For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund
Release: June 12, 2012
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It's been several generations since a genetic experiment gone wrong caused the Reduction, decimating humanity and 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
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First, I will say this: you do not have to read Persuasion to read For Darkness Shows the Stars. In fact, the book might be more enjoyable if you did not read it. But before I get ahead of myself, I will say that I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book despite a few glaring issues.
For Darkness Shows the Stars is a retelling/futuristic interpretation of Jane Austen's last published book: Persuasion. At the heart of the story is duty to family, duty to heart, and (most importantly) second chances. There are a lot of similarities between Elliot North (of For Darkness Shows the Stars) and Anne Elliot (of Persuasion). Both are admirable characters. They are not unique, they do not "stand out", but they are both exceptionally real.
Years ago, a genetic experimentation lead to a phase called the "reduction". Those who went through the experimentation process became "reduced"--unable to speak, think, and act properly. They lack normal mental capacity. After the reduction, scientific experimentation was prohibited and it is now seen as an act of defiance against God. These reduced people often produce reduced offspring, but every once in a while, a normal child is conceived. These are considered "Posts". Elliot North, the main character, is neither of these. She comes from a family of Luddites who shunned the scientific experimentation during the reduction, and as a result, found themselves responsible to care for both the Reduced and the Posts. It's a society that very much resembles the slavery/post slavery period with plantains, servants, workers, etc.
This is all an interesting concept, but confusing at first, and that is one of my first complaints. I loved the world, but I felt a little overwhelmed by all the facts and a little confused by the facts that were left out in the beginning. Once I understood, though, I was completely and utterly engrossed.
Elliot, as I said, is the daughter of a Luddite. When she was younger, she befriended a Post boy named Kai. They were friends, and Elliot fancied herself in love. In a series of events, Kai left and Elliot made the decision to stay for the sake of her family. When Kai comes back into her life, the flurry of memories and emotions make her present situation infinitely more complicated. I'll spare the details and just say I loved Kai and Elliot. I could FEEL Elliot's heartbreak, I could FEEL the chemistry. There are times when I wanted to throw the book because of how Kai treated Elliot and vice versa, but I couldn't stop reading.
I would also like to compliment Peterfruend's writing. There are moments that made me want to highlight passages because they were that good! And I loved reading the letters between Kai and Elliot when they were younger. It made their past seem that much more real...
Unfortunately, there is one letter that did not measure up to my expectations: the very last letter Kai writes to Elliot. It's written in the present, and it's beautiful in itself. The biggest disappointment comes from he fact that I read Persuasion first. In persuasion, Wentworth writes a letter in which he confesses everything. I will spare the details, but I will say this: the letter in For Darkness Shows the Stars didn't measure up. It's hard to explain why without giving spoilers, but the letter was probably my biggest disappointment of the whole book (hence, my rating).
I encourage everyone to read this book, though: fan of Persuasion or not. Again, the beginning is a bit rough to get through, but I think the pay out is worth it in the end.