Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Review: For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

Title: For Darkness Shows the Stars
Author: Diana Peterfreund
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: 12th June 2012
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Description: 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.

For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund is a beautiful love story between childhood friends, set in a world where the future is full of unexpected possibilities. I am an immense fan of reading sweeping love stories that capture the entire heart and this story completely manages to be captivating and heartbreaking at the same time. It was a pleasure to watch Elliot and Kai find each other despite all the hurdles between them. Peterfreund weaves a mesmerising tale, which explores hopeless love, sacrifice, freedom, duty and the consequences of one’s choices.

For Darkness Shows the Stars was inspired by Jane Austen’s Persuasion. I have not read Persuasion so I do not know how much source material Diana Peterfreund used but I immensely enjoyed this book on its own merit. For Darkness Shows the Stars has wonderful science fiction elements. Its set in a post apocalyptic society where genetic engineering has caused radical changes in humans leading to a reduction of society. The only people free from reduction are those who chose not to undergo any genetical enhancements and survived to become the Luddite and consequently leaders to the people that have become reduced. It has become the responsibility of the Luddite to take care of those reduced and provide for them. Elliot is a Luddite. She has always had a duty to the reduced under her care on her family’s property.  She grows up with Kai who works for her family and is part of the reduced community. Kai asks her to run away with him but Elliot refuses knowing that the farm needs her. Years later Kai returns as part of the Cloud Fleet and Elliot has to come to terms with the man that has returned and what the future has in store for her.

This is a thought-provoking book. The book is set in a world on the brink of change, and it provides a lovely commentary about change and revolutionarily ideals. It also explores duty versus desire, what a person wants and dreams compared to what they are bound by duty to accomplish. There is also a lot of discussion between characters themselves and within Elliot herself about the consequences of mankind having too much power with scientific advancements and opportunity. Is having too much power mean that you are playing god and going against nature? Its something that Elliot struggles with because of all the traditions she has been bought up with. The scientist in me loved the sci fi nature of this book, and I would love to learn the specifics behind the experiments that lead to the reduction.

This isn’t a simple straightforward romantic tale. It’s complicated and rife with conflict and tension that spans over years. Kai and Elliot are two different sorts of people. In order to reconcile their differences they go on a journey to explore what lines they are willing to cross and what they are willing to sacrifice. There are letters present at the start of the chapters that Kai and Elliot have written each other over the years. They added so much value to this story. They provided great insight into the characters dreams and their feelings about the society they inhabit.  You could also see these characters becoming friends and gradually falling in love, as they grew older. Their backs story helps create context for all the conflict and distance that has built up between them.  I really wanted Kai and Elliot to get their happy ending together.

Elliot was someone that I respected. She was faced with the responsibility of taking care of the farm and reduced and she makes the best she can out of a bad situation and a father who opposes her actions at every turn. She’s a great heroine that fights hard for the people under her care and does not give up. She has a lot of strength in her that she doesn’t notice she processes. Kai was a hard to get to know in the beginning with him being rude and unforgiving to Elliot. But the letters help us to know him better and he improves as the story unfolds and we get to see what Kai is really like. Ro was a sweet character full of life. The Cloud Fleet were an interesting contrast to the Luddite with their new ideals.

For Darkness Shows the Stars is a mesmerising romantic story set in a world that is changing very rapidly. Simply wonderful.

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