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Khanh the Killjoy

Debutante fail

Landry Park - Bethany Hagen
“How long do you think you can live like this? How long can you dance and twirl in pretty dresses knowing that people are starving and dying?”
“I guess I try not to think about it,” I said in a small voice.

This book was not terrible, but the main character is frilly, the plot itself is fluffy, and the overall attitude of the book feels contrived and insincere.

It's like...Ivanka Trump. Daughter of millionaire/billionaire (depending on how the market is performing) Donald Trump. A nice enough woman, for sure, but it doesn't feel completely sincere when she talks about caring about the underprivileged, poor classes who can barely put food on their plate. This book is inoffensive, but the underlying plot of a wealthy debutante caring about the destitute lower class feels extremely artificial and completely secondary to the emotional flutterings of Madeleine's heart.

The romance...I don't even know how to describe it. It's not a love triangle so much as it is a love...um. Square? Dodecahedron?

I don't know if there is a geometric shape adequate for describing the mess of a romance within this book. Let's just say B likes A, E likes A, F likes A, but B is dating C. C is dating B, but might be involved with X. I can probably draw a shape out of that entire mess of a relationship, but it's close to midnight, and I can't be fucked to think mathematically.

Fucking achy breaky heart, man.

The Summary: In a nutshell, it is the story of a poor-little-rich-girl in the dystopian United States, circa 2300 A.D., who just wants to have her cake and eat it, too.

Madeline Landry is the 1%.

She is the heir to her family, one of the gentry, one of the wealthiest in what's left of the United States after the war. Others lead a life of abject poverty, Madeleine spends her days reading, learning, attending balls, tea parties, and preparing for her debut in society, after which she will find a rich husband and take over the Landry family business. It will be a life of gentle luxury.

She doesn't want it. Madeleine wants to go to university, a pathway that's not open to her because she is the sole heir to her family. Her is a life of duty and privilege, as her father points out to her.

“Do you not see that you will be the mistress of this house and of your marriage? That whoever you marry will be eternally grateful to you for your condescension in letting him live in your house? You will join the ranks of the Uprisen, Madeline, and your children will bear the Landry look, not that of your husband’s. I am not condemning you to a life of vassalage, but a life of leadership."

Madeleine doesn't see it that way, but she doesn't have much of a choice.

At a ball, Madeleine's friend Cara is attacked in a garden, she accuses a Rootless man, the lowest caste in society, of attacking her. The Rootless have always been persecuted in the new United States, and this has increased further scrunity upon them.

At the same ball, Madeleine meets David Dana. A wealthy young heir from a prestigious family, he is seen as a prized catch for Madeleine. David and Madeleine instantly connect. Despite her best intentions, Madeleine finds herself falling for him.

Whatever wall I had been holding against him fell away, but I steeled myself against that smile, against that warm hand, against the flight of fancy on the velvet grass. I refused to be the kind of star-crossed girl who falls in love with the eager knight.
But then I found myself smiling back.

David, however, is not quite so pure with his intentions towards her.

One day, Madeleine finds herself stalking following David as he slinks off somewhere in disguise. It turns out that David is not the privileged, uncaring boy he originally seemed.

The Rootless are tired of being powerless, they want a rebellion. Amidst her balls and tea parties, Madeleine finds herself involved with their cause.



The Plot: Completely underwhelming. The main story got lost between all the society gossip

“I have heard they are combining his going-away ball with Cara’s debut.” The bitterness in her voice was unmistakable.
“Maybe he’s just taken pity on her because her prospects are slimmer since her attack,” Father suggested.
“Oh, I do not think her prospects are dimmed at all,” my great-aunt Lacey said in a chirping voice as she used silver tongs to load more toast on her plate.

Not to mention all the afternoon teas. The dinner parties. The balls. All the extravagances of the upper crust.

The dessert table was crowned with a giant spun sugar swan, sitting serenely in a lake of taro ice cream, kept cold and solid by a hidden nuclear-powered freezer underneath the tablecloth. Waiters circled the room with aperitifs and hors d’oeuvres. A few hours from now, their trays would be loaded with cigars, cigarettes, and sake.

Madeleine's involvement in this "resistance," seems forced, and the resistance plot seems completely secondary to the twists within Madeleine's heart.

The Setting: Piss poor. Incredibly indredulous.

1. The War With China - WHAT? This book feeds on our currentfear that Big Bad China is going to invade us, and it did so in a manner that's just vague as all fuck. China attacked the US. The end. That's pretty much it. There are no details. War with China, war among ourselves, some vague-ass shit about shortage of resources and some recycled old tripe about OH FLOODING IN THE COASTAL REGIONS and OH SHIT CLIMATE CHANGE THE ICE AGE IS ALMOST HERE OH MOTHER OF GOD JESUS CHRIST IN HEAVEN SAVE US ALL.

That's it. Nothing resembling verisimilitude.

2. DEBUTANTES AND DRESSES, OH MY! I can't really say I understand this dystopian world. It is around the year 2300, 200 years ago, there was a big war in which China and its allies attacked the United States. Supposedly, the boundaries between the rich and the poor were erased

The rich and the poor temporarily forgot their fight with each other and united to defend themselves.

