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Fans of Divergent will love Diana Peterfreund’s take on Jane Austen’s Persuasion set in a post-apocalyptic world.
 
In the dystopian future of For Darkness Shows the Stars, a genetic experiment has devastated humanity. In the aftermath, a new class system placed anti-technology Luddites in absolute power over vast estates—and any survivors living there.
 
Elliot North is a dutiful Luddite and a dutiful daughter who runs her father’s estate. When the boy she loved, Kai, a servant, asked her to run away with him four years ago, she refused, although it broke her heart.
 
Now Kai is back. And while Elliot longs for a second chance with her first love, she knows it could mean betraying everything she’s been raised to believe is right.
 
For Darkness Shows the Stars is a breathtaking YA romance about opening your mind to the future and your heart to the one person you know can break it.

Topics: Dystopia, Post-Apocalyptic, Genetic Engineering, First Love, Futuristic, Adventurous, Speculative Fiction, First in a Series, and Far Future

Published: HarperCollins on
ISBN: 9780062114372
List price: $9.99
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I didn’t expect much from this, truthfully. I had read the author’s unicorn books (well, one and a half of them) and hadn’t really gotten into them. Then I heard it was loosely based on Persuasion and decided to check it out, which is a little ironic since that’s one of the Austen books I haven’t read. Now I want to, though. The novel has an interesting structure—the narrative goes along, and then there will be letters between Kai, the worker boy on the farm, and Elliot, the privileged daughter of the owner of the farm. They were friends since childhood until he decided he couldn’t stand it there anymore. She couldn’t run away with him, and that was the last she saw of him. She thought. While her father and older sister are supposed to be running the farm, Elliot is actually the one doing all the work, and a little more. She has been trying to genetically modify wheat so it will produce more, ensuring their workers won’t go hungry and possibly even having a little left over to sell. Her family is Luddite, as are all the landowners, and such meddling is prohibited. Her father discovers it and plows it under to keep anyone else from finding out—he’s going to put in a race track. Knowing they desperately need money, Elliot looks through her father’s correspondence and finds a letter from a well known adventurer, looking to rent the dock her grandfather owns for however long it takes for them to build a new ship. Elliot completes the rental agreement, even though it means moving her grandfather out of the only home he’s ever lived in to make room for the new tenants. Elliot’s grief, frustration, and disbelief at her father and sister’s behaviors are completely convincing. All of the characters, even those with minor roles, are fleshed out just enough to make them believable and real. Elliot truly does care for the people who work for her family, but her view has always been from the view of being the privileged one. When their new tenants arrive, Elliot is at a complete loss at the identity of one of the Captains. Ultimately, this is a story about moving forward and forgiveness, both on a personal and a technological level. The acceptance of things beyond our realm of imagination. The door-stopper stubbornness of the hero, as in the Austen novels, to do anything to indicate his true feelings that makes you want to whack him over the head with a broom—see, the writing really does pull you into the story, when you want to start hitting characters with cleaning implements. Not that Elliot isn’t stubborn herself. There is just enough detail to make everything seem real—to get really angry at the “bad” guys and cheer the “good” guys on.more
Absolutely FANTABULOUS!........I loved everything about this book. I recommend it to Jane Austen lovers, Romance readers and those looking for a well written entertaining story. One of the best I've read this year. I will definitely read and reread this story for years to come.more
This was a dystopian/post-apocalyptic take on Jane Austen's Persuasion. I am not a big Austen fan, so I have not read this one. I don't know what the original is about so I didn't have any preconceived notions on this.As much as the dysoptian/post-apocalyptic genres are worn out for me, I didn't mind this one. I really liked Elliot North's character and found myself rooting for her the entire time. She is raised on an estate during the time when slavery has made it's way back into the picture thanks to geneticists. As society moved forward and attempted to make perfect human beings, of course something went wrong and they created a whole generation or more of a group of people who needed land owners to take care of them.Elliot is left to run her estate after her mother passed away as her father and older sister want nothing to do with the actual running of things or working in general.One of the workers from her estate and Elliot's childhood best friend, Kai, has made a reappearance in her life after being gone for several years. She is not ready to face him or the feelings she still has for him. She also quickly learns that he has a secret that could change or possibly ruin the society that Elliot has come to know and understand.more
More of a 3.5. Bumped up since I love Persuasion that much.more
I’ve complained about Jane Austen-inspired works in the past, namely that most of them seem to miss the point Austen was trying to make and SHE WROTE MORE THAN ONE BOOK. So, my interest was piqued when Diana Peterfreund announced this book. Post-apocalyptic Jane Austen retelling? Of Persuasion, of all things? I am intrigued.

What I’m automatically loving about this book is that the post-apocalyptic society in this actually feels a lot more plausible than the vast majority. There’s no deep dark secret behind the set-up, there’s no evil overlords out to squash teenage hormones, there’s no rebellions. It’s just a story about a bittersweet romance that happens to take place after the end and that while there are changes happening in society, it’s more of the result of human progression, rather than uncovering vast conspiracies. Even the people who disapprove feel more like they’re criticizing the new world because society’s changing. I really like this, if only because this feels more like the natural human reaction to anything “new” and the times they are a’changing. Even the revelations that are supposed to be earth-shattering aren’t really in the larger context in this universe. I like this concept. It’s different from the endless uprisings and rebellions that have been so prevalent, and it’s nice to get something different once in a while.

That said, I do have an issue with the fallout of the apocalypse in this verse, namely the Reduced. The idea that the “intelligent” people are in charge of the mentally retarded and treating like free labor does make me feel uncomfortable. Also not helping is that Elliot treats one girl in particular, Ro, like her own personal morality pet. However, most of the Luddites and Elliot get routinely called out for their attitudes and treatment of the Reduced. It’s not an ideal situation, but that it’s pointed out that there are massive flaws in the system is good.

I like Elliot. First of all, she’s genuinely questioning the limitations of her society, not because she wants to rebel and be special, but the circumstances have driven her to find new methods. She’s got a whole estate on her shoulders with a frivolous family, and a hard winter is coming. And I like that Elliot’s experiments are largely the result of basic genetic manipulation. And yet she still doubts if what she’s doing is right. Elliot manages to be proud without being a bitch or too haughty, and when she does, it’s only under certain circumstances.

Kai is certainly the dashing gentleman snarker, but I think it takes the book a little too long into making him more sympathetic. There is a very strong sense of betrayal still lingering, but it works with the lifetime of prejudice that Kai’s dealt with. I also love that we get to see Kai and Elliot’s relationship build through a series of interspersed letters from when they were children, up to Kai’s disappearance. It gives enough of the backstory without feeling too info-dumpy and does a good job of illustrating the prejudices and the classism.

The supporting cast is good. Like I said, I do have issues with most of the Reduced and Post-Reduced characters of the North estate, mainly that they really feel like they exist to be there for Elliot to take care of. The Phoenix siblings are initially aloof and hard to warm up to, but once they get more of their backstory explained, and their prejudices (Andromeda’s, particularly) are lessened, they’re very strong characters. (Also, I love Andromeda, she’s awesome.) I love the Innovations, as they’re probably the most complex characters, even with the few details that are revealed about them. I also really liked the Groves, especially Olivia. She does start off a bratty clingy jealous girl, but she turns out to be very sweet and just a little too naïve.

And I also really liked how well the Regency principles fit into this society. It’s not as restrictive as proper Regency society, but the isolation of the different Luddite families and the pageantry of the upper classes really fits well. It works very well into the expectation that Elliot and her sister are expected to marry rather than inherit the various estates.

