For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

I totally had something else on the schedule for today but then I read this and I HAVE to talk about it! I don’t even care that it’s not out for four months. It’s the best book I’ve read this year and everyone needs to read it. And love it and want it and stroke it and hug it….sorry. Got a little creepy there.

Generations ago, a genetic experiment gone wrong—the Reduction—decimated humanity, giving rise to a Luddite nobility who outlawed most technology.

Eighteen-year-old Luddite Elliot North has always known her place in this caste system. Four years ago Elliot refused to run away with her childhood sweetheart, the servant Kai, choosing duty to her family’s estate over love. But now the world has changed: a new class of Post-Reductionists is jumpstarting the wheel of progress and threatening Luddite control; Elliot’s estate is floundering; and she’s forced 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 Elliott wonders if this could be their second chance, Kai seems determined to show Elliot exactly what she gave up when she abandoned him.

But Elliot soon discovers her childhood friend carries a secret—-one that could change the society in which they live…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 has 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.

Okay, so, confession. I’ve never read Persuasion. I know. I KNOW. I will, I promise. I just…haven’t…yet. I’m not really sure why. I’ve seen two movies and I love all of Austen’s other works, that I’ve read. But I haven’t. So, that’s where I coming from when talking about For Darkness Shows the Stars.

Which was just beautiful and wonderful and so damn good. I’m not entirely sure I can be coherent about this. Okay, so before reading the book, I knew two things about it. One, it was written by awesome-killer-unicorn-lady, AKA, Diana Peterfreund. And two, it was a sci-fi retelling of Persuasion. One of these things is misleading and it isn’t the idea that the story is going to be full of strong females and angsty goodness.

It wasn’t all that sci-fi. I feel like if this had been published last year they would’ve shouted “DYSTOPIAN” from the rooftops. I was totally expecting this version of Wentworth to be a starship captain and for their to some interplanetary war going on in the background of all the angst and romance. But…yeah…no. If anything the book is more of  a post-apocalyptic story with some sci-fi elements. Most especially genetic engineering. This isn’t really important to the story, I just want everyone to have the proper expectations.

I don’t even know where to start with what I liked about this book. Everything? The letters that had previously been written between Elliot and Kai as they were growing up? How they were shown to us out of order and the entirety of their relationship revealed all slow and restrained but with such passion and caring and knowing that I could not help but fall in love with the idea them.

Elliot is smart and practical and wants more than anything to protect her friends and loved ones from her father’s controlling cruelty. Kai is smart and reckless and passionate and wants so much more than to be stuck on a farm for the rest of his life fixing broken equipment and making things run smoothly, and he recognizes that despite her responsibilities, Elliot wants more than that as well.

I loved the character of Ro, who could say so much by saying so little. Which, now I think about it, is what was really amazing about this book. You got so much from so little. I’m pretty sure Elliot and Kai never kiss in this book. They barely touch one another. But their emotions and their relationship and all these feelings I’m left with is so much more than anything else I’ve read recently. There are scenes when all they do is stare at one another. No words or actions necessary and I was still jittery with a NEED for them to work out their problems and just be happy and together.

There’s so much more going on though. There’s class prejudice and slavery and a group of people stuck on an island with very little technology and no way of knowing if the rest of the world is still out there. Recovering from some sort of genetic engineering mistake that made the majority of people become simple minded and unable to speak more than a couple syllables at a time. And all that was great and I’ll probably appreciate the world-building a lot more the second time I read it…this first time was all about Elliot and Kai though. All the mystery of how society as we knew it came crumbling down isn’t important. All the family drama, for me, existed simply as a way to pull these two apart and then bring them back together. All this stuff that I usually love in books just didn’t matter. I needed to know how Elliot and Kai ended.

And, I’m don’t want to spoil anything here, but of course, there’s a love letter. And…well…let’s just say in the course of reading this book I have decided that kissing someone’s knuckles is the most romantic action on the face of the planet.

I loved this book dearly and look forward to months of forcing people to read it!



3 Comments

  1. So, you’re going to mail this to me, right? :)

  2. [...] And then there’s this lovely review from Caitlin at WhatchYA Reading: [...]

  3. I can’t believe you’ve never read Persuasion. You have at least seen the BBC adaptation of it, right?

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