Release Date: June 12, 2012
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Age Group: Young Adult
Buy: Amazon / Book Depository / IndieBound
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 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.
Sometimes, when you least expect it, a story comes along that latches onto your heart and won’t let go. It’s delightful and heart-breaking, perfectly gut-wrenching, and it’s exactly what you need at exactly that moment. That’s how I feel about For Darkness Shows the Stars, Diana Peterfreund’s retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, with a dystopian sci-fi twist.
Elliot North is a Luddite, meaning she was raised to follow a certain set of protocols in order to keep herself safe from genetic experimentation, so her generation doesn’t become like the Reduced. Her best friend Kai is a Post-Reduction offspring, and he has dreams of becoming more than just the mechanic to the North estate like his father before him. Four years ago, Kai left, and Elliot didn’t go with him. Now he’s back as Captain Malakai Wentworth, bringing his impressive record and a fleet of friends with him. Elliot has some secrets of her own, a room full of them in the barn where she and Kai used to pass their time and pass each other letters, and these secrets can change her entire life as well as the lives of everyone on the North estate. Can Elliot and Kai forget the past, forgive the mistakes of what’s already happened? Can Elliot finally stand up to her Luddite-to-the-core father?
The world building here is some of my favorite. There’s enough explanation about who Luddites and Posts are without getting too technical, and it always keeps with the flow of the writing. It is a bit front-loaded, with a lot of information right off the bat, but it didn’t have that “info-dump” feel I’ve experienced before. I also love when a dystopian world seems like it could potentially happen to the real world, and that is certainly the case in Elliot’s world.
And speaking of Elliot… man, does this lady RULE! She’s strong and determined to make the right choice for the people the cares about the most. She’s been through so much in her 18 years, so much so that she carries herself as someone older than that. I often forgot she was only supposed to be 18, because she keeps acting well beyond those years. It’s only in her reactions to Kai and in their gallery of paper glider letters dating back ten years or more that she shows her youth. It’s an endearing trait for an already endearing narrator.
For a story so fraught with the kind of romance that makes your heart ache, there’s very few traditional romantic scenes (i.e. the big epic kisses). The thing is, it doesn’t really need it, nor do I really miss those scenes. There are so many others that are so intense that you will find yourself squealing in glee when she and Kai so much as GLANCE at each other. And whenever he shows up in the barn, in their old stomping grounds, my heart practically leaps out of my chest.
Clearly, I adore For Darkness Shows the Stars. The characters delight, the world grabs hold of you instantly, and the words flow perfectly. I will be reading and recommending this for years to come.