As I’ve been saying, this is not the action-packed dystopia that’s found on so many YA shelves (mine included), but rather a very introspective love story that happens to take place in a post-apocalyptic society. That’s the reason why I really enjoyed this book. It’s well-written and it’s got a sweeping romance. It’s a breath of fresh air in a very trendy setting, and I highly recommend checking it out.
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I read Peterfreund’s Rampant previously and enjoyed that book. I was interested to see what she would write in a sci-fi setting. Unfortunately while this book is beautifully written, it is incredibly slow and not much happens throughout the book. This is supposed to be a sort of sci-fi telling of Persuasion.This story is about an eighteen year old girl named Elliot who is struggling to run her father’s farm. She is part of a society of people called Luddites who are against technology. When a tech-based apocalyptic event happens they end up surviving a catastrophe and becoming the wealthy part of society. When younger she was friends with a Post named Kai, who left to find his fortune elsewhere.One part of this book I really did enjoy was the chapters that consisted of letters Elliot and Kai had written to each other when they were younger. About every third or fourth chapter consisted of these letters. They were entertaining to read and gave an excellent glimpse into this society.The world building in this book is excellent. You have whole society based on the fact that because of technological tampering part of the world was Reduced, or basically unable to function as normal human beings. Then there are the Posts, these are people born to Reduced parents who are able to function as normal humans. Lastly there are the Luddites, who have basically ruled society since the Reduction. It’s a very interesting world and discusses both the positives and negatives of genetic enhancement. Elliot is a hard character to love. She’s run a tough road even with her high social status. Throughout the book her viewpoint sounds more like that of a worn out forty year old than that of an eighteen year. To be honest reading about her made me feel tired and sad. She has taken on so much responsibility, suffers so much, and is constantly abused for it. She is tired, she is hopeless, and she is struggling to help the Posts on her farm survive.Kai is also a hard character to love. He took off and left Elliot behind to find a fortune of his own. He blames her for staying on the farm even knowing that many Posts would suffer if she were to leave her responsibilities behind. He is mean, disrespectful, and spiteful to Elliot throughout most of the book. It is only through their letters to each other that you get a glimpse into the friendship Kai and Elliot once had.This book reads more like a Southern Plantation romance than a sci-fi novel. The majority of the book is about Elliot’s struggles to run the North farm in light of her father’s abuse and horrible decision making. It is also about Elliot and Kai trying to come to peace with what they have become over their time apart. Additionally it is also about the Posts on the farm and the lives they are trying to have while working in almost slave-like conditions.Very little actually happens in this book. Elliot whines about her responsibilities and moons over Kai. Kai avoids and insults Elliot. As a reader we read mostly about day to day how the North farm is run and the problems they encounter. It is beautifully written, but the pace is incredibly slow.I did enjoy the tidbits we are feed about the history of this world and about the genetic modifications that are starting to happen again. Peterfreund doesn’t go into great detail on these topics but they are there and add some interest to the book. I did really enjoy the last couple chapters of the book, things pick up the pace and are much more intriguing.Overall an okay read. There are a lot of interesting ideas presented in this novels that I liked. Unfortunately I had trouble engaging with the characters, and found our heroine Elliot to be so downtrodden that she was incredibly depressing to read about. While the book has an interesting premise, not much happens. Things move very slowly and in the end it reads more like a book about Southern Plantations and slavery than a sci-fi novel. At this point I am unsure whether or not I will read the next book in this series.more
Loved it! For me, the fun of reading this novel what knowing that, as in Persuasion, everything with work itself out in the end *and* to my satisfaction. I enjoyed being immersed in this new universe, old/new technologies, rules and all, with the old characterizations.more
This book has received some rave reviews so I've had it on my TBR list for quite some time. It's not a perfect book, but this was one of those rare books that even with its flaws, I LOVED. So I'm giving it 4.5 stars.For the Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund is marketed as a retelling of Jane Austen's famous Persuasion (and quotes are interspersed within section headings of the book) in a dystopian YA world. I admit I haven't read Persuasion, but I really enjoyed this book. We are introduced to Elliot, who has been named for her grandfather, and at a young age has had to take over a large load of responsibilities at her farm. She loves her grandfather but he has been continually becoming more senile, and she fights against her father who is rigid and many times cruel to the Reduced (mentally disabled group of people who "played with genetic fire" and now have become a slave population) who work on their farm. There is another group emerging called the Posts, children of the Reduced who have regained intelligence but because of their birthright still remain slaves. Kai is one of them, Elliot's childhood sweetheart, who has dodged all odds, escaped the farm, and made a name for himself. After four years, he's suddenly back in her life, and now Elliot wages an internal war between responsibility to those she loves and freedom to be with the man she loves.It's all more complicated than that of course, but there are some really amazing twists that the reader must discover for himself or herself. I admit it. I loved this book. It's rare for me to clutch a book and be so moved that I linger on every page and can't let go. Most of that is because of Peterfreund's lyrical prose and also Elliot herself. She is an amazing character-- she knows what is right and that guides her to stand up for people she loves. She is what makes the book sing. I was almost in tears when she was abused on so many levels but still managed to stay on top.Like I said before, this isn't a perfect book. The letters from younger Kai and Elliot are more distracting than anything else, but there's a reason that I decided I'm okay with this decision, and that is because of what Peterfreund does at the end of the book. Also, Kai is kind of a douche bag, and Elliot is so amazing that I don't think he is anywhere good enough for her. There's a reason he's angry, and it doesn't seem a good enough reason to be so cruel at times. Lastly, I felt like there were some ethical issues that were just really open ended, and I am not sure how they could be reconciled, but I would have liked more discussion between Elliot and Felicia (who knows a lot) to help clarify things at least.However, even with these issues, the gorgeous prose and the terrific protagonist swept me away. You should take a look at this book.more
When anyone asks me what my favorite Jane Austen novel is, I always say Northanger Abbey is my favorite for the humor, Persuasion is my favorite for the love story, and Pride and Prejudice is my favorite of both combined. Anne Elliott and Captain Wentworth are very dear to my heart, so I was a little leery reading this book. And I had good cause to be. Making the characters teenagers, and making their long separation 4 years from when they were 14, just didn't pack the punch of the real Persuasion and was just kind of uncomfortable and a little creepy. I also didn't really understand the world the author built. It was either never explained completely, or at least I didn't get it. The ending was getting incredibly exciting and scary, and then suddenly all the bad people went away and things fell into place. It was ridiculously contrived. This book is a very clean read. No language, no sexual content, mature themes of birthing houses and illusions to things that happen to young children who run away. Nothing graphic.more
This book was so confusing in the beginning. There were so many things brought up, like the reduction, that weren't really explained until later. But, once I got passed that, I really loved this story. This story is based off of Jane Austen's Persuasion, which I have never read before so I can't say anything about the two together. But For Darkness Shows the Stars was such a 'sit on the edge of your seat' kind of love story, that I couldn't help but be glued to the book. I loved Elliot and Kai. They are both such interesting, strong characters that I can't help but love them, even when they're both being ridiculous and not talking to each other.more
This was one of the books that just catches hold of you and you can't put down. I liked the idea behind it and the characters are interesting. Some plot points are a little too convenient, but it was still a very enjoyable read.more
I am bound to judge any story that uses Persuasion pretty harshly. I can't help myself; I'm a huge Persuasion fan, and there haven't been enough adaptations of it to dull my senses to the inconsistencies yet. So it's a risk - as much as I look forward to stories that make use of it, there's a good chance that I just won't be able to let things go. I think I probably was harder on this that I would have been if it didn't use Persuasion and instead was just another dystopian YA. But it was inevitable that I would judge it harshly - though even then, I couldn't help but love it.It was unputdownable. It had that indefinable something working for it, and the heart of it, the way it mirrored Persuasion but adapted to fit a wholly different environment, was really compelling to me. There were always parts of me saying, Anne wouldn't say what Elliot just said, Anne wouldn't do what Elliot just did - but then I'd catch myself thinking, but she would feel it... And that was why it worked. No, Elliot is not a carbon copy of Anne. She has Anne's basic traits (she's loyal, she's smart, reliable, and compassionate, and everyone pushes her around), but she is also a product of her environment, and the two work together to create a character that strongly resembles Anne (is very Anne-like), but is also her own creation. I really have to applaud Peterfreund for being able to balance the two so well. The story is at once a clear retelling of Persuasion, and its own very different story entirely. It's not just a regurgitation of Persuasion in an exciting dystopic setting. It's its own creation, and though there are these changes in the core of who the characters are, I think for the most part, they're suited to the story Peterfreund created. It feels more "inspired by" than a straight retelling. I think you can really tell how much Peterfreund likes Persuasion and Austen, and respects her source material, and that's part of what really makes it work as a whole.That isn't to say there weren't things that bothered me, or that didn't work from a retelling standpoint. Because this is written for YA, the timing doesn't have the same impact. In Persuasion, Anne and Wentworth fall in love and are separated when Anne is 19, and then meet again nearly a decade later. Moving up the timetable to suit a YA audience means that Elliot and Kai are separated at 14 and come together again at 18, and I have never been enough of a romantic that I would consider separated 14 year olds to be tragic lovers, and a reunion at 18 to be a triumphant return... It lessens it somehow; lessens the tragedy and the sadness of pining and being alone for almost 10 years, takes away the pain of feeling like the character will always be alone, like she's lost her only chance... It makes it all a little lighter, which is sad because there's really nothing that Peterfreund could do differently and still have it suit the audience. The way, too, that they are separated - with Elliot first of all in mourning, and second, legitimately making the right decision for everyone around her - means that it becomes a lot harder to like Kai. I did like him, don't get me wrong, but I think that was maybe only because I knew who he was supposed to be, and how he was going to turn out. Otherwise, I think I would have