Tuesday, June 5

For Darkness Shows the Stars: Book Review

For Darkness Shows the Stars
Diana Peterfreund
Balzer + Bray
June 12th 2012
Young Adult | Fantasy | Post-Apocalyptic
Classic Retelling

Official Blurb -
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.

I was a bit skeptical of this book when it first came to my attention. I read and disliked Rampant and felt like much of the focus was on sex. But when I heard this book coupled with Persuasion and Jane Austen I put aside my misgivings. I want to shout HOORAY to the heavens! Thank you Diana Peterfreund for showing us it can be done. The classics like those written by Jane Austen aren't just relics. These classics can be revived without losing parts that are crucial. A book can be written without sex and foul language that is absolutely entertaining.

Admittedly this isn't a perfect joyride. There was some giggling and eye rolling over the name Captain Wentforth. Come on can you blame me? If you are familiar with Persuasion, the original character is named Captain Wentworth. On top of which I can't help but think of the meaning, Went-forth, haha. There are also a smattering of moments that felt repetitive. The ending felt a bit rushed and a bit too easy.

The title for this one is a bit strange. Even after reading the book I feel the title is a bit of an odd fit.

The story of Persuasion has been combed through for its more precious gems thrown into the future steampunk style. This is all done while retaining the social system and manners from the original. I think almost all of my favorite parts of Persuasion were translated into this story. The stakes are raised and Elliot allows us a depth of understanding and perception into the classic character. A new addition to this novel is a more prominent villain. There is also this one line with the word "insupportable" that made me smile. I felt transported into a Jane Austen novel on the spot by that line. Even though this is a retell, there are plenty of secrets to keep things fresh.

I liked the way this story balanced both sides of the genetic debate. Those who fear it and find it wrong as well as those who feel that if we can we should. As a geneticist I found it believable enough. That is assuming certain persons had access to very high tech equipment and the previous scientists notes. The biggest hurdle is the time line for huge genetic research and change. Four years is a very small amount of time. I know at this stage in reality it couldn't be done but given this is based in a distant future, why not.

Refreshing! Loved it! I hope that this book will start a revolution for more classics being refurnished. This book is so squeaky clean there isn't even a kiss. If you love Jane Austen and crave post-apocalypic worlds this is perfect for you.