was put on the back-burner until a sudden burst of activity and drive to solve it at the very end of the novel.  Undoubtedly the end of a novel is where the big climax and reveal is and should be, but I felt as if the suspense in Jubilee Manor did not really build very much.  It seemed to have spiked during the first third of the novel then plateaued, the murders hanging like an ominous cloud over the characters, until the big push at the end to solve them.  The urgency of the gentry and Rootless situation was built up, in my opinion, better than that of the murder mystery.

Pacing aside, I must say I thought the character development, especially in Madeline, was good!  Miss Landry may have her flaws, but I'm glad she grew as this series progressed and gained some perspective.  The latter made her a stronger character and made made her grow on me.  There was a part in the novel where she remarked that there is some beauty in certain aspects of the gentry lifestyle but also acknowledged the sheer opulence of it.  Her being able to recognize both and see things in not just a black-and-white fashion made me appreciate her more as a character.

I know quite a few readers have been swooning over Madeline and David's romance but I felt that it was not that exciting.  More than anything, the pair seemed to stare into each other's eyes, share a few kisses and tell each other how much they loved each other.  A lot of their romance in this book seemed to be just statements of the fact and multiple mentions of how good David's lean figure looked by Madeline.  Given what they've been through together I would have expected her to extol more of his other virtues, not just his trim hips!  An old phrase I heard in many English classes, "show, don't tell," came to mind when I was reading Jubilee Manor; I felt that perhaps a few more subtle and varied details about the moments between the two would have made the romance seem much more natural and swoon-worthy to me.  

Although I had a few qualms about certain aspects of the novel, I enjoyed the overall writing style of the author.  It was fluid and graceful, just as I imagine Madeline would be in one of her gowns!  I feel that the author, Bethany Hagen, painted an accurate picture of how our society would act if the world and social classes of her novels were real.  The sense of entitlement many of the wealthy and privileged feel and the parties and actions they take in the novel reflects the actions and sentiments of more than just a few of the wealthy public figures of our own world.  Overall, I think fans of Landry Park will enjoy Jubilee Manor and appreciate Madeline's growth and how neatly things are tied up in the conclusion.

Overall: 3.5 out of 5
Plot: 3.75 stars
Characters: 3 stars
Writing: 4 stars
Cover: 4 stars 

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Series I Like

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis Divergent by Veronica Roth Firelight by Sophie Jordon Halo by Alexandra Adornetto Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

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