found him really callous and almost cruel, both in the manner and timing of their separation, and in his treatment of Elliot on his return.Other things that niggled at me: It feels like the beginning to a series. I don't think it will be, but that's just because I know it is a retelling. If I picked this up just as a sci-fi read, I'd be sure it was going to be a trilogy. There's so much that feels like it could still be explored, and for all of the doom and gloom of the situation, and Elliot's internal debates over what's right and what the future should hold, things are far too easily wrapped up once she's (re)secured Kai's affections; in fact, the entire book ends too abruptly for me, with it feeling like Elliot is being rash, and a number of characters being ushered quickly off the stage... Also, I didn't like the letters that begin and punctuate the book. I got used to them, and I like what Elliot did with them, and the knothole, etc., but the letters themselves felt forced on the story to me, and they didn't work as a way to draw me into the story.See? See how nitpicky this all turned out, when I really do want to push this book into everyone's hands? Ugh, okay: Despite my obsessive attention to this as a Persuasion retelling, and my too-harsh judgement as a result (because I have to, I can't not, it's one of my all-time faves), Peterfreund crafted a really compelling story that:a) is one of the most unique Austen adaptations I've ever read. And I mean unique in a good way - P&P&Z was "unique" too, but my god, was it ever terrible. This is both unique and functioning as a story, compelling and interesting, very very different from other adaptations, but showcasing the same love of the original as the best adaptations do.b) works both as a retelling and as a complete original, which I don't know I have ever said - or even thought - about any other adaptation. It can be read by fans of YA, fans of Austen, and fans of both, and each group will get something different out of it while also enjoying it for what they came to it for, adaptation or YA sci-fi (And they won't feel like they're missing anything by not being familiar with Austen and/or YA).c) presents a really interesting, engaging world with characters and conflicts that intrigued me.So yes, as much as I notice all these little things, and feel compelled to say "But wait - but what about - but then - " I really did thoroughly enjoy this and think Peterfreund did a fantastic job of making it work so very far out of the box.So get it. Read it. And enjoy it immensely with me even while we pick it apart...more
Review originally published on my blog: AWordsWorth.blogspot.comOh. My. Word. Seriously, you guys. This book was amazing. This is the Persuasion I always wanted Jane Austen to have written. Set in a world that's dramatically under-technological, generations after an apocalypse-like event that split society into castes (Reduced and Luddites), our story takes place.The basic premise is Persuasion, with Elliott North (Anne Elliott) left behind on her family farm as Kai (Wentworth) runs away to seek adventure and perchance fortune. And, as the familiar story goes, he waltzes back into her life years later, and she realizes everything she lost in not following her heart and leaving with him. But here's where the story takes a dramatic left-turn from Austen's. Elliott chose to stay on her farm. It was her choice to stay, and try her best to run the farm and protect the Reduced and Posts (children of Reduced parents who were untouched by the developmental limitations). While she wasn't always successful, her heart was in the right place, and even though she aches over the loss of Kai, she knows it was the right decision. When the Post Fleet comes and rents space to build new ships, Elliott's rocked to her core to discover that Kai - now Malakai Wentforth - is a star captain of the Fleet. Meeting Kai again in such startling (and somewhat reversed) circumstances is only the beginning of everything that happens to make Elliott start questioning everything she's ever been taught or believed. The Post Fleet brings with them many wonderful stories and objects - but also more secrets than Elliott would have ever suspected. And through it all, she's forced to face the truth of the tension between herself and Kai.The story ... the characters ... I wish my reading of Persuasion had been as enjoyable as my reading of For Darkness Shows the Stars. Where Anne Elliott got on my last nerve for being so easily swayed, and having no backbone or apparent mind of her own at all, Elliott North is keenly aware that she has made the choices that cause such aching loneliness and pain. Another wonderful development is that we get to see the history of Kai and Elliott, through the letters they exchanged throughout their childhood - and which Elliott secretly kept, and has reread to the point of memorization. By seeing these letters, interspersed through the story, we can get a sense of who Kai and Elliott were - and how they've become the mature characters they are now. It's a wonderful addition, and really helps build sympathy with both parties: you know that they had a close relationship in the past, and that their separation would have been mutually destructive.Honestly, my only real complaint is that the story ends so soon. I want more - I want to know what happens next - and can only hope that there's a sequel in the works.more
For Darkness Shows the Stars is -- wait for it -- a post-apocalyptic Jane Austen retelling. This was bound to happen eventually, right? But actually, it's not as bad as it sounds.Elliott North is a member of the post-apocalyptic society's ruling class, the Luddites. Not so many generations ago, the human race was nearly wiped out by scientific advances involving tampering with human DNA. The Luddites refused to participate in this trend for religious reasons, and so when the scientific experimentation went horribly wrong, the Luddites were the ones who survived with all of their faculties, while children of the genetically-enhanced became known as the Reduced because of their extremely limited mental capacities. These Reduced generally ended up as servants on the estates of wealthy Luddites, who control society and severely limit scientific experimentation in order to avoid falling into the trap of earlier generations. Now, in Elliott's time, some of the children born to the Reduced are known as Posts (Post-Reduction), with full mental capacities, but they are still part of the servant class. One of those Posts, Kai, grew up alongside Elliott on her estate. The two formed a friendship that eventually turned into something more -- but when Kai fled the estate, Elliott remained behind. Since her mother's death, Elliott had become the only person capable of managing the estate, while her father and sister cared only for fashion and pleasure. Then, four years after leaving the North estate, Kai returns in a company known as the Cloud Fleet. This group of Posts, lead by a man known as Captain Innovation, travel to nearby islands in search of pre-Reduction technology that the Luddites will purchase and use, and they are renting Elliott's grandfather's defunct shipyard in order to build a larger sailing vessel. Kai, now known as Malakai Wentforth, is still just as attractive to Elliott -- but he's still just as angry with her for her refusal to leave her estate. Can the two move past their misunderstanding, or is their shared history enough to keep them apart forever?Austen fans, no doubt, have already recognized the framework of Persuasion underneath this story's post-apocalyptic trappings. I'm going to admit that, while I count myself an Austen fan, I'm not one of those fans who rereads the canon every year or so and can bring to mind every minute detail. It's been more than ten years since I read Persuasion, so my knowledge of the original story did not stand in the way of my enjoyment of this book. I found it generally enjoyable, with a few minor details to quibble about. I never thought Kai's resentment of Elliott for staying behind made much sense -- he knew that she was the one holding everything together, and if she had left all of the people he grew up around would probably have starved. I also thought there were a few more loose ends at the end of the book than I would have liked -- not enough that I feel a sequel is inevitable (or even warranted), but enough to leave me a little bit unsatisfied. Still, I liked the book on the whole, and would recommend it if the premise intrigues you. Fans of Austen retellings will enjoy this if they don't mind a little added sci-fi, and those who have not read Austen's original will still be able to enjoy both the well-described dystopia and the sweet romance.more
For Darkness Shows the Stars was a book that evoked strong emotions in me. While that's a good thing that it brought that out, it was also frustrating for me as I felt so much anger and frustration it bled into my real life and that wasn't so good. However, this book was definitely a great read!It started out slow for me and I didn't have a strong urge to pick it up and read. Then all of a sudden I found I couldn't seem to put it down and I'm not sure when it occurred. Once it did I just wanted to devour it. However, it still wasn't a real fast paced book, but something held onto me and had me reading like a mad woman. Maybe it was because I was super anxious for the romance to happen.This was inspired by Persuasion by Jane Austen and I definitely felt that with the romance. And it was frustrating! Not in a bad way, though it's not really my favorite thing, waiting forever and just wishing so hard that they would figure things out much sooner, but it was nice to really feel that urge and need for more. I wanted to scream and holler at them to TALK, figure it out, and just plan your future! The world was really interesting. It took a few chapters to understand how it worked, but once I understood I thought it was pretty creative and it was easy for me to imagine something like that happening. Our technology back firing and creating the Reduced.Overall this was a great read that most definitely had me thinking. As I saw how the world became this way, and how Elliot has to suffer through so much with a father as difficult and demanding as she has and with a romance that has torn her heart apart, I really fell for this story and only wished for the best for everyone. While it's not super fast paced, and the romance wasn't my favorite style, I still found myself really enjoying the book. So if it sounds like your thing I suggest you give it a try!more
From the first pages, Peterfreund had my heart gripped in her hand. The novel begins with Elliot worrying over affairs at the estate. The family is near financial ruin, yet her father insists on living in a luxury that he cannot afford. Elliot is the only sensible member of the family and powerless to stand before her father. Despite her cleverness and the respect the Posts and Reduced on the North estate have for her, she is timid and knows not how to stand up for herself. Her devotion towards the people on the estate is integral to Elliot's character and the duty that she feels to them plays an important part in the novel.The novel is highly character driven. Elliot and Kai are childhood friends who fell in love, but they parted ways four years ago, Elliot with grave sorrow and Kai embittered. Both still remember the past with different mindsets, however, and misunderstandings and old arguments stand in the way of a happy reunion. There is little interaction in the ways of romance in this novel. Rather, it focuses on pride and self-interest. Neither Elliot nor Kai will concede to the other, fixated as they both are on their own interests. I was tormented as I wavered between viewing Kai as a jerk for refusing to admit that Elliot was right to stay behind, for not seeing the anguish she's suffered over her decision to let him go, and wanting to believe that Kai would turn out to be a good guy after all. Elliot is a strong, courageous girl, and she deserves happiness.Social mannerisms are also significant to the novel. It impacts how the characters act around different people, and it causes Elliot grief, as she cares about the people working on the North estate whereas her father is willing to let them starve so that he can live in luxury. It is because Elliot is a Luddite that she believes herself responsible for caring for the North estate, not to mention her friendship with the Posts. Speaking of the Posts, the world building in this novel is extraordinary. The context of the novel is carefully woven into the story with such detail and precision that it swept me into the story.For Darkness Shows the Stars is a complex novel filled with a cast of complicated, very real and humane characters. There are characters that I wanted to hate but ended up feeling grudging respect towards, and there are characters that I wanted to love... and, well, loved. No human is perfect, and this novel showcases the various sides to humanity from slothfulness to greediness to naïveness to the duty-bound. And Elliot is one of the duty-bound, a characteristic doubly engrained in her as she once chose duty over love. As much as I would love to gloat over the beautiful ending, I would have been just as contented had it turned out differently. Elliot once made a choice, and she has to make it once more at the end. I could easily see her choosing either way. I very much enjoyed this brilliant retelling of Persuasion as set in a dystopian world and will most definitely be recommending it.more
