Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Gold Star Review: For Darkness Shows the Stars

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. (Description from

Wow. I loved this book. It had all the romantic and sweeping, yet understated elements that you find in classic Austen, but they were wrapped in the most intriguingly imagined post-apocalyptic world. Persuasion is one of Austen's books that I really love (my favorite is Emma, in case you were interested) and I was a little afraid that Peterfreund might have taken on a little too big a task in modernizing it.... I should have had faith! She's one of my favorite authors for a reason.  Peterfreund nailed it!! 

I found myself wrapped in a world where I could see the connections to Austen's original work, but had no trouble at all losing myself in the new story, forgetting that it was anything but what it was. This world is similar to our own, but Elliot's family and friends are so far removed from our society that it feels very foreign. I liked the religious aspect that helped develop their philosophies and how it felt organic without becoming an overwhelming aspect of the book.  

The romance. Ah, the romance. I loved it.  It felt very real. Both characters had reasons to feel hurt and both had reasons they were unable to let go.  Elliot and Kai were two very strong personalities that were stuck in a tough situation that could easily have torn them apart forever. I loved that Peterfreund made Elliot strong enough to not only be herself, and only herself, to succeed in the things she tried to do, but also strong enough to fight for the man that she loved with all her heart. 

*(This following paragraph is quoted from the comparison I did between For Darkness Shows the Stars and Persuasion on Yalsa's The Hub) Thankfully, Diana Peterfreund’s Elliot North stays true to the spirit of Anne Elliot. Though Elliot may be younger, in the post-apocalyptic world that Peterfreund created, her emotions and convictions ring true in the same way, regardless of time and place. Peterfreund’s retelling effortlessly blends a new world and a new, struggling society with the heart and soul of Austen’s tale. The science fiction themes are easy to understand and seem to integrate themselves seamlessly into the story so that even readers shy about delving into the genre will have no trouble navigating this foreign world. Peterfreund’s readers will find themselves considering the same important themes from Persuasion, and hearts will beat faster because of the same romantic gestures. Some may even be inspired, as I was, to delve back into Jane Austen’s classic with freshly plucked heartstrings.

I recommend this book to all readers, regardless of whether or not you've read the original Austen tale that inspired it.  I give this book a GOLD STAR and can't wait to see what Peterfreund does with The Scarlet Pimpernel in the upcoming Across a Star-Swept Sea.

Full disclosure: Received signed book at BEA 2012

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