02 August 2012

For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

It's been several generations since a genetic experiment gone wrong caused the Reduction, decimating humanity and giving rise to a Luddite nobility who outlawed most technology.

Elliot North has always known her place in this world. Four years ago Elliot refused to run away with her childhood sweetheart, the servant Kai, choosing duty to her family's estate over love. Since then the world has changed: a new class of Post-Reductionists is jumpstarting the wheel of progress, and Elliot's estate is foundering, forcing her to rent land to the mysterious Cloud Fleet, a group of shipbuilders that includes renowned explorer Captain Malakai Wentforth--an almost unrecognizable Kai. And while Elliot wonders if this could be their second chance, Kai seems determined to show Elliot exactly what she gave up when she let him go.

But Elliot soon discovers her old friend carries a secret--one that could change their society . . . or bring it to its knees. And again, she's faced with a choice: cling to what she's been raised to believe, or cast her lot with the only boy she's ever loved, even if she's lost him forever.

Inspired by Jane Austen's "Persuasion", "For Darkness Shows the Stars" is a breathtaking romance about opening your mind to the future and your heart to the one person you know can break it.
For Darkness Shows the Stars was quite a conundrum.  Within the first hundred pages, I was irritated.  Within the following two hundred, I was on the fence.  By the end of it all, I was quite smitten.  Being familiar with Diana Peterfreund's work (and yet still unable to correctly spell and/or pronounce her last name), I sought out her new book because I'd enjoyed her previous ones.  For Darkness Shows the Stars was a poignant coming-of-age tale about a hard life, heartbreak, and triumph.  I think Jane Austen would cheer from her grave at what I'd just finished reading.  I was pleasantly surprised with the rich world and stunning characters and with such a bold opening, I anxiously await the sequel.

The main character, Elliot, came very, very close to being chucked across the room.  The first forty pages were fantastic, if a bit confusing, but then Kai arrived in the story.  I loved Elliot's passion and her determination that the people under her have the best life they can have.  I respected her for her audacity and cleverness when so much was going against her.  However, I cannot give her an inch when it comes to how she repeatedly allowed her has-been lover to be outright cruel to her.  Despite the inevitability of the romance, if she had merely shown a bit of spine and retained some objectivity when it came to anything involving Kai (which was everything), he would have backed down and probably have been proud of her for standing her ground.

There were two tiny hiccups for me, story-wise.  I was completely confused by the first fifty or so pages.  Not very cool.  I was expecting things to be explained a little bit more in depth by the second chapter.  Admittedly, everything worked itself out but those first several chapters had me making a peeved face.  Secondly, I thought displaying the letters Elliot and Kai exchanged was rather pointless.  While it worked for showing what happened however long before the present time, I didn't think it showed anything else: character development, etc.  Despite these little setbacks, I thought the story was wonderful.  Almost entirely predictable, but wonderful in its execution.

The world was amazing as well, and though I'd wished while reading it that there was less of the KaiKaiKai aspect and more of the world built in, I see in retrospect that everything balanced itself out nicely by the end of the book.  I'm very impressed with Diana Peterfreund's ability to create such depth-defying worlds.  Nothing was flat in this book (except for maybe Elliot's judgment sometimes).  Everything had some slight detail that made it pop off the page.

The romance was...ah, interesting, but Kai wouldn't catch any friendly looks from me at any dinner parties.  I didn't like the way he treated Elliot, and I don't think it's right despite how he truly felt about her.  In my opinion, it only made it worse.  His bullying and arrogance really put me off.  I was more into the romance for Elliot's sake since I'd grown to respect her character by the end of it.

I think the thing I was most impressed with was the writing.  Very easy to grasp and quite intoxicating in its execution.  I found myself pulling out of the book and imagining how everything went in my head.  By the end, I was grinning like a total girl.

For Darkness Shows the Stars was a collection of positives and negatives, but mostly positives.  I will definitely be picking up the sequel whenever it comes out, though I don't think I'll have this book for my shelves.  Not quite yet.  Maybe when it comes out in paperback.

Book Info

  • pages - hardcover, 402
  • published - June 2012
  • publisher - Balzer + Bray
  • genre - dystopian
  • received via - library :)
  • rating - 4/5
  • series - For Darkness Shows the Stars
    • For Darkness Shows the Stars
    • Among the Nameless Stars (prequel, available as an ebook)