Review Courtesy of Dark Faerie TalesQuick & Dirty: A deeply emotional book set in a repressed futuristic society, bleak yet heartwarming. If you like frustrated lovers or Jane Austen, you will like this book.Opening Sentence: Elliot North raced across the pasture, leaving a scar of green in the silver, dew-encrusted grass.The Review:Elliot North was born a Luddite, the second daughter to Lord North who operates the largest farm in the north. As a child she became friends with the farm mechanic’s son, Kai, a friendship that eventually grew into something much more but because of their backgrounds they could never truly be together. Kai decided they should run away together but when the time came Elliot knew she couldn’t leave the farm, but Kai did. Elliot was the only one sane enough to take care of the daily operations, the farm workers (who are Reduced or Post-Reductionist) and make sure the farm doesn’t starve during the winter months.Four years have passed since Kai left and not one day goes by that Elliot doesn’t think of him. She gets a letter in the mail that an Admiral wants to reopen her grandfather’s boatyard to build a ship. Elliot sees this as an opportunity to save the farm so she accepts in a way that will appease her obstinate father. The Admiral brings along his best pilots, one of them happens to be Malakai Wentforth, whom Elliot recognizes right away even though he has changed quite a bit in the years he has been away.Elliot and Kai’s relationship is very tentative but also hot and cold. They are not around each other much but when she’s not around him all she can think about is seeing him but when he is around she just wants him to go away. Kai is very rude to Elliot, he hasn’t forgiven her rejection of him. He spends a lot of his time putting her down and for the most part Elliot takes it because she knows she has hurt him badly, but when Kai crosses the line she stands up for herself and her actions. Somebody just needed to sit them down so they could discuss their actions but then this would have been a much shorter book.Elliot’s home life is very infuriating but the fact that Elliot has sacrificed her happiness for others is why I liked her so much. She goes against her Luddite background with her experiments with a new brand of hearty wheat that could get her imprisoned for treason but it is the horrible secret that she learns from Kai that turns her world upside down.The story shifts from Elliot’s point of view to letters that Elliot and Kai wrote each other over the years. If it weren’t for the letters, I would never have liked Kai, but the camaraderie they share over time saddens me when it has to inevitably end and I want to root for them to get back together, but with the strange hierarchy of the people, I wasn’t too sure how that was going to happen. Elliot’s father has no problem threatening the lives of her friends on the farm to get her to do his bidding.The world confused me at first trying to learn the difference between the Luddite, the Reduced, and the Post Reductionist/Children of the Reduction but once it all clicked into place it worked. The future has reverted back to 1700/1800 farm life, too many bad things happened with human experimenting that the world has reset itself and too much technology is a bad thing.One note, I have never read Jane Austen’s Persuasion, but I could tell this novel was heavily influenced by those period pieces. For Darkness Shows the Stars has the feel of a historical novel but just set in a different time/world. If it wasn’t for the novel saying it took place many years after a horrible war that decimated the population and landscape, and some of the weird technology, I would have thought it took place 200 years ago.For Darkness Shows the Stars is a beautiful and enchanting novel that I couldn’t put down. The tension just sucked me right in. I wanted to know the secrets and what was going to happen next. This is a novel that I could read again and again.Notable Scene:“I’ll give you whatever you want. Whatever it takes for you to keep our secret. A sun-cart? Or money? I have plenty. How much will it take?”She blinked, as the dream smashed around her. So this is what it had come to. Kai didn’t trust her. He’d never trust her. If he did, he wouldn’t think he’d have to buy her silence. Because now it was Elliot, the Luddite lord’s daughter, who was the beggar, the desperate one, who’d compromise the principles she’d had drummed into her since birth . . . for money. He thought she was a hypocrite, a traitor to her people, and he might be right. But not the way he thought. Not for money. She’d do it for him. Not for a sun-cart.He loved the people who’d stolen his humanity, but he’d never loved her.She stepped back. Stumbled, really. And sputtered. “Get out.”It was Kai’s turn to blink in surprise.She waved the lantern at him. He was fortunate she didn’t throw it at his head. How could he know her so well and so little at once? “Get out of my barn. Now.”He stepped away from her, his hands held out to brace himself should she choose to swing. “I’m serious.”“So am I.” She advanced, and he retreated toward the door. “I don’t want anything from you.” Not his money, not his pity, and most especially not his false kindness. “Don’t you ever speak to me again, Malakai Wentforth. I hate you. I hate you. And I’m not sorry anymore.”“What?”“I’m not sorry I didn’t go with you. Because I hate the man that you’ve become.”FTC Advisory: Harper Teen provided me with a copy of For Darkness Shows the Stars. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.more
In short: For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund combines a captivating premise and an honourable protagonist to make it a stand-out read.For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund is a dystopic retelling of Jane Austen's Persuasion. Having never read Persuasion (or any of Jane Austen's novels... ack, I'm ashamed to admit that!), I cannot speak as to whether it was a good adaptation, but I can say that it suited the tone, themes, and writing of a Victorian Era novel perfectly. It was a bit jarring at first, reading a dystopian that was almost completely lacking the futuristic inventions that are usually so commonplace, but I quickly came to appreciate the originality of Peterfreund's concept: a futuristic society ruled by Luddites who abhor any kind of technology and favour the kind of class system that the Victorians had. What few inventions there were - the glorious sun carts and sun ships - even had an air of antiquity to them that made For Darkness Shows the Stars seem like historical fiction with steampunk elements.Elliot, daughter of one of the old Luddite families, is the heart and soul of For Darkness Shows the Stars. She is one of the most admirable protagonists I have ever read - certainly the most mature and responsible. Given the choice between her childhood love and protecting her family's estate and the poor workers who live there, she chose duty. Imagine! I am so used to reading about heroines who choose the love interest every time so Elliot was such a refreshing change. It's not that I hate those heroines who choose love over all else - I mean, that's very sweet and everything - but do they ever stop to think about all the people they are screwing over before selfishly choosing the guy? No. But Elliot, with all of her strength and maturity, is the paragon of goodness and doing the right thing above all else.I will admit that I am surprised that I wasn't bored at all while reading For Darkness Shows the Stars - some readers may be put off by the slower pacing. But I can honestly say that I was never hoping for more action scenes or wishing for more exciting events to take place. I don't know if it was the strength of the source material or the captivating originality of the premise, but I was held glued to Peterfreund's beautiful prose and engrossed in the dilemmas that Elliot is put up against. I could not help but ache for Elliot when she is treated so poorly by her former childhood love, Kai. And I could not help but feel anguish for the critical decisions she has to make and the pressure she faces with regards to some serious issues, like the ethics of genetic engineering and the treatment of mentally disabled persons.Overall, For Darkness Shows the Stars is a beautiful and engrossing novel and a definite must read. The originality of the futuristic, dystopian world that read more like a historical fiction novel of Jane Austen's time and the strength and goodness of the story's protagonist made For Darkness Shows the Stars a stand-out read. This was my first read of Diana Peterfreund's, but it absolutely won't be my last. And guys - this is a standalone! One of the very, very few I've read so far this year. For Darkness Shows the Stars will be released June 12, 2012. I highly recommend it.more
Let me just say this. I have never read Persuasion by Jane Austen. I have also never read anything else by Diana Peterfreund, before this book. So, I went into For Darkness Shows the Stars knowing nothing but the blurb.I was stunned.This book is amazing.It's absolutely gorgeous.The writing is phenomenal, and every single character in this book bounds off the page. The romance between Elliot and Kai is something to swoon over. It's not rushed and heated, like so many other YA books, but it's almost perfect. It's real.Oh, there's so much more to say. Having just finished reading it merely moments ago, I want to gush about it. However, I can't seem to piece together my thoughts. Other than the ones above. And they are just vague, because this book is deep. It's more then just a post-apocalyptic book or a romance. It is about family and doing what you feel is right, even if those choices are not what everyone else wants. It's about being strong and sincere to yourself.more
This book is really unique. I totally loved the idea of the plot. It's really engaging and so exciting to read!What I loved most about this book is the great plot. The reader is introduced to a whole new world after one that was ravished from beliefs. The people now have segregated into what they believe. Those who believe that there should be no experiments done on animals, plants, humans are Luddite. There are those who believe you should experiment to enhance your life are Posts. And honestly, while reading this book I can't say where I stand. I know the technology is good cause it does help your life. On the other hand, technology can become controling and dangerous. The story line started off slow but quickly worked up to an amazing ending.The love interest in this book is well done. Here we have a Luddite and a Post fighting on two different sides on what they believe yet they yearn for each other like peanut butter and jelly. The straining of the relationship left my heart in pieces. Ms. Peterfreund did an amazing job of showcasing the strain, their beliefs as well as their growing love for each other despite what was done in their past or happening now in the present. I'll tell you right now that it will break your heart. Yet at the end, you heart will fall together again with lots of joy!The characters of this book are written extremely well. I loved how the characters are well adapted to their time. You can tell that they are teenagers yet you feel the pressure of what they have to do. The changes that the characters go through, molded them into people that their society needs. These characters will make you feel as if you are in the story.For Darkness Shows The Stars is a talented story of a young love coming to light. The culture, the beliefs, the struggle to stand on your on only to be brought down by others, leaves the reader breathless. Then a burning love saves them all. For Darkness Show The Stars is amazing!more
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Reviews

