Author: Diana Peterfreund
Also by this author: Secret Society Girl, Under the Rose, Rites of Spring (Break), Tap & Gown, Rampant, Ascendant, Across a Star-Swept Sea, Omega City, Omega City: The Forbidden Fortress
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication date: June 12th 2012
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.
This is my second time reading this book, and it was such a different experience than the first. I had mixed feelings the first time because of my obsession love of all things Austen. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out who was who and what matched up with what. Not the best way to approach a new book – as an aside, I think that’s often the reason why a lot of people end up not liking movies of books. It’s important to have a little distance from the work at hand.I promised myself I would read the novel again in the fall. On the second go-around, I would say the book improves remarkably. This is a lushly romantic novel, full of longing letters and stolen moments. The book is structured in alternating chapters of past correspondence between Kai and Elliot, and what’s happening in the present. Two different mysteries were central to the story: 1) Why did Kai and Elliot break up? 2) Who are the Cloud Fleet, and what are they doing?
At its heart, this is a love story, but Peterfreund does quite a bit of impressive world-building and exposition (through letters between Kai and Elliot) in order to have us understand what’s happened to the world, and to answer the second question about the Cloud Fleet. I was really impressed with the idea of this world – there are a lot of post-apocalyptic scenarios in YA right now, but most of them have to do with zombies or monsters of some sort. Peterfreund’s world is remarkably different, dealing with a society where technology is banned because of too much genetic enhancement.
What made this so innovative to me was how close it felt to what could happen in the future. I think I was actually frightened because a lot of Elliot’s reactions to some of the technology that the Cloud Fleet brings were my reactions. I was both frustrated and intrigued by this, and even at the end of the novel, I still didn’t know if I could side with Luddite or Post.
But you probably want to know about the romance. Much like the characters of Kai and Elliot themselves, the story is restrained – almost to the point of frustration – and it unfurls itself slowly, with stops and starts.
This is not a novel for the impatient. And I am incredibly impatient.
That said, once I slowed down to really enjoy the nuances of the language and the beauty of the descriptions, I fell in love with Kai and Elliot. I loved the letters more the second time, and I loved how restrained they both were, and how frightened they were of even a kiss.
The most incredible thing about the novel is how much Peterfreund captured of the tone of Austen’s England, and of Persuasion itself. The voice of the novel was just as restrained as the characters, and it really matched up to how I FELT while reading Persuasion. In that sense alone, I feel that this book completely succeeded. We’re taught “form follows function” and I really felt that Peterfreund took that to a whole new level with the writing.
I wanted to talk a bit about the climax of the novel, which is like an explosion. But I don’t want to ruin it. Suffice to say, it’s just incredible. After so many pages