Book Review: Across a Star-Swept Sea

Across a Star-Swept Sea (For Darkness Shows the Stars #2)
Published By: Balzer & Bray
Publication Date: October 15, 2013
Page Count: 464
Source: Kindly Provided by Publisher
Audience: Young Adult - Science Fiction

This novel is not a direct sequel to the first novel, but previous characters do make an appearance. I was hoping for a direct sequel since I loved Elliot and Kai so much, but I was happy to find that I enjoyed Persis and Justen just as much.

Persis Blake is a socialite from a wealthy family and the best friend of the princess of Albion. She spends her days discussing fashion, receiving spa treatments, and being a silly girl, but secretly she is the greatest spy her country has ever known - the Wild Poppy. As her alter-ego, Persis saves those who are being treated horribly by their government on the neighboring island of Galatea. This novel was inspired by The Scarlet Pimpernel, a classic that I have yet to read. I am familiar with the basic plot of the classic and I was able to see its influence on Persis' story. I also kept comparing the revolution in Galatea to the French Revolution. In the French Revolution, the wealthy were often targeted by the peasant masses. Many of these people had committed atrocities against their countrymen, but innocents were also pulled into the violence. In addition, I also kept thinking of Lauren Willig's novels (highly recommend those if you haven't read them). 

I also really enjoyed Justen Helo. He is struggling with some events from his past which lead him to flee his home and take refuge in Albion. While there, he must pretend to be in love with Persis. He finds her to be silly and preoccupied with all the wrong sorts of things. He doesn't care about wealth and fashion. He simply wants to right his wrongs and help those who suffer. As time progresses, Justen learns that Persis is not all she seems to be and he finds that he is intrigued by her. The relationship between these two was gradual and realistic. Their feelings seemed more genuine than some other YA couples as a result. There also were some Pride and Prejudice moments between Justen and Persis; I loved watching relationships of that nature unfold.

In addition to enjoying the characters and plot, I am still in awe of the creativity that Peterfreund exhibits in this series. The world that she creates in New Pacifica is lush and magical. I find that even though she uses classic novels for inspiration, she is able to add a unique spin to the story. I love that this novel reads like a blend of historical fiction, classic literature, and science fiction. There are so many beautiful, intricate details in this one. The complexity is a nice change from the typical and predictable. I loved comparing and contrasting this society with the one presented in the first novel.

One Last Gripe: I felt like some parts of the exposition were a little slow.

My Favorite Thing About This Book: I love the commentary on gender and social class that runs throughout this story.

First Sentence: If the Wild Poppy dared return to Galatea, Citizen Cutler was ready.

Favorite Character: Persis

Least Favorite Character: Vania

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.

In this thrilling adventure inspired by The Scarlet Pimpernel, Diana Peterfreund creates an exquisitely rendered world where nothing is as it seems and two teens with very different pasts fight for a future only they dare to imagine.


  1. This book & the relationship sound lovely. I have it on my TBR pile. Soon....

  2. I love reading books with great world-building! And I guess Across a Star-Swept sea is something I would dearly enjoy. Added this on my TBR-pile :) Thanks for sharing Lark Andrea :)


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