I didn’t expect much from this, truthfully. I had read the author’s unicorn books (well, one and a half of them) and hadn’t really gotten into them. Then I heard it was loosely based on Persuasion and decided to check it out, which is a little ironic since that’s one of the Austen books I haven’t read. Now I want to, though. The novel has an interesting structure—the narrative goes along, and then there will be letters between Kai, the worker boy on the farm, and Elliot, the privileged daughter of the owner of the farm. They were friends since childhood until he decided he couldn’t stand it there anymore. She couldn’t run away with him, and that was the last she saw of him. She thought. While her father and older sister are supposed to be running the farm, Elliot is actually the one doing all the work, and a little more. She has been trying to genetically modify wheat so it will produce more, ensuring their workers won’t go hungry and possibly even having a little left over to sell. Her family is Luddite, as are all the landowners, and such meddling is prohibited. Her father discovers it and plows it under to keep anyone else from finding out—he’s going to put in a race track. Knowing they desperately need money, Elliot looks through her father’s correspondence and finds a letter from a well known adventurer, looking to rent the dock her grandfather owns for however long it takes for them to build a new ship. Elliot completes the rental agreement, even though it means moving her grandfather out of the only home he’s ever lived in to make room for the new tenants. Elliot’s grief, frustration, and disbelief at her father and sister’s behaviors are completely convincing. All of the characters, even those with minor roles, are fleshed out just enough to make them believable and real. Elliot truly does care for the people who work for her family, but her view has always been from the view of being the privileged one. When their new tenants arrive, Elliot is at a complete loss at the identity of one of the Captains. Ultimately, this is a story about moving forward and forgiveness, both on a personal and a technological level. The acceptance of things beyond our realm of imagination. The door-stopper stubbornness of the hero, as in the Austen novels, to do anything to indicate his true feelings that makes you want to whack him over the head with a broom—see, the writing really does pull you into the story, when you want to start hitting characters with cleaning implements. Not that Elliot isn’t stubborn herself. There is just enough detail to make everything seem real—to get really angry at the “bad” guys and cheer the “good” guys on.more
Absolutely FANTABULOUS!........I loved everything about this book. I recommend it to Jane Austen lovers, Romance readers and those looking for a well written entertaining story. One of the best I've read this year. I will definitely read and reread this story for years to come.more
This was a dystopian/post-apocalyptic take on Jane Austen's Persuasion. I am not a big Austen fan, so I have not read this one. I don't know what the original is about so I didn't have any preconceived notions on this.As much as the dysoptian/post-apocalyptic genres are worn out for me, I didn't mind this one. I really liked Elliot North's character and found myself rooting for her the entire time. She is raised on an estate during the time when slavery has made it's way back into the picture thanks to geneticists. As society moved forward and attempted to make perfect human beings, of course something went wrong and they created a whole generation or more of a group of people who needed land owners to take care of them.Elliot is left to run her estate after her mother passed away as her father and older sister want nothing to do with the actual running of things or working in general.One of the workers from her estate and Elliot's childhood best friend, Kai, has made a reappearance in her life after being gone for several years. She is not ready to face him or the feelings she still has for him. She also quickly learns that he has a secret that could change or possibly ruin the society that Elliot has come to know and understand.more
More of a 3.5. Bumped up since I love Persuasion that much.more
I’ve complained about Jane Austen-inspired works in the past, namely that most of them seem to miss the point Austen was trying to make and SHE WROTE MORE THAN ONE BOOK. So, my interest was piqued when Diana Peterfreund announced this book. Post-apocalyptic Jane Austen retelling? Of Persuasion, of all things? I am intrigued.

