Release Date: June 2012
Publisher: HarperCollins | Balzar + Bray
Pages: 402 pages
Series: For Darkness Shows the Stars #1
Source & Format: Bought; Kindle ebook
Amazon | Goodreads
Summary (from Amazon)
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.
Thoughts on For Darkness Shows the Stars
I am a self-confessed Jane Austen addict. I just can't help it, and my addiction has often led me to pick up crazy retellings, sequels or re-workings (that often just don't work). For Darkness Shows the Stars is inspired by Austen's Persuasion, so it's obviously right up my alley. But, the truth is, I wasn't going to read it. The blurb just didn't appeal to me. I've read so many bad books inspired by Austen that I'm more wary of which ones I try these days. Then, I started seeing a lot of great reviews for this book, including this one from April at Good Books and Good Wine. If April loves it, I feel like I must read it.
AND I LOVED IT! This is the complete opposite of a bad Austen retelling, y'all.
I know a lot of reviewers have focused on the swoon, the world building, the characters, and I'll mention all of that soon. First, I just want to talk about how this is the best kind of Austen-inspired book. So many of them just recycle Austen's plot in a modern setting, or they try to re-create her characters in the world they've created. Usually, it's a major fail. In books like those, the characters and story are just imitations, knock offs, and hardly deserve to be associated with the real thing.
What Peterfreund has done, however, is develop rich, complex characters. They have histories, a backstory, fears and feelings. Yes, they are inspired by their Austen counterparts, but they aren't dependent on them. They are exciting characters, even if you haven't read Persuasion. They don't need Perusasion to exist on the page because they exist in their own right, if that makes sense.
Now, let's talk about this world. It deserves a ton of praise. It's interesting, different, and unlike anything I've read before. However, even in this seemingly post-apocalyptic setting, it's like you can still recognize Regency England. The class system, the rigidity of manners and doing what's expected... it's all there. I loved that part of this book! You could see how Persuasion was woven throughout, but it was done in a caring and thoughtful way. Peterfreund doesn't just lift from the original. You can tell she studied it, learning its nuances, and used it to inspire her own work.
The best part of this book is that you don't need to have read Persuasion to appreciate it. The story is exciting, compelling and engaging all on its own merits. But, if you have read Persuasion, I think you'll only appreciate the story more. The richness and depth of For Darkness Shows the Stars will help you appreciate the work that inspired it all the more.
"In every letter, in every line, she saw him. He hadn't changed - he'd only grown into the man he'd meant to be."
"Most of all: thank you, Jane Austen. Thank you for making me fall off the couch at sixteen as I thrilled to Mr. Darcy's first, horrible proposal; for making me blush if Mr. Knightley so much as took Emma's hand; and for making me cry every single time I read Captain Wentworth's letter to Anne. Thank you for creating these characters and these situations, for giving generations of mothers and daughters endless topics of conversation, for writing strong women and true love and happy endings. Thank you for giving me the bones of this story, and forgive me for the changes I've made to its DNA." *From the Acknowledgements