Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Book Review: For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

For Darkness Shows the Stars
Author: Diana Peterfreund
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: June 12, 2012

From Goodreads:
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.

When I read that this book was inspired by Persuasion I had high expectations since my favorite Jane Austen novel is probably Persuasion.  I am pleased to report that not only were my expectations met in the form of the relationship between Elliot and Kai they were exceeded in terms of the larger story about the tension between science, nature, and God.  Even if you are not a fan of Persuasion this story has much to offer.

Even though there are only a few scenes between Elliot and Kai as adults, I still felt I understood their relationship through the notes they exchanged as children.  I thought this was an interesting way to show how their friendship developed and a great way to explain some of the history of their world.  The fact that they had been taught different things and disagreed about how to change their situations helped the reader to understand why Kai left and Elliott stayed.  

As an Austen fan, I appreciated the parts of the story that mimicked Austen's preferences for closing the distance between people in different social classes and her admiration for hard work that often goes unappreciated. I also enjoyed the parts of the book that highlighted the inconsistencies in the behaviors of the two groups competing for power (the Luddities and the Posts).  I thought it was a very realistic portrayal of two groups whose ideological positions are too extreme and easily corrupted in their search for power and influence.  Finally, what I enjoyed most about this as a dystopian novel was the thought given to the moral and unintended consequences of altering human biology and what different groups might do when the tinkering begins to go too far. I believe this would be a great book to assign in a classroom to help students talk about the moral conundrums of biological enhancements.

SPOILER ALERT: This book ends in much the same way as Persuasion with the couple going off on their merry way.  While I was content with that ending in Persuasion, I definitely wanted more from this book.  I immediately read the prequel and enjoyed it very much.  I would recommend that people start with the book however.  I was also thrilled to find out that Peterfreund wrote a second book about this society (Across A Star Swept Sea, publication date October 15, 2013) but not the characters of Elliot and Kai which I think is a great way to move the series forward. 

Prequel to For Darkness Shows the Stars
Among the Nameless Stars

Posted by Sheri
From Hotel Ibis, Stare Miasto Warsaw Poland


  1. oh my god, a persuasion-inspired dystopian YA??? you just made my entire day if not week if not month. persuasion is one of my favorite JA novels. adding this to my TBR list!

  2. I that I have discovered this one I am looking for more : )
    thanks for stopping by!

  3. I tell so many people to read this sci-fi retelling of Jane Austen and they all think it sounds weird - but even though it's dystopian/sci-fi she does an awesome job keeping a lot of the Jane Austen aspects, like you said. I loved this book as well. Great review!

  4. I am so glad that you liked this! It was one of my favorite reads from last year. She did such an amazing job and you don't even have to be an Austen fan to love this book! Just an FYI since you talked about wanting more...Kai and Elliot do show up towards the end of Across a Star-Swept Sea, so their story does continue a little even though they aren't the focal point. :)

    Tressa @ Tressa's Wishful Endings

  5. Glad you liked this1 I actually haven't read Persuasion but this book makes me want to!

  6. I have heard so many great things about this book that I definitely plan on reading it at some point. I haven't read Persuasion so I won't be able to connect to it in the same way that you did but I expect to love it non the less. :) Thanks for sharing!