Book Title/Author: For Darkness Shows The Stars by Diana Peterfreund
Publisher/Year: : Balzar + Bray – June 2012
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian/Science Fiction
Series: No – standalone!
Other Books From Author: Rampant & Ascendant (killer unicorns!) & Secret Society Girl
The Story: For Darkness Shows The Stars is set in a world that is living in the aftermath of botched genetic experiments on humankind which resulted in the Reduction — a phenomena that caused people to be “Reduced” and caused the Luddite nobility to reject all technology and want things to go back to the way they believed God intended it to be. They believed that the Reduced people were God’s way of punishing mankind for trying to mess around with science and play God. As time moved on, children were being born that were not “Reduced” and they began to reject their position as Reduced people and seek progress. Eliot North is a Luddite in charge of her Father’s estate. As a child she fell in love with Kai, a Post-Reduced that worked on her estate, but refused to run away with him when he wanted to forge a better life. Years later, as her Estate is crumbling & out of a desperate need for money, she rents out her grandfather’s home to a famous Captain and his shipbuilders who are known to be a bit more progressive than the Luddites.
The Review: GOOD LAWD. This is one of those books I went into reading knowing very little (at the insistence of Anna) and came out feeling like I found a gem amidst a very crowded market of paranormal creatures, love triangles & dystopians who promise a unique world. Don’t get me wrong, I love all of those things. I do. But every once in a while I find something that feels wholly unique and stands out among the crowd and I want to hold it high above the rest. It was this freaking epic mix of romantical, science fictiony/post apocalytpic GOODNESS. I had no idea.
I was a little nervous to read this as it is a inspired by/kind of a retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, which I have not yet read, so I was afraid I’d be confused. Fortunately you do NOT need to read it to understand and appreciate the story but I DO feel, as I’ve talked to people who have read both, feel it would greatly enhance your reading experience.
I’ll admit in the beginning it was SO HARD TO FOLLOW. I kept getting stuck on who the Luddites, Reduced & Posts were and why they were that way. But after I kept going (which I urge you to do!) I found myself wholly immersed in the story of Eliot & Kai and desperately hungry to learn more about this world.
Eliot & Kai’s relationship was so tragic and just one of those crazy tensioned filled ones that had me just firmly gripping the book and hoping I could will them together with some crazy book lover voodoo or something. Their love was so beautiful and innocent as children but Eliot’s fear of the unknown and what would happen if she didn’t adhere to the Luddite ways held her back and it was so, so sad. I understood that, since she grew up only knowing the Luddite ways, and understood her sense of duty to her estate and all the people who worked there knowing how they would be treated if left to her sister and father. This made me love her, because she was so noble, but I hurt for her so bad. And then when Kai comes back into her life, my heart just BROKE for her and his coldness collided into my own heart. I COULD NOT TAKE IT! All that tension. All that pent up anger. AH. But then there would be a glimmer of that love that could just make my little heart swoon. And THOSE LETTERS. They reduced me to my high school self melting into a pile of ooey gooey romantical feelings on my bed and sobbing to ALL OF THE LOVE SONGS because I want a boy who writes me letters and makes me FEEL ALL OF THE FEELINGS. I just cared so much for both of them.
The world was just so unlike anything. There’s this mix of science fiction but yet most of the world feelings like you are feeling like it’s something straight out of Amish country. The hierarchy of the Luddites and the Reduced/Posts was so fascinating. The descriptions. ALL OF IT. I could picture the estate and the surrounding scenes of nature. It was written so phenomenally — one of those books where the world starts swirling off the pages and begins to be a motion picture in my mind. There were some things I wished were explained a little better about the world and I thought at the end I wasn’t so sure how Eliot completely reconciled what she learned about Kai so quickly but I got over that just fine.
While I haven’t read Persuasion, I do feel, having read other Austen novels, that Diana Peterfruend captured all of the swoon-inducing romance and extremely layered characterization (and holla for an awesome female heroine!) that a Jane Austen novel delivers. The writing is just gorgeous and flawless and the characters are those that find their way off the pages and into your heart. So very unique! So very heartbreaking and beautiful. So utterly mesmerizing. One of my favorites of the year! Rushing to read Persuasion because I need to meet the man, the myth and the legend that is Captain Wentworth.
Recommends For Lovers Of: Austen retellings, unique & slow building stories with gut-wrenching romantic tension, beautiful writing, a mix of science fiction/post-apocalyptic/dystopian goodness
Let’s talky talk: Have you read this book? Is it on your radar? If you read it and also have read Persuasion, what do you think I missed from the experience having not read it? Any other Austen retellings I should know about?