Monday, October 22, 2012

Review: For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

From Goodreads: 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. 

My Rating: 4.5 hearts

Thoughts on the Novel: I’m not normally a fan of slow-paced dystopians. But, I ended up loving For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund because of its worldbuilding, characters and romance. A retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion set in a dystopian setting, I also liked For Darkness Shows the Stars because it simultaneously managed to retain the feel of a Victorian Era novel.

When reading dystopians not set in an alternative world, I usually find myself wondering how the world came to be the way the author imagines it for their story. Often, the backstory sounds rather incredulous. That wasn’t the case for For Darkness Shows the Stars because it’s not hard to imagine a group of people deciding to isolate themselves and stop using technology after seeing war break out and most of the world’s population be eradicated due to advances in technology and genetics.

Most of the characters in For Darkness Shows the Stars were well-developed as well. I especially liked Elliot who chooses duty over love, knowing that she’s the only one who can intercede with her father on behalf of the Posts’ working on her family's land. When Kai later comes back resolved to make Elliot rue the decision that broke his heart (and hers), she handles his aloofness and insults with remarkable grace. Based on her actions, she’s definitely one of the most mature YA protagonists I’ve encountered!

I also enjoyed the way Peterfreund chose to depict the romance between Kai and Elliot. Throughout the book, letters written by a young Kai and Elliot chronicle their relationship from friends to the possibility of something more. The innocence displayed in those letters was definitely a nice contrast against their current tense relationship and made it easier for me to see Kai as a complex character.

A fantastic standalone with a romance that had me invested despite the lack of a kiss, For Darkness Shows the Stars was released by Balzer + Bray in June 2012. 

Comments About the Cover: I think the cover is pretty. However, the dress looks a little fancy for a Luddite, especially for one who's responsible for managing an estate.


  1. Aww no kiss? ;) Actually, quite a few of my favourite romances this year have been very subtle and I think I sort of prefer that at times. This book sounds fantastic! I still need to pick up my copy! Great review. :)

    1. Sorry for trolling, but come by my blog for a chance to win a signed copy - and to read an interview with main character Elliot North!

  2. Eeeek I've been waiting to get hold of this one! Great review :) Nice to see an understated romance as opposed to everything else you see at the moment. I like that it is a perfectly plausible storyline as well!

  3. Jane Austen's Persuasion in a dystopian setting is not something one can miss. I'm so happy it worked well for you, I'm absolutely sure it will for me too. I just need to find some time, darn it!
    Wonderful review!

  4. YEAH Z!!!! So glad you loved this one too! Normally slow paced novels (dystopian or otherwise) are a huge challenge for me, but this story just unfolded so beautifully I thought:) I'm with you on the world-building, though we didn't get a ton of history on how this world came to be, it was easy to imagine how they got there so my mind was still given answers even if they weren't clearly spelled out. Gorgeous review!

  5. I'd been looking forward to this book long before it was published, but I guess I've forgotten about it the moment it was published. :|

    I'm not fond of slow-paced books in general, but DAT ROMANCE! Z, I am so loving the sound of it!

  6. After all that build up, there's no kiss? Aww, that's a bit disappointing but I really do love the sound of this book. I've read Persuasion a really long time ago, but I do remember liking it. I hope to read this one soon. Awesome review, Z!

  7. Guess what? I’m not normally a fan of slow-paced dystopians, either, but Persuasion is my favorite Austen novel, seriously, and the letters sound too enticing. I love love letters. But come on! NO KISSING? That's just plain cruel. How am I supposed to get my kicks?

    Congrats on meeting your GR challenge! I'm way behind on mine. LOL

  8. Anonymous9:10 pm

    Really nice review, hon. :) Although many readers have declared that reading Persuasion was an absolute MUST, I still haven't done so even after loving both Emma and Pride & Prejudice. Anyways, my point! This book sounds incredible and your review is really convincing, so I'll certainly be reading this to get in the "mood" for Persuasion (or any other classic book I've been neglecting, ha!)

  9. YES, so glad you loved this one, too! I completely agree about appreciating that it still managed to maintain a Victorian Era feel even with a dystopian setting - I thought that was pretty impressive. And I felt the exact same way about Elliot - I truly admired her maturity. From what I understand, her character in Persuasion isn't quite so likeable; I was thinking about watching the movie so that I could compare the two!

  10. I've wanted to read this ever since I first heard about it. And I do love Jane Austen so I'm sure that I will read this one day soon.

  11. Great review Z. I've been looking forward to reading this and you make it sound like it will be worth it. But no kiss, aww...

  12. I'm so glad you enjoyed this one! While I loved the world Peterfreund had created, I wasn't impressed by the love story since Persuasion, the novel his is based on, is my FAVORITE Jane Austen romance, so I was bound to be disappointed. Still, fantastic review! :D

  13. I have been hesitating about reading this for some reason--I even returned the ARC on tour from a friend!--but this is what sold it for me in your review: " it simultaneously managed to retain the feel of a Victorian Era novel." I adore the Victorian era and I wondered about the dystopian setting, but I definitely have to read this soon. Great review.

  14. Great review! I just posted mine as well - it's a lovely book, isn't it? I totally felt that lack of a kiss, too, though!

    Sorry for trolling, but come by my blog for a chance to win a signed copy - and to read an interview with main character Elliot North!


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