Across a Star-Swpt Sea (For Darkness Shows the Stars #2)
Author: Diana Peterfreund
Publisher: Balzer & Bray, 464 pages
Publication Date: October 15, 2013
Centuries after wars nearly destroyed civilization, the two islands of New Pacifica stand alone, a terraformed paradise where even the Reduction—the devastating brain disorder that sparked the wars—is a distant memory. Yet on the isle of Galatea, an uprising against the ruling aristocrats has turned deadly. The revolutionaries’ weapon is a drug that damages their enemies’ brains, and the only hope is rescue by a mysterious spy known as the Wild Poppy.
On the neighboring island of Albion, no one suspects that the Wild Poppy is actually famously frivolous aristocrat Persis Blake. The teenager uses her shallow, socialite trappings to hide her true purpose: her gossipy flutternotes are encrypted plans, her pampered sea mink is genetically engineered for spying, and her well-publicized new romance with handsome Galatean medic Justen Helo… is her most dangerous mission ever.
Though Persis is falling for Justen, she can’t risk showing him her true self, especially once she learns he’s hiding far more than simply his disenchantment with his country’s revolution and his undeniable attraction to the silly socialite he’s pretending to love. His darkest secret could plunge both islands into a new dark age, and Persis realizes that when it comes to Justen Helo, she’s not only risking her heart, she’s risking the world she’s sworn to protect.
What an incredible read. I loved the main characters, Persis and Justin. Persis is so strong and committed to freeing people who have been given a drug that mimics the effects of the Reduction. In order to be a spy, she has to pretend to be an empty-headed socialite who is only concerned with shopping and parties. Then she meets Justin and still has to continue the charade, even though she wants to show him that she's really smart. But Justin has his secrets as well, and they don't trust each other even when they're falling for each other. Justin is a great romantic interest and a hero (who has made mistakes) in his own right. It's refreshing to read a YA novel like this one, post-apocalyptic with sci-fi thrown in, that has a male romantic interest who is not a jerk. Instead, he's a smart, slightly geeky scientist who is actually a good guy. The secondary characters are also well-drawn and I enjoyed that some of the chapters were told from their POVs as well as from Persis's and Justin's. It worked really well.
The plot is fast-paced, engaging, and filled with political intrigue and danger. This novel is set in the same world as For Darkness Shows the Stars, but in this part of the world the Reduced were cured a long time ago (although there is a huge side effect from the cure). It's inspired from The Scarlet Pimpernel, which I haven't read, but it did make me want to read it! You don't have to have read For Darkness Shows the Stars to enjoy this, it really does stand alone. The only negative thing I have to say is that it ends quite abruptly. I would have liked another chapter or two or maybe even an epilogue. The main story is wrapped up, but there were a couple of small loose ends. In sum, an amazing book that I highly recommend.
I also truly enjoyed this book but I did find the first few chapters confusing as I was trying to keep straight the various people, places, and terminology. I think it was more confusing for me because I was reading it on the kindle where I find it difficult to go back and reread and because I had just finished For Darkness Shows the Stars. Even though the two books are set in the same world they have different social structures and use different terminology so I was often confused trying to figure out the parallels. Persis and Justin are wonderful individual characters but their love story wasn't developed enough in my opinion. Again, having just completed the first book might have set up an unrealistic expectation because I loved the relationship between the characters in the first book so much. I agree with Pam that the book ended too abruptly but I assumed it was because a third book would follow and I will definitely be reading it. Diana Peterfreund is a wonderful author.