Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Book Review: For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

Release Date: June 12, 2012
(Thanks to ATWT for allowing me to participate on this tour!)
Published by: Balzer + Bray

For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

Generations ago, a genetic experiment gone wrong—the Reduction—decimated humanity, 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 PersuasionFor 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.

First off, when I saw that this was a post-apocalyptic retelling of Persuasion and the critic reviews said sci-fi and romance fans would be equally enchanted... I knew I had to have it.  And I was not disappointed in the slightest.

Ten Likes/Dislikes:

1. (+) Elliot North, the protagonist - In a way, she reminded me of Bitterblue (MC in the novel by Kristin Cashore).  They are both strong, smart, and determined female protagonists that don't wield swords but show their strength in their other capabilities.  I really loved reading from her perspective, and though the story is told in third person (like Austen's), I was able to fully empathize with Elliot.  She's probably in contention for one of my favorite female protagonists of 2012.
2. (+) World-building - It took me a while at first to completely understand all the distinctions and what the terms really meant, but I loved everything about the world of this novel. It's unlike any other futuristic novel because it has Austenian elements as well. There are light sci-fi elements like mentions of enhancing the human race and more hard elements like designing the perfect crop. I particularly loved the theme behind the world-building - about the fine line of bioethics, science and religion--how far we are willing to take our knowledge.
3. (+) The Romance - Gah!  So perfect. Kai is really brutal to Elliot in the start, and most of the romance does follow the same pattern as that established by Persuasion (anger to the point of hatred to resolution to love), but there's an undercurrent of tension here that I didn't really feel when I read Persuasion. And later, once they had gotten their issues onto the table and somewhat resolved, all I could think was: Kiss her already, dammit!
4. (+) Retelling - The Persuasion elements were enough that it could be called a retelling but what made me really glad was that Peterfreund mostly used them to highlight Elliot's character and never once did it seem like the story being told was confined by the fact that it was a retelling (though honestly I don't remember much of the events of Persuasion).
5. (+) Character Cast - Beautiful job developing and making these characters three dimensional. There were a few that I had wished gotten a little more attention, but mostly everyone is their own person, and I could imagine the kind of person they'd be in a more contemporary setting today.
6. (+) Villains - There are no true villains like how you might think of them, but the people who are meant to oppose Elliot do so in a way that felt realistic to the story.  For what it's worth, I liked that not everybody was perfect, that they all had their own motives which influenced their outlooks enough that plenty of people could be villains in their right.
7. (+) Timeless - This novel is unlike most other YA novels in that I could actually see its themes and its characters respectively being applicable and loved years and years later. It took a bit from a classic itself, and to me, seems like a classic in and of itself.
8. (+) The Writing - Beautiful and sensual and absolutely perfect for the kind of sci-fi and romance mesh that this story is.
9. (+) Pacing - It's a consistent but somewhat slow pace that builds to a satisfying climax and conclusion. It takes a few chapters for the action to get started (aka Kai and the Cloud Fleet showing up) but other than that, there were no hits and misses.
10. (+/-) The Cover - This one's definitely pretty but almost pretty without any representation of the novel... though honestly I'm not sure what I'd have expected the publishers to come up with for this one...

Another favorite of 2012. The back cover had it right: an epic, post-apocalyptic love story inspired by Jane Austen's Persuasion, and I couldn't turn its pages fast enough. If any of you are the slightest bit interested in this novel, Diana Peterfreund released a free prequel called Among the Nameless Stars, which you can find here.


  1. I read this book and loved it too! I agree it took me a little into it to understand the terms in fact I found myself reading somethings over in the first couple of chapters but once I got into it, I loved Elliot as a character then I didn't then I did. I'm a Jane Austen fan so if you have read her books, this is a classic Jane Austen spin-off in a mutantated gene sort of way. Loved your review, this book is one of my fav's can't wait to read more from her!:) Thanks

  2. I cant wait for this to come out. It looks so good... Love your review..

    Jenea @ Books Live Forever

  3. Now I want to get my hands on this one BADLY!
    Great review!

    Krazyyme @ Young Readers

  4. I loved this review! Are we able to use the same rubric you have for your reviews? It's so easy and will save me time and a headache. let me know, thanks!A

    1. Oh, no, I never got around to answering this question, but no I would prefer you to find your own review style, Alice. I hope you have. Thank you.


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