Thursday, September 19, 2013

Review: For Darkness Shows the Stars

    By Diana Peterfreund



It's been several generations since a genetic experiment gone wrong caused the Reduction, decimating humanity and giving rise to a Luddite nobility who outlawed most technology.

Elliot North has always known her place in this world. Four years ago Elliot refused to run away with her childhood sweetheart, the servant Kai, choosing duty to her family's estate over love. Since then the world has changed: a new class of Post-Reductionists is jumpstarting the wheel of progress, and Elliot's estate is foundering, forcing her to rent land to the mysterious Cloud Fleet, a group of shipbuilders that includes renowned explorer Captain Malakai Wentforth--an almost unrecognizable Kai. And while Elliot wonders if this could be their second chance, Kai seems determined to show Elliot exactly what she gave up when she let him go.

But Elliot soon discovers her old friend carries a secret--one that could change their society . . . or bring it to its knees. And again, she's faced with a choice: cling to what she's been raised to believe, or cast her lot with the only boy she's ever loved, even if she's lost him forever.

Inspired by Jane Austen's Persuasion, For Darkness Shows the Stars is a breathtaking romance about opening your mind to the future and your heart to the one person you know can break it.

My favorite Jane Austen book is Persuasion and this book takes that story on in a way I never imagined could work. I never read a Persuasion adaptation up until now because I simply love the original story so much. I was hopeful, but ready to be disappointed even though I'd heard very good things about this book. I am so happy that this was my first venture into Persuasion adaptations. It is brilliant!!

Even though this is an adaptions, it woks well on its own. Peterfreund has set up a society which is familiar because of the influx of dystopian style books in YA recently. Elliot North is part of a ruling minority of Luddites who have outlawed technology and most forms of advancement because of the Reduction, a virus that spread through a large part of the population after a genetic experiment went wrong. The Reduction resulted in the Reduced, a population of people who rely on the Luddites to care for them. For generations the society has relied on Reduced labor to make Luddite farms profitable. This repression has now come to a boiling point and Elliot is caught in the middle. She wants to care for the people who work for her even though her father and sister seem to foster no concern. She begins to take risks to protect the people she cares about while going against her family and her society's beliefs.

The world building is excellent. There are lots of details about the beliefs and history of this society that make it real and complete for the reader. The excellent world building is one of the reason I think this book would work so well on its own and why it worked so well as an adaptation. The rigid structure of Elliot's world reminds me a lot of Regency England and was an excellent way to separate Elliot and Kai like Anne and Wentworth were separated. There were definitely some darker elements to this book as well which I thought were well explored and not glossed over. While Kai and his friends have become rich and powerful because they escaped their situations. It is clear that not everyone is as lucky and that tensions in the North family run deeper that they first appear.

The elements of Persuasion  are beautiful weaved into Peterfreund's original story. I think she really captured Jane Austen's characters and put them in a fresh setting especially Anne/Elliot. Where Anne is trapped by Regency England etiquette and values, Elliot is trapped by the laws and religion of the Luddite Society. Both of them want and dream of more but are bound by duty and obligation. If you know Persuasion at all, you know how important letters are in that story. I thought the use of letters to introduce the reader to Elliot and Kai's past relationship was superb. It was a great way to introduce more information about the world and give the reader a back story without overwhelming us with information. I would love to have a discussion about the two settings and the differences in the characters because there is so many similarities, but also striking differences.

While I knew how the story was going to end, I really enjoyed the new setting and fresh take on the characters and how this story played out in a different setting. I'm looking forward to Peterfreund's next book, Across the Star Swept Sea, which comes out next month and takes place in this same world.

Rating - 5/5

Update: I also put up a bit of a review where I talked about the book on my Youtube channel!

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