"We were both searching for our grails, knights on an impossible quest, because this grail didn't exist. There was no shining castle at the end of the road. There was no amount of compassion or aid or wealth that I could bestow that would erase my own beginnings in a place of privilege while others had been born in a place of suffering at the margins of society..."
You can read my review of the first book in the series, Landry Park here.
Landry Park was about a future where the former United States has converted to nuclear energy to power their homes. The charges that keep everything running have to be changed every year, and that job goes to the Rootless. The Rootless are the lowest class, a sickly and weak people. The upper class, the Gentry, believe that the Rootless must be punished for what their ancestors did, or rather failed to do.
The plot of the book centered on Madeline Landry, descendant of Jacob Landry, the man who is responsible for the domestication of nuclear power. Her friend Cara is attacked, and everyone thinks the assailant was one of the Rootless, everyone but Madeline. The Gentry, especially her father, use the attack as an excuse to further persecute the Rootless. Meanwhile, Madeline falls for the new guy in town, David, though it seems like he is already set on Cara.
It turns out that David and Cara were pretending to be together. She is actually in love with a Rootless boy, Ewan. David actually likes Madeline and they get together. Cara wasn't attacked by a Rootless, but by her mother who disapproved of her daughter's relationship. In a shocking twist, the leader of the Rootless, Jack, turned out to be Stephen, Madeline's long-lost and presumed dead uncle. Jack/Stephen kicks her father out of Landry Park. The Rootless punish him by feeding him food laced with radioactive waste.
As Jubilee Manor opens, Madeline and her uncle are throwing a party at Landry Park. They want to bring the Rootless and Gentry together and get the Gentry to give the Rootless more aid and treat them like people. The entire party is ruined when they find a dead body. If I had a nickel, amirite?
Marianne Wilder was the daughter of one of the Gentry, and the killer positioned her on top of a crossed out Landry symbol. It's obviously a message against her family and against their attempts to help the Rootless. Madeline suspects a particularly cranky member of the Rootless named Smith. She doesn't actually have any evidence, it's basically because she doesn't like him because he was mean to her.
Baseless accusations aside, in order to sway the Gentry to help the Rootless, Madeline and Jack bring her father back from exile. They are both surprised by the changes in Alexander Landry. He is nicer, even apologizing to little Charlie, who he was going to execute ("Sorry I almost had you eat radioactive waste, though I never would have done it if I knew you were my nephew"). Most surprising is that he is almost completely healed, with only a few scars remaining.
Cousin Jamie, who is a doctor, notices his rapid healing, combined with Jack's longevity when compared to the other Rootless, and forms a theory that the Landrys are immune to radioactive material. He even believes that their blood may be used to come up with a vaccination to protect the Rootless, even cure them.
Unfortunately, more Gentry heirs are murdered. Just like in the first book, the police are harsh on the Rootless because the Gentry are pushing for results. They go so far as to burn down the Rootless' homes. Madeline and her family take in as many as they can at Landry Park. Everything is a huge mess. Most of the Gentry don't want to mess with the way things are. The Rootless are afraid of punishment, and they start to become wary of Jack after finding out about the Landry immunity. Certain members even break off and start to negotiate with the East (Enemies from Asia). Once again, it's up to Madeline to find the killer and stop the persecution.
I was disappointed in Madeline in this book. She is utterly convinced that Smith is the killer, even though her uncle and David tell her she's wrong. I was torn between believing that there was no way she was right and thinking that it was so obvious that she wasn't right that she actually might be right. It's kind of funny how she is acting as narrow-minded as the police when it comes to Smith, though at least she isn't as cruel.
Jubilee Manor ended the series on a good note. I wished there was more romance, namely between Madeline and David, and Cara and Ewan. Regretfully, it is hard to fit those kinds of plots in with brutal murder and class warfare. In the end, the murders do get solved, the warfare is on its way to being resolved, and Madeline finally gets to go to university. We are left with the potential hope of happily ever after for everyone.
I received my copy of Jubilee Manor from Edelweiss, courtesy of Dial Books. It's available for purchase now.