Thursday, September 19, 2013

Book Review: For Darkness Shows the Stars

For Darkness Shows the Stars
Published By: Balzer & Bray
Publication Date: June 2012
Page Count: 402
Source: Purchased by Reviewer
Audience: Young Adult - Science Fiction

I was lucky enough to snag an advanced copy of the second book in this series. This one had been sitting on my kindle patiently waiting its turn since its release date. I decided it was time to shake the dust from its pages and give it a go. I also love being able to jump from one book in a series right into the next one. I'm certainly looking forward to the next novel, Across A Star-Swept Sea. I'm starting it next so be sure to stop by next week for that review.

One of the things I loved most about reading this one was the fascinating world Peterfreund creates. This society is set in the distance future after a tragic event, the Reduction, forever alters the course of humanity. The Luddites, a society that believes the Reduction was caused by technology, holds tightly to the belief that man should not interfere with God. The Luddites believe that by advancing technology in things like medicine and bio-engineered crops, that humans brought about their own destruction. Luddites manage to survive, but many do not. Once the shock waves pass, the world is segmented. Islands exist without contact with other parts of the world. The Luddites rule and the Reduced become their laborers. Over time a new group rises, the Posts, who will change the way society views the social caste system. The Posts are not Luddites, but they are far more advanced than the Reduced.

I know my explanation of the society is meager at best, but it is best experienced first hand. Peterfreund is much more eloquent about explaining the nuances of this society. I couldn't help comparing it to the antebellum south. The Luddites are very similar to the southern planter aristocracy. The treatment of the Reduced and Posts was also reminiscent of the way slaves were often treated during the antebellum era. For example, slaves were not allowed to marry without permission. The Reduced as well as many of the Posts who still live on estates are also denied this right. Another similarity is the desire to escape from the life of bondage. I'm interested to see if other readers notice these historical parallels. 

Furthermore, the treatment of women in this society is another intriguing element. The Luddite women are often seen as frivolous fixtures, but not taken seriously. This is frustrating for Elliot, the main character, because she does have a keen intellect and keeps her estate running. Gender issues in YA novels always provide some food for thought. I love that in spite of the strict social hierarchy that there are several strong female characters. Elliot, Andromeda, and Felicia are truly awe inspiring.

The characters truly make this novel shine. Elliot and Kai are complex and realistic characters. Their relationship is one that is shrouded in history and emotion. I loved watching things unravel between them. I never knew for sure what was going to happen. I'm also a sucker of the whole star crossed lovers thing and the fact that these two come from different social classes just added a little bit of sugar and spice for me. Novels that do a beautiful job of creating the tension from a forbidden relationship are always favorites of mine. Peterfreund is a master in this arena.

I also loved that this novel was inspired by Jane Austen's Persuasion. While I have not read that particular Austen work, I am a big fan of her other novels. I hope to read Persuasion soon and then return to this one to see if I can track down all the allusions.

Lastly, Peterfreund's use of language is gorgeous. Her descriptions of her imaginative world result in vivid mental pictures. There is beauty in this novel. It is one of the most thought provoking and literary YA novels I have had the pleasure of reading recently.


One Last Gripe: I did find myself slightly frustrated by Kai and Olivia.

My Favorite Thing About This Book: I loved that there were so many historical connections. I am not sure if those were intentional or of my own creation, but I highly enjoyed them nonetheless.

First Sentence: Dear Kai, My name is Elliot, and I am six years old and live in the big house.

Favorite Character: Elliot

Least Favorite Character: Elliot's Father



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.

20 comments:

  1. I absolutely adored this book! I hadn't read Persuasion either, even if I've read quite a few Jane Austen books, but I could absolutely see where the nuances of the original book could play.

    I'm so excited to get my hands in the companion book! Can't wait to hear what you think of it.

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    1. I found it to be such a refreshing change from most YA. It was so well done. I hope to dive into the next one this weekend.

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  2. Great review hon! I just finished this one a couple weeks ago and I agree with most of your points :D I found myself wanting to slap Kai quite a few times *rolling of my eyes* I mean...COME ON!!!
    Happy reading
    Jackie

    http://nobentspines.blogspot.com/

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    1. Kai is one of those characters who is likable and infuriating at the same time!

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  3. URG - I know I had an e-ARC of the next novel, but it's not on my Kindle and I am unable to redownload it from Edelweiss. I suppose I'll have to wait until it comes out to read it.

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  4. I'm always drawn to novels that have such vivid and descriptive writing. I have this on my iPad, dying to be read, but there's so mcuh other books I have to get through. Anyways, great review!

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    1. I understand the predicament that comes from a daunting TBR list. I would recommend making time for this one. It's gorgeous and intriguing.

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  5. This was such a surprising read for me! I didn't expect to enjoy it that much. Boy was I surprised. Now I just need the companion!

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    1. I was nervous about reading this one too, but I was pleasantly surprised by it. Peterfreund's writing is some of the best I've seen in YA. The sequel is wonderful too. ;)

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  6. This novel sounds everything that is lovely. I must read this series.

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    1. The writing in this series is gorgeous. I highly recommend it.

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  7. You're right - the world was so complex but real.

    The romance was good too:)

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    1. I agree - the romance was realistic and swoon worthy.

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  8. sounds like a great book + stunning cover :D

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    1. It's a beautiful cover, but the story far outshines the cover.

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  9. I love a good strong female character, especially when everything is against her. Thanks for the the review.

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  10. I'm just curious, do we need to read the first book before this book? If not, do you recommend reading the first book before this one?

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  11. Sounds like amazing book...it need go to my wishlist.
    Read Persuasion, is great like others book of Austen :)

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  12. Sounds like amazing book...it need go to my wishlist.
    Read Persuasion, is great like others book of Austen :)

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  13. This book sound really good!!! Great review! Can't wait to get this one! :D

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