Review: For Darkness Shows The Stars by Diana Peterfreund

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

Amazon| Goodreads | Diana Peterfreund’s Website

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?

Eve by Anna Carey

Book Title/Author: Eve by Anna Carey
Publisher/Year: HarperTeen 2011
Genre: YA dystopian/post-apocalyptic
Series: Yes. Eve is book #1. The second book Once: An Eve Novel is out July 3rd 2012.
Other Books From Author: Sloane Sisters series

Amazon | Goodreads | Anna Carey’s Website

Disclosure: The publisher sent it to me in exchange for an honest review. This has in no way  swayed or affected my opinions on the book. My honesty & credibility as a reader is more important to me than that.

It’s 2032 and 98% of the population has been wiped out thanks to a deadly virus and complications from the vaccine created to stop it. Eve is one of the survivors living in the New America and lives in a secluded all-female boarding school with other orphans where they are groomed to be teachers and artists and the like. Eve’s all set to graduate and start her training to be an artist until she learns the very shocking reality of what these schools are really about and what happens to graduates when they leave. Armed with this knowledge, she decides to escape – even if that means facing a world of unknown after the aftermath of the virus. A world she’s been taught to fear full of men, rabid dogs & gangs that will bring harm to her. 

I absolutely devoured this book. It was undeniably a white knuckles, bated breath kind of page-turner for me. I was so enraptured into this landscape that Anna Carey paints in Eve. I could see every rusted bridge,  every house that had been overcome with the wild & scenes of every day life that had just been abandoned and left there — just waiting for their owners to come back. It was grim, unsettling & downright chilling. Eve’s escape into this world, contrasted with her memories from her childhood & time at her school, highlights this even more. I read this book so quickly as I wanted to learn more about this world through Eve’s struggle to escape and find safety & answers to what she had learned her real fate was.  Every twist and turn and jolt of action had me reeling until the very end. An ending at which left me screaming, “WAHHHH!” and so very happy I had Eve’s sequel – Once – in my possession.

The romance of this book is one that I loved but I didn’t necessarily believe fully which I’ll explain below. The good part of it, for me, was how pure and innocent it felt. How it can just knock you off your feet and delude your senses. I really loved Caleb and I just got the warm and fuzzies watching her experience these feelings of love/lust for Caleb. I also thought, beyond the Caleb/Eve relationship, that I just adored Eve’s relationship with the young boys. Oh, my heart. Parts of this book, in relation to love, were just SO SO beautiful.

“I had once read, in one of those pre-plague books in the library, that love was bearing witness. That it was the act of watching someone’s life, of simply being there to say: you’re life is worth seeing.”

But, friends, I have to honest with you. I had some issues with aspects of this book despite how quickly I devoured it & how I truly did enjoy it. It’s one of those books that felt like a whirlwind summer fling. It was this passionate, dizzying and thrilling ride but when I sat down to think about it and digest…I realized I saw some major problems that I couldn’t ignore — no matter how much I had been blinded by my thrill ride with the story. It wasn’t as perfect as I initially thought it to be when I was all lovedrunk.

Eve herself confused me. I got the sense, from the short glimpse of her life at school, that she was so naive and brainwashed. So I had my eyebrows raised when she so easily got the cajones (seriously, like 30 pages in) to even get out of bed and snoop around..let alone actually rebel and try to escape. I felt like there was nothing about her that we had learned that made me BELIEVE that she’d do that.  Everything we had been shown about her seemed contrary to her character…but at the same time this big REVEAL was so so soon in the book that she didn’t even feel developed to me yet. We just knew what we were told — top student, naive, idealistic, etc.  Granted, I suppose if I saw what she did and realized my fate, that I’d run like hell too. But I just even thought she was too brainwashed and naive that she’d think there was some explanation for it and not leave like a bat out of hell.

The OTHER part of her that confused me was that, after a lifetime of being indoctrinated with this fear of men, she pretty easily trusted Caleb. I mean, yeah, she was wary but I don’t feel like she was wary enough as someone who was so fearful of men and hadn’t seen a man in so long. At the same time, I thought that maybe her being repressed from the male species for so long made her even MORE susceptible to that curious attraction that just makes you fall head over heels & giddy. I think of those times in my life and so I can KIND of see it. It still made it hard for me to fully believe because I just felt like everything we knew of her just unraveled. I didn’t believe that someone that had been so brainwashed would just get over it that quickly. And also, you are running for your life because of what you’ve found out and you are in danger yet all you can think about is a boy?? More than anything else.

I just feel like, because the revelation happened so soon, I never got to really see WHO Eve was. I just saw a girl who were were told was one way and all we see is something totally different VERY quickly..and I never felt much growth or character development that made up for that.

Also, without getting to spoilery, there were some confusing parts about the setup of this world and why things are the way they are. How did the virus come to be? What did the antidote do? Why do these girls get this intense schooling if their fate is what it is? I have a lot of why’s about the logistics of all of it that I’m hoping will be answered.

My final thought: Eve kept me turning the pages with it’s chilling premise, vivid world building & action-packed journey. I couldn’t put it down and it broke my heart in all the right places. While I really enjoyed my whirlwind inhalation of this book, there are some character development issues with Eve, the main character, that I just couldn’t ignore, and some really hole-y world building in terms of WHY the world is the way it is.  It was a good, enjoyable dystopian read that I think those who are loving  the fast paced, romance inclusive variety of YA dystopian will like — if they can look past some of the development issues.I liked it but I can’t say I thought it to be a 5 star, perfect read as many others did! I’d probably recommend some other dystopian books before this one!

 

Review On A Post-It

 

You May Also Like: Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi, Delirium by Lauren Oliver

What did YOU think about this book?? Let’s talk about it! If you haven’t read it, is it on your TBR?

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