What I’m automatically loving about this book is that the post-apocalyptic society in this actually feels a lot more plausible than the vast majority. There’s no deep dark secret behind the set-up, there’s no evil overlords out to squash teenage hormones, there’s no rebellions. It’s just a story about a bittersweet romance that happens to take place after the end and that while there are changes happening in society, it’s more of the result of human progression, rather than uncovering vast conspiracies. Even the people who disapprove feel more like they’re criticizing the new world because society’s changing. I really like this, if only because this feels more like the natural human reaction to anything “new” and the times they are a’changing. Even the revelations that are supposed to be earth-shattering aren’t really in the larger context in this universe. I like this concept. It’s different from the endless uprisings and rebellions that have been so prevalent, and it’s nice to get something different once in a while.

That said, I do have an issue with the fallout of the apocalypse in this verse, namely the Reduced. The idea that the “intelligent” people are in charge of the mentally retarded and treating like free labor does make me feel uncomfortable. Also not helping is that Elliot treats one girl in particular, Ro, like her own personal morality pet. However, most of the Luddites and Elliot get routinely called out for their attitudes and treatment of the Reduced. It’s not an ideal situation, but that it’s pointed out that there are massive flaws in the system is good.

I like Elliot. First of all, she’s genuinely questioning the limitations of her society, not because she wants to rebel and be special, but the circumstances have driven her to find new methods. She’s got a whole estate on her shoulders with a frivolous family, and a hard winter is coming. And I like that Elliot’s experiments are largely the result of basic genetic manipulation. And yet she still doubts if what she’s doing is right. Elliot manages to be proud without being a bitch or too haughty, and when she does, it’s only under certain circumstances.

Kai is certainly the dashing gentleman snarker, but I think it takes the book a little too long into making him more sympathetic. There is a very strong sense of betrayal still lingering, but it works with the lifetime of prejudice that Kai’s dealt with. I also love that we get to see Kai and Elliot’s relationship build through a series of interspersed letters from when they were children, up to Kai’s disappearance. It gives enough of the backstory without feeling too info-dumpy and does a good job of illustrating the prejudices and the classism.

The supporting cast is good. Like I said, I do have issues with most of the Reduced and Post-Reduced characters of the North estate, mainly that they really feel like they exist to be there for Elliot to take care of. The Phoenix siblings are initially aloof and hard to warm up to, but once they get more of their backstory explained, and their prejudices (Andromeda’s, particularly) are lessened, they’re very strong characters. (Also, I love Andromeda, she’s awesome.) I love the Innovations, as they’re probably the most complex characters, even with the few details that are revealed about them. I also really liked the Groves, especially Olivia. She does start off a bratty clingy jealous girl, but she turns out to be very sweet and just a little too naïve.

And I also really liked how well the Regency principles fit into this society. It’s not as restrictive as proper Regency society, but the isolation of the different Luddite families and the pageantry of the upper classes really fits well. It works very well into the expectation that Elliot and her sister are expected to marry rather than inherit the various estates.