...Leaving...an even bigger delineation between classes? WHAT?

The boundaries of race and gender and religion fell away as class became the most important delineator in society.

I can't say I completely understand how the fuck this works, mainly because it's the United States. One of the American ideal is the rejection of a rigid class structure, that of nobility, that of lords and ladies and kinds, that's one of the reason why we rejected England's class structure. SO WHY THE FUCK DID WE GO BACK TO IT?!

It's the fucking future, we have a shortage in resource, and all of a sudden, we have the Gentry. A group of more or less, ultra-rich nobility who have the time and resources to devote to having debutante balls for their sons and daughters. They do absolutely nothing to maintain that wealth, none of the people in the book have actual jobs. They rely solely on the labor of the lower classes, specifically The Rootless.

3. Nuclear WHAT?: This world of the future rely on nuclear technology. I can't understand it, and it is fucking dumb. Madeleine's family got rich through the invention of a box of nuclear technology that requires extensive maintenance. Electricity and solar power is hardly used.

Strange to think that two or three hundred years ago, people still burned coal and gas for electricity, and that it took something as cataclysmic as the Eastern invasion and the ensuing treaty barring carbon emissions and oil trading to spark the new technology.

The hallmark of the upper class is the use of nuclear technology. I don't fucking get it.

Power generation quickly became the delineator of class. Wind power, with its industrial nature, took root among the poor, with homemade turbines decorating every tiny house, factory, and small farm. The middle class favored solar power because it was easy to maintain, reliable, and more discreet than the noisy turbines. The nuclear charge—portable and immensely powerful—became the favorite of the rich, but the raw materials needed to produce it was rare, and by ten or fifteen years after the Last War, the gentry alone could afford to purchase the charges.

Forgive me if I'm nitpicky, but what the FUCK is wrong with electricty? It is more or less clean, a hell of a lot cleaner than nuclear energy. It can be generated through STEAM, it can be generated through water turbines. SO WHY THE FUCK DO WE NEED FUCKING NUCLEAR ENERGY.

4. A CASTE SYSTEM!: Especially when said nuclear technology comes at the cost of an entire group of people. The Rootless. You know how in India they have a caste called the Untouchables, for people who are so low in society, society ignores them, shuns then and pretend they don't exist, they're lower than dirty? That is the Rootless.

They are responsible for taking care of these nuclear boxes. They suffer for it. They have no power, they suffer tremendous amount of injustice. They lack food, they lack water. They are the lowest of the low in terms of castes. And they are responsible for the most powerful technology upon which the rich are dependent.

As the caste in charge of handling the nuclear material that powered our lives, they were both vital to the gentry way of life and an ever-present liability.

As the caste in charge of handling the nuclear material that powered our lives, they were both vital to the gentry way of life and an ever-present liability.

The point in the book is that the Rootless are trying to rebel. I know how they can successfully rebel. They maintain all the nuclear boxes. By simply striking and refusing to work on these nuclear boxes, they will be immediately successful because nobody else will do the fucking job.

The end.


Jesus fucking Christ. The entire book is devoted to this when the rebellion could have been THAT simple.

The Romance: My fucking head. So Madeleine likes David.

Our eyes met across the room, and I shivered, because suddenly not caring about David Dana seemed unimportant---impossible. I wanted to go talk to him. I wanted to touch him. I wanted to dance with him in the cloud of smoke and music.

Only David has feelings for Cara.

My stomach churned every time he pulled her closer, his hand so low on her waist that his fingertips brushed her bustle. Once, a slender lock of hair fell into her face and he reached to tuck it behind her ear.

David flaunts his relationship with Cara in front of Madeleine's face.

David reached up to touch Cara’s face, his hand moving her hair back. His fingers brushed her cheek in a gesture so tender and comforting that everything in me boiled in a furious black vacuum.
He pulled her into his lap, one armed snaked firmly around her waist, and deepened the kiss, closing his eyes completely.

Only Madeleine can't stop caring about him. She talks big, really big. It's like she almost means it.

“You’ve treated me like I don’t matter, like I’m perfectly willing to have my feelings trampled on a ballroom floor while you pursue whomever you please. Let me tell you one thing, David Dana, it won’t happen again. I won’t watch you kiss Cara and then saunter back to me with more flirting and more lies. I’m done hoping for something you are clearly too selfish to give.”

Only she doesn't.

I want him to go.
I want him to stay.
I don’t care about him.
I can’t stop thinking about him.

Meanwhile, there's a handsome stranger. A jovial young man with hair like fire. One who thinks Madeleine deserves more than the life of a pampered princess.

The man turned and looked at me. “In my part of town, women are equals. We don’t put them on pedestals, and we don’t make them do our laundry or wash our dishes. We think of them as partners. Not princesses.”

And still another, a handsome young officer with eyes only for Madeleine.

I could feel him looking at me. Was he thinking about marriage? With me? I examined my cards to avoid looking at him. That was impossible. We had only just met.

Whomever will Madeleine fucking choose? The asshat who spurns her? The wonderful young man who adores her?

You know who she picks.