Thursday, April 25, 2013

Book Review: For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

Pages: 402
Genre: YA Sci-Fi
Pub. Date: June 12, 2012
Source: Library
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "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 PersuasionFor 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."
The setting of For Darkness Shows the Stars is a post-apocalyptic world where technology is shunned and Luddites rule large estates. The lower class, or the "Reduced" and Posts, work on these estates without many rights and are basically servants.  Elliot North practically runs her father's farm as he doesn't show much of an interest in it, which poses a problem as they need food to not only feed themselves, but the laborers, too.  Unlike many Luddites, Elliot has always had a soft spot for the workers on her father's estate, especially Ro and Kai. She was very close with both of them growing up, especially Kai, whom she developed strong feelings for.  Elliot and Kai wrote many letters back and forth to each other for years and spent a lot of time in the barn together despite the fact that it's forbidden.  Kai, upset with his future as a Post, decides to run away and wants Elliot to come with him, but ultimately, she doesn't as she feels a sense of duty to the estate.  Many years go by and the estate is in desperate need for money, so she rents out a shipyard to the Cloud Fleet, led by Captain Malakai Wentworth.  Lo and behold, Malakai is none other than Kai from her childhood.  But things don't just go back to the way they were before as Kai seems to be holding a grudge and Elliot finds out some secrets about him that are unsettling to say the least.  Diana Peterfreund's For Darkness Shows the Stars, inspired by Jane Austen's Persuasion, is a tale that both fans of science fiction and romance will find surprisingly captivating.

I really felt for Elliot in For Darkness Shows the Stars. I understood her sense of duty and the fact that she didn't want to up and leave the estate with Kai.  Her father is a heartless man and her sister can be pretty cruel as well, which is why Elliot felt she needed to stay since she really is the only one who knows the ins and outs of running a farm. Plus, what would happen to Ro and the others if she were to leave?  Her relationship with Kai was illustrated wonderfully through their letters from past years, which are shared with readers between each chapter. I really liked the way Peterfreund did this and how it slowly unfolded; I thought it was extremely effective.

Kai is an interesting character. I had NO idea what was coming regarding his secret and once that part of the plot unfolded, I was completely hooked on For Darkness Shows the Stars.  Although I knew the outcome of the novel (I am a huge fan of Persuasion), I still loved to be caught up in Kai and Elliot's angst-filled romance.

I had a hard time trying to make sense of Elliot's post-apocalyptic world. I wish Peterfreund would have provided more of a backstory regarding this, but nonetheless, once I got used to the different castes, I was lost in this dystopia.  Persuasion is one of my favorite novels of all time and Peterfreund did a wonderful job bringing it to life with an interesting science-fiction twist.  

I never thought I would say that the combination of Jane Austen and a dystopian could work, but it does in Peterfreund's For Darness Shows the Stars.  Fans of Persuasion won't be disappointed.  It seems that Peterfreund is working on another classic with a twist, Across a Star Swept Sea. It is based on The Scarlet Pimpernel and comes out this October.  In sum, I'm a fan of Diana Peterfreund and will definitely be checking out her future work.


  1. I absolutely loved this book (Persuasion is one of my favorite Jane Austen novels) and can't wait for the sequel since I also loved The Scarlet Pimpernel. It does take a little time to figure out the rules of the world but I liked the use of the letters to explain the past. The novella is excellent too.

  2. I wish I liked dystopians, because I am interested in this book. But they just freak me out too much to even think about giving this one a try. Also, Peterfreund is writing a Scarlet Pimpernel retelling set in this same world. LOVE SCARLET PIMPERNEL, but I know I won't read it.

  3. This book was a total surprise for me! I also loved the letters back and forth. The background is a little hard to follow at times but I still loved it all. I haven't read Persuasion but this book inspired me too! Great review! :)

    ~Sara @ Forever 17 Books

  4. WOO HOO!!!! This was one of my favorite reads last year, I'm so glad you loved it too Christina! I agree there was a bit of confusion about the world and how it came to be, but I thought the characterization was so strong that not having all the answers about past just didn't really matter to me. I can't wait to Across A Star Swept Sea!

  5. I skimmed over your review, because I have this one and I'm going to read it soon and I like not knowing what is what. But I'm glad to hear that you liked it so much! Yay!

  6. This sounds good. I definitely have had my eye on it for a while and eventually want to pick it up and I love that cover as well. Great review and thanks for sharing! :)

  7. I love the sound of this book, especially the characters and the letter-writing aspect. Great review! :)

  8. I love Persuasion, and can't wait to read this!

  9. I never read Persuasion before reading this book, but the minute I finished it, Persuasion became a book that I knew I had to read (and yet still haven't got to >_<) I loved Peterfreund's writing in this book, everything from the characters to the story itself kept me hooked. The romance was absolutely amazing and I am so excited for her next book!


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