As I’ve been saying, this is not the action-packed dystopia that’s found on so many YA shelves (mine included), but rather a very introspective love story that happens to take place in a post-apocalyptic society. That’s the reason why I really enjoyed this book. It’s well-written and it’s got a sweeping romance. It’s a breath of fresh air in a very trendy setting, and I highly recommend checking it out.
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I read Peterfreund’s Rampant previously and enjoyed that book. I was interested to see what she would write in a sci-fi setting. Unfortunately while this book is beautifully written, it is incredibly slow and not much happens throughout the book. This is supposed to be a sort of sci-fi telling of Persuasion.This story is about an eighteen year old girl named Elliot who is struggling to run her father’s farm. She is part of a society of people called Luddites who are against technology. When a tech-based apocalyptic event happens they end up surviving a catastrophe and becoming the wealthy part of society. When younger she was friends with a Post named Kai, who left to find his fortune elsewhere.One part of this book I really did enjoy was the chapters that consisted of letters Elliot and Kai had written to each other when they were younger. About every third or fourth chapter consisted of these letters. They were entertaining to read and gave an excellent glimpse into this society.The world building in this book is excellent. You have whole society based on the fact that because of technological tampering part of the world was Reduced, or basically unable to function as normal human beings. Then there are the Posts, these are people born to Reduced parents who are able to function as normal humans. Lastly there are the Luddites, who have basically ruled society since the Reduction. It’s a very interesting world and discusses both the positives and negatives of genetic enhancement. Elliot is a hard character to love. She’s run a tough road even with her high social status. Throughout the book her viewpoint sounds more like that of a worn out forty year old than that of an eighteen year. To be honest reading about her made me feel tired and sad. She has taken on so much responsibility, suffers so much, and is constantly abused for it. She is tired, she is hopeless, and she is struggling to help the Posts on her farm survive.Kai is also a hard character to love. He took off and left Elliot behind to find a fortune of his own. He blames her for staying on the farm even knowing that many Posts would suffer if she were to leave her responsibilities behind. He is mean, disrespectful, and spiteful to Elliot throughout most of the book. It is only through their letters to each other that you get a glimpse into the friendship Kai and Elliot once had.This book reads more like a Southern Plantation romance than a sci-fi novel. The majority of the book is about Elliot’s struggles to run the North farm in light of her father’s abuse and horrible decision making. It is also about Elliot and Kai trying to come to peace with what they have become over their time apart. Additionally it is also about the Posts on the farm and the lives they are trying to have while working in almost slave-like conditions.Very little actually happens in this book. Elliot whines about her responsibilities and moons over Kai. Kai avoids and insults Elliot. As a reader we read mostly about day to day how the North farm is run and the problems they encounter. It is beautifully written, but the pace is incredibly slow.I did enjoy the tidbits we are feed about the history of this world and about the genetic modifications that are starting to happen again. Peterfreund doesn’t go into great detail on these topics but they are there and add some interest to the book. I did really enjoy the last couple chapters of the book, things pick up the pace and are much more intriguing.Overall an okay read. There are a lot of interesting ideas presented in this novels that I liked. Unfortunately I had trouble engaging with the characters, and found our heroine Elliot to be so downtrodden that she was incredibly depressing to read about. While the book has an interesting premise, not much happens. Things move very slowly and in the end it reads more like a book about Southern Plantations and slavery than a sci-fi novel. At this point I am unsure whether or not I will read the next book in this series.more
Loved it! For me, the fun of reading this novel what knowing that, as in Persuasion, everything with work itself out in the end *and* to my satisfaction. I enjoyed being immersed in this new universe, old/new technologies, rules and all, with the old characterizations.more
This book has received some rave reviews so I've had it on my TBR list for quite some time. It's not a perfect book, but this was one of those rare books that even with its flaws, I LOVED. So I'm giving it 4.5 stars.For the Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund is marketed as a retelling of Jane Austen's famous Persuasion (and quotes are interspersed within section headings of the book) in a dystopian YA world. I admit I haven't read Persuasion, but I really enjoyed this book. We are introduced to Elliot, who has been named for her grandfather, and at a young age has had to take over a large load of responsibilities at her farm. She loves her grandfather but he has been continually becoming more senile, and she fights against her father who is rigid and many times cruel to the Reduced (mentally disabled group of people who "played with genetic fire" and now have become a slave population) who work on their farm. There is another group emerging called the Posts, children of the Reduced who have regained intelligence but because of their birthright still remain slaves. Kai is one of them, Elliot's childhood sweetheart, who has dodged all odds, escaped the farm, and made a name for himself. After four years, he's suddenly back in her life, and now Elliot wages an internal war between responsibility to those she loves and freedom to be with the man she loves.It's all more complicated than that of course, but there are some really amazing twists that the reader must discover for himself or herself. I admit it. I loved this book. It's rare for me to clutch a book and be so moved that I linger on every page and can't let go. Most of that is because of Peterfreund's lyrical prose and also Elliot herself. She is an amazing character-- she knows what is right and that guides her to stand up for people she loves. She is what makes the book sing. I was almost in tears when she was abused on so many levels but still managed to stay on top.Like I said before, this isn't a perfect book. The letters from younger Kai and Elliot are more distracting than anything else, but there's a reason that I decided I'm okay with this decision, and that is because of what Peterfreund does at the end of the book. Also, Kai is kind of a douche bag, and Elliot is so amazing that I don't think he is anywhere good enough for her. There's a reason he's angry, and it doesn't seem a good enough reason to be so cruel at times. Lastly, I felt like there were some ethical issues that were just really open ended, and I am not sure how they could be reconciled, but I would have liked more discussion between Elliot and Felicia (who knows a lot) to help clarify things at least.However, even with these issues, the gorgeous prose and the terrific protagonist swept me away. You should take a look at this book.more
When anyone asks me what my favorite Jane Austen novel is, I always say Northanger Abbey is my favorite for the humor, Persuasion is my favorite for the love story, and Pride and Prejudice is my favorite of both combined. Anne Elliott and Captain Wentworth are very dear to my heart, so I was a little leery reading this book. And I had good cause to be. Making the characters teenagers, and making their long separation 4 years from when they were 14, just didn't pack the punch of the real Persuasion and was just kind of uncomfortable and a little creepy. I also didn't really understand the world the author built. It was either never explained completely, or at least I didn't get it. The ending was getting incredibly exciting and scary, and then suddenly all the bad people went away and things fell into place. It was ridiculously contrived. This book is a very clean read. No language, no sexual content, mature themes of birthing houses and illusions to things that happen to young children who run away. Nothing graphic.more
This book was so confusing in the beginning. There were so many things brought up, like the reduction, that weren't really explained until later. But, once I got passed that, I really loved this story. This story is based off of Jane Austen's Persuasion, which I have never read before so I can't say anything about the two together. But For Darkness Shows the Stars was such a 'sit on the edge of your seat' kind of love story, that I couldn't help but be glued to the book. I loved Elliot and Kai. They are both such interesting, strong characters that I can't help but love them, even when they're both being ridiculous and not talking to each other.more
This was one of the books that just catches hold of you and you can't put down. I liked the idea behind it and the characters are interesting. Some plot points are a little too convenient, but it was still a very enjoyable read.more
I am bound to judge any story that uses Persuasion pretty harshly. I can't help myself; I'm a huge Persuasion fan, and there haven't been enough adaptations of it to dull my senses to the inconsistencies yet. So it's a risk - as much as I look forward to stories that make use of it, there's a good chance that I just won't be able to let things go. I think I probably was harder on this that I would have been if it didn't use Persuasion and instead was just another dystopian YA. But it was inevitable that I would judge it harshly - though even then, I couldn't help but love it.It was unputdownable. It had that indefinable something working for it, and the heart of it, the way it mirrored Persuasion but adapted to fit a wholly different environment, was really compelling to me. There were always parts of me saying, Anne wouldn't say what Elliot just said, Anne wouldn't do what Elliot just did - but then I'd catch myself thinking, but she would feel it... And that was why it worked. No, Elliot is not a carbon copy of Anne. She has Anne's basic traits (she's loyal, she's smart, reliable, and compassionate, and everyone pushes her around), but she is also a product of her environment, and the two work together to create a character that strongly resembles Anne (is very Anne-like), but is also her own creation. I really have to applaud Peterfreund for being able to balance the two so well. The story is at once a clear retelling of Persuasion, and its own very different story entirely. It's not just a regurgitation of Persuasion in an exciting dystopic setting. It's its own creation, and though there are these changes in the core of who the characters are, I think for the most part, they're suited to the story Peterfreund created. It feels more "inspired by" than a straight retelling. I think you can really tell how much Peterfreund likes Persuasion and Austen, and respects her source material, and that's part of what really makes it work as a whole.That isn't to say there weren't things that bothered me, or that didn't work from a retelling standpoint. Because this is written for YA, the timing doesn't have the same impact. In Persuasion, Anne and Wentworth fall in love and are separated when Anne is 19, and then meet again nearly a decade later. Moving up the timetable to suit a YA audience means that Elliot and Kai are separated at 14 and come together again at 18, and I have never been enough of a romantic that I would consider separated 14 year olds to be tragic lovers, and a reunion at 18 to be a triumphant return... It lessens it somehow; lessens the tragedy and the sadness of pining and being alone for almost 10 years, takes away the pain of feeling like the character will always be alone, like she's lost her only chance... It makes it all a little lighter, which is sad because there's really nothing that Peterfreund could do differently and still have it suit the audience. The way, too, that they are separated - with Elliot first of all in mourning, and second, legitimately making the right decision for everyone around her - means that it becomes a lot harder to like Kai. I did like him, don't get me wrong, but I think that was maybe only because I knew who he was supposed to be, and how he was going to turn out. Otherwise, I think I would have found him really callous and almost cruel, both in the manner and timing of their separation, and in his treatment of Elliot on his return.Other things that niggled at me: It feels like the beginning to a series. I don't think it will be, but that's just because I know it is a retelling. If I picked this up just as a sci-fi read, I'd be sure it was going to be a trilogy. There's so much that feels like it could still be explored, and for all of the doom and gloom of the situation, and Elliot's internal debates over what's right and what the future should hold, things are far too easily wrapped up once she's (re)secured Kai's affections; in fact, the entire book ends too abruptly for me, with it feeling like Elliot is being rash, and a number of characters being ushered quickly off the stage... Also, I didn't like the letters that begin and punctuate the book. I got used to them, and I like what Elliot did with them, and the knothole, etc., but the letters themselves felt forced on the story to me, and they didn't work as a way to draw me into the story.See? See how nitpicky this all turned out, when I really do want to push this book into everyone's hands? Ugh, okay: Despite my obsessive attention to this as a Persuasion retelling, and my too-harsh judgement as a result (because I have to, I can't not, it's one of my all-time faves), Peterfreund crafted a really compelling story that:a) is one of the most unique Austen adaptations I've ever read. And I mean unique in a good way - P&P&Z was "unique" too, but my god, was it ever terrible. This is both unique and functioning as a story, compelling and interesting, very very different from other adaptations, but showcasing the same love of the original as the best adaptations do.b) works both as a retelling and as a complete original, which I don't know I have ever said - or even thought - about any other adaptation. It can be read by fans of YA, fans of Austen, and fans of both, and each group will get something different out of it while also enjoying it for what they came to it for, adaptation or YA sci-fi (And they won't feel like they're missing anything by not being familiar with Austen and/or YA).c) presents a really interesting, engaging world with characters and conflicts that intrigued me.So yes, as much as I notice all these little things, and feel compelled to say "But wait - but what about - but then - " I really did thoroughly enjoy this and think Peterfreund did a fantastic job of making it work so very far out of the box.So get it. Read it. And enjoy it immensely with me even while we pick it apart...more
Review originally published on my blog: AWordsWorth.blogspot.comOh. My. Word. Seriously, you guys. This book was amazing. This is the Persuasion I always wanted Jane Austen to have written. Set in a world that's dramatically under-technological, generations after an apocalypse-like event that split society into castes (Reduced and Luddites), our story takes place.The basic premise is Persuasion, with Elliott North (Anne Elliott) left behind on her family farm as Kai (Wentworth) runs away to seek adventure and perchance fortune. And, as the familiar story goes, he waltzes back into her life years later, and she realizes everything she lost in not following her heart and leaving with him. But here's where the story takes a dramatic left-turn from Austen's. Elliott chose to stay on her farm. It was her choice to stay, and try her best to run the farm and protect the Reduced and Posts (children of Reduced parents who were untouched by the developmental limitations). While she wasn't always successful, her heart was in the right place, and even though she aches over the loss of Kai, she knows it was the right decision. When the Post Fleet comes and rents space to build new ships, Elliott's rocked to her core to discover that Kai - now Malakai Wentforth - is a star captain of the Fleet. Meeting Kai again in such startling (and somewhat reversed) circumstances is only the beginning of everything that happens to make Elliott start questioning everything she's ever been taught or believed. The Post Fleet brings with them many wonderful stories and objects - but also more secrets than Elliott would have ever suspected. And through it all, she's forced to face the truth of the tension between herself and Kai.The story ... the characters ... I wish my reading of Persuasion had been as enjoyable as my reading of For Darkness Shows the Stars. Where Anne Elliott got on my last nerve for being so easily swayed, and having no backbone or apparent mind of her own at all, Elliott North is keenly aware that she has made the choices that cause such aching loneliness and pain. Another wonderful development is that we get to see the history of Kai and Elliott, through the letters they exchanged throughout their childhood - and which Elliott secretly kept, and has reread to the point of memorization. By seeing these letters, interspersed through the story, we can get a sense of who Kai and Elliott were - and how they've become the mature characters they are now. It's a wonderful addition, and really helps build sympathy with both parties: you know that they had a close relationship in the past, and that their separation would have been mutually destructive.Honestly, my only real complaint is that the story ends so soon. I want more - I want to know what happens next - and can only hope that there's a sequel in the works.more
