22 June 2012

For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

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.

Reading this book was a complete joy.  I loved it from the first minute to the very last page.  It was a great modern update on the Austen classic, making it understandable and relatable.  Elliot was less passionate a narrator than Kai, but more steady and reliable.  Kai was less mature and more volatile, and I liked the differences between them and how they complimented each other nicely.  It was great to see this grow and develop not only in the narration but also in the past letters.  The letters fit nicely into the world Peterfreund built for us.

And what a world it is.  I loved the backstory of genetic manipulation and uncertainty about the world.  It fit well into making a futuristic world that had science and yet didn't choose to use it, something that many authors try to create and fail at.  Rather than use dry paragraphs telling about the new world Peterfreund expertly used characters to show what the world was, from Reductionist Ro and her amazing abilities for her kind to the Luddite Baron North and his disdain for the Reductionists and "CoR"s on his farm.  In fact, if I had to find something wrong with this story it's that the worldbuilding is so amazing I'm disappointed to know that there's nothing more coming from it.  Peterfreund has said that this is definitely a one-off, and yet I really want to know what is beyond the islands and what is found on the long voyage.

I will caution readers that there's no deep meaning to the story.  It seems as if it could be a treatise on the dangers of science and genetics, or how we need to take caution with our experiments, or how science can fix what it hurts, or even where the line should be drawn between religion and science in lawmaking; but in the end Elliot seems to flip back and forth between beliefs before she seems to throw her hands up in the air and ignore the whole issue.  I don't know if this is good or bad, I was left wanting a bit more but it is a hard subject to have a definite "side" to fall on.

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