For Darkness Shows the Stars is -- wait for it -- a post-apocalyptic Jane Austen retelling. This was bound to happen eventually, right? But actually, it's not as bad as it sounds.Elliott North is a member of the post-apocalyptic society's ruling class, the Luddites. Not so many generations ago, the human race was nearly wiped out by scientific advances involving tampering with human DNA. The Luddites refused to participate in this trend for religious reasons, and so when the scientific experimentation went horribly wrong, the Luddites were the ones who survived with all of their faculties, while children of the genetically-enhanced became known as the Reduced because of their extremely limited mental capacities. These Reduced generally ended up as servants on the estates of wealthy Luddites, who control society and severely limit scientific experimentation in order to avoid falling into the trap of earlier generations. Now, in Elliott's time, some of the children born to the Reduced are known as Posts (Post-Reduction), with full mental capacities, but they are still part of the servant class. One of those Posts, Kai, grew up alongside Elliott on her estate. The two formed a friendship that eventually turned into something more -- but when Kai fled the estate, Elliott remained behind. Since her mother's death, Elliott had become the only person capable of managing the estate, while her father and sister cared only for fashion and pleasure. Then, four years after leaving the North estate, Kai returns in a company known as the Cloud Fleet. This group of Posts, lead by a man known as Captain Innovation, travel to nearby islands in search of pre-Reduction technology that the Luddites will purchase and use, and they are renting Elliott's grandfather's defunct shipyard in order to build a larger sailing vessel. Kai, now known as Malakai Wentforth, is still just as attractive to Elliott -- but he's still just as angry with her for her refusal to leave her estate. Can the two move past their misunderstanding, or is their shared history enough to keep them apart forever?Austen fans, no doubt, have already recognized the framework of Persuasion underneath this story's post-apocalyptic trappings. I'm going to admit that, while I count myself an Austen fan, I'm not one of those fans who rereads the canon every year or so and can bring to mind every minute detail. It's been more than ten years since I read Persuasion, so my knowledge of the original story did not stand in the way of my enjoyment of this book. I found it generally enjoyable, with a few minor details to quibble about. I never thought Kai's resentment of Elliott for staying behind made much sense -- he knew that she was the one holding everything together, and if she had left all of the people he grew up around would probably have starved. I also thought there were a few more loose ends at the end of the book than I would have liked -- not enough that I feel a sequel is inevitable (or even warranted), but enough to leave me a little bit unsatisfied. Still, I liked the book on the whole, and would recommend it if the premise intrigues you. Fans of Austen retellings will enjoy this if they don't mind a little added sci-fi, and those who have not read Austen's original will still be able to enjoy both the well-described dystopia and the sweet romance.more
For Darkness Shows the Stars was a book that evoked strong emotions in me. While that's a good thing that it brought that out, it was also frustrating for me as I felt so much anger and frustration it bled into my real life and that wasn't so good. However, this book was definitely a great read!It started out slow for me and I didn't have a strong urge to pick it up and read. Then all of a sudden I found I couldn't seem to put it down and I'm not sure when it occurred. Once it did I just wanted to devour it. However, it still wasn't a real fast paced book, but something held onto me and had me reading like a mad woman. Maybe it was because I was super anxious for the romance to happen.This was inspired by Persuasion by Jane Austen and I definitely felt that with the romance. And it was frustrating! Not in a bad way, though it's not really my favorite thing, waiting forever and just wishing so hard that they would figure things out much sooner, but it was nice to really feel that urge and need for more. I wanted to scream and holler at them to TALK, figure it out, and just plan your future! The world was really interesting. It took a few chapters to understand how it worked, but once I understood I thought it was pretty creative and it was easy for me to imagine something like that happening. Our technology back firing and creating the Reduced.Overall this was a great read that most definitely had me thinking. As I saw how the world became this way, and how Elliot has to suffer through so much with a father as difficult and demanding as she has and with a romance that has torn her heart apart, I really fell for this story and only wished for the best for everyone. While it's not super fast paced, and the romance wasn't my favorite style, I still found myself really enjoying the book. So if it sounds like your thing I suggest you give it a try!more
From the first pages, Peterfreund had my heart gripped in her hand. The novel begins with Elliot worrying over affairs at the estate. The family is near financial ruin, yet her father insists on living in a luxury that he cannot afford. Elliot is the only sensible member of the family and powerless to stand before her father. Despite her cleverness and the respect the Posts and Reduced on the North estate have for her, she is timid and knows not how to stand up for herself. Her devotion towards the people on the estate is integral to Elliot's character and the duty that she feels to them plays an important part in the novel.The novel is highly character driven. Elliot and Kai are childhood friends who fell in love, but they parted ways four years ago, Elliot with grave sorrow and Kai embittered. Both still remember the past with different mindsets, however, and misunderstandings and old arguments stand in the way of a happy reunion. There is little interaction in the ways of romance in this novel. Rather, it focuses on pride and self-interest. Neither Elliot nor Kai will concede to the other, fixated as they both are on their own interests. I was tormented as I wavered between viewing Kai as a jerk for refusing to admit that Elliot was right to stay behind, for not seeing the anguish she's suffered over her decision to let him go, and wanting to believe that Kai would turn out to be a good guy after all. Elliot is a strong, courageous girl, and she deserves happiness.Social mannerisms are also significant to the novel. It impacts how the characters act around different people, and it causes Elliot grief, as she cares about the people working on the North estate whereas her father is willing to let them starve so that he can live in luxury. It is because Elliot is a Luddite that she believes herself responsible for caring for the North estate, not to mention her friendship with the Posts. Speaking of the Posts, the world building in this novel is extraordinary. The context of the novel is carefully woven into the story with such detail and precision that it swept me into the story.For Darkness Shows the Stars is a complex novel filled with a cast of complicated, very real and humane characters. There are characters that I wanted to hate but ended up feeling grudging respect towards, and there are characters that I wanted to love... and, well, loved. No human is perfect, and this novel showcases the various sides to humanity from slothfulness to greediness to naïveness to the duty-bound. And Elliot is one of the duty-bound, a characteristic doubly engrained in her as she once chose duty over love. As much as I would love to gloat over the beautiful ending, I would have been just as contented had it turned out differently. Elliot once made a choice, and she has to make it once more at the end. I could easily see her choosing either way. I very much enjoyed this brilliant retelling of Persuasion as set in a dystopian world and will most definitely be recommending it.more
Review Courtesy of Dark Faerie TalesQuick & Dirty: A deeply emotional book set in a repressed futuristic society, bleak yet heartwarming. If you like frustrated lovers or Jane Austen, you will like this book.Opening Sentence: Elliot North raced across the pasture, leaving a scar of green in the silver, dew-encrusted grass.The Review:Elliot North was born a Luddite, the second daughter to Lord North who operates the largest farm in the north. As a child she became friends with the farm mechanic’s son, Kai, a friendship that eventually grew into something much more but because of their backgrounds they could never truly be together. Kai decided they should run away together but when the time came Elliot knew she couldn’t leave the farm, but Kai did. Elliot was the only one sane enough to take care of the daily operations, the farm workers (who are Reduced or Post-Reductionist) and make sure the farm doesn’t starve during the winter months.Four years have passed since Kai left and not one day goes by that Elliot doesn’t think of him. She gets a letter in the mail that an Admiral wants to reopen her grandfather’s boatyard to build a ship. Elliot sees this as an opportunity to save the farm so she accepts in a way that will appease her obstinate father. The Admiral brings along his best pilots, one of them happens to be Malakai Wentforth, whom Elliot recognizes right away even though he has changed quite a bit in the years he has been away.Elliot and Kai’s relationship is very tentative but also hot and cold. They are not around each other much but when she’s not around him all she can think about is seeing him but when he is around she just wants him to go away. Kai is very rude to Elliot, he hasn’t forgiven her rejection of him. He spends a lot of his time putting her down and for the most part Elliot takes it because she knows she has hurt him badly, but when Kai crosses the line she stands up for herself and her actions. Somebody just needed to sit them down so they could discuss their actions but then this would have been a much shorter book.Elliot’s home life is very infuriating but the fact that Elliot has sacrificed her happiness for others is why I liked her so much. She goes against her Luddite background with her experiments with a new brand of hearty wheat that could get her imprisoned for treason but it is the horrible secret that she learns from Kai that turns her world upside down.The story shifts from Elliot’s point of view to letters that Elliot and Kai wrote each other over the years. If it weren’t for the letters, I would never have liked Kai, but the camaraderie they share over time saddens me when it has to inevitably end and I want to root for them to get back together, but with the strange hierarchy of the people, I wasn’t too sure how that was going to happen. Elliot’s father has no problem threatening the lives of her friends on the farm to get her to do his bidding.The world confused me at first trying to learn the difference between the Luddite, the Reduced, and the Post Reductionist/Children of the Reduction but once it all clicked into place it worked. The future has reverted back to 1700/1800 farm life, too many bad things happened with human experimenting that the world has reset itself and too much technology is a bad thing.One note, I have never read Jane Austen’s Persuasion, but I could tell this novel was heavily influenced by those period pieces. For Darkness Shows the Stars has the feel of a historical novel but just set in a different time/world. If it wasn’t for the novel saying it took place many years after a horrible war that decimated the population and landscape, and some of the weird technology, I would have thought it took place 200 years ago.For Darkness Shows the Stars is a beautiful and enchanting novel that I couldn’t put down. The tension just sucked me right in. I wanted to know the secrets and what was going to happen next. This is a novel that I could read again and again.Notable Scene:“I’ll give you whatever you want. Whatever it takes for you to keep our secret. A sun-cart? Or money? I have plenty. How much will it take?”She blinked, as the dream smashed around her. So this is what it had come to. Kai didn’t trust her. He’d never trust her. If he did, he wouldn’t think he’d have to buy her silence. Because now it was Elliot, the Luddite lord’s daughter, who was the beggar, the desperate one, who’d compromise the principles she’d had drummed into her since birth . . . for money. He thought she was a hypocrite, a traitor to her people, and he might be right. But not the way he thought. Not for money. She’d do it for him. Not for a sun-cart.He loved the people who’d stolen his humanity, but he’d never loved her.She stepped back. Stumbled, really. And sputtered. “Get out.”It was Kai’s turn to blink in surprise.She waved the lantern at him. He was fortunate she didn’t throw it at his head. How could he know her so well and so little at once? “Get out of my barn. Now.”He stepped away from her, his hands held out to brace himself should she choose to swing. “I’m serious.”“So am I.” She advanced, and he retreated toward the door. “I don’t want anything from you.” Not his money, not his pity, and most especially not his false kindness. “Don’t you ever speak to me again, Malakai Wentforth. I hate you. I hate you. And I’m not sorry anymore.”“What?”“I’m not sorry I didn’t go with you. Because I hate the man that you’ve become.”FTC Advisory: Harper Teen provided me with a copy of For Darkness Shows the Stars. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.more
In short: For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund combines a captivating premise and an honourable protagonist to make it a stand-out read.For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund is a dystopic retelling of Jane Austen's Persuasion. Having never read Persuasion (or any of Jane Austen's novels... ack, I'm ashamed to admit that!), I cannot speak as to whether it was a good adaptation, but I can say that it suited the tone, themes, and writing of a Victorian Era novel perfectly. It was a bit jarring at first, reading a dystopian that was almost completely lacking the futuristic inventions that are usually so commonplace, but I quickly came to appreciate the originality of Peterfreund's concept: a futuristic society ruled by Luddites who abhor any kind of technology and favour the kind of class system that the Victorians had. What few inventions there were - the glorious sun carts and sun ships - even had an air of antiquity to them that made For Darkness Shows the Stars seem like historical fiction with steampunk elements.Elliot, daughter of one of the old Luddite families, is the heart and soul of For Darkness Shows the Stars. She is one of the most admirable protagonists I have ever read - certainly the most mature and responsible. Given the choice between her childhood love and protecting her family's estate and the poor workers who live there, she chose duty. Imagine! I am so used to reading about heroines who choose the love interest every time so Elliot was such a refreshing change. It's not that I hate those heroines who choose love over all else - I mean, that's very sweet and everything - but do they ever stop to think about all the people they are screwing over before selfishly choosing the guy? No. But Elliot, with all of her strength and maturity, is the paragon of goodness and doing the right thing above all else.I will admit that I am surprised that I wasn't bored at all while reading For Darkness Shows the Stars - some readers may be put off by the slower pacing. But I can honestly say that I was never hoping for more action scenes or wishing for more exciting events to take place. I don't know if it was the strength of the source material or the captivating originality of the premise, but I was held glued to Peterfreund's beautiful prose and engrossed in the dilemmas that Elliot is put up against. I could not help but ache for Elliot when she is treated so poorly by her former childhood love, Kai. And I could not help but feel anguish for the critical decisions she has to make and the pressure she faces with regards to some serious issues, like the ethics of genetic engineering and the treatment of mentally disabled persons.Overall, For Darkness Shows the Stars is a beautiful and engrossing novel and a definite must read. The originality of the futuristic, dystopian world that read more like a historical fiction novel of Jane Austen's time and the strength and goodness of the story's protagonist made For Darkness Shows the Stars a stand-out read. This was my first read of Diana Peterfreund's, but it absolutely won't be my last. And guys - this is a standalone! One of the very, very few I've read so far this year. For Darkness Shows the Stars will be released June 12, 2012. I highly recommend it.more
Let me just say this. I have never read Persuasion by Jane Austen. I have also never read anything else by Diana Peterfreund, before this book. So, I went into For Darkness Shows the Stars knowing nothing but the blurb.I was stunned.This book is amazing.It's absolutely gorgeous.The writing is phenomenal, and every single character in this book bounds off the page. The romance between Elliot and Kai is something to swoon over. It's not rushed and heated, like so many other YA books, but it's almost perfect. It's real.Oh, there's so much more to say. Having just finished reading it merely moments ago, I want to gush about it. However, I can't seem to piece together my thoughts. Other than the ones above. And they are just vague, because this book is deep. It's more then just a post-apocalyptic book or a romance. It is about family and doing what you feel is right, even if those choices are not what everyone else wants. It's about being strong and sincere to yourself.more
This book is really unique. I totally loved the idea of the plot. It's really engaging and so exciting to read!What I loved most about this book is the great plot. The reader is introduced to a whole new world after one that was ravished from beliefs. The people now have segregated into what they believe. Those who believe that there should be no experiments done on animals, plants, humans are Luddite. There are those who believe you should experiment to enhance your life are Posts. And honestly, while reading this book I can't say where I stand. I know the technology is good cause it does help your life. On the other hand, technology can become controling and dangerous. The story line started off slow but quickly worked up to an amazing ending.The love interest in this book is well done. Here we have a Luddite and a Post fighting on two different sides on what they believe yet they yearn for each other like peanut butter and jelly. The straining of the relationship left my heart in pieces. Ms. Peterfreund did an amazing job of showcasing the strain, their beliefs as well as their growing love for each other despite what was done in their past or happening now in the present. I'll tell you right now that it will break your heart. Yet at the end, you heart will fall together again with lots of joy!The characters of this book are written extremely well. I loved how the characters are well adapted to their time. You can tell that they are teenagers yet you feel the pressure of what they have to do. The changes that the characters go through, molded them into people that their society needs. These characters will make you feel as if you are in the story.For Darkness Shows The Stars is a talented story of a young love coming to light. The culture, the beliefs, the struggle to stand on your on only to be brought down by others, leaves the reader breathless. Then a burning love saves them all. For Darkness Show The Stars is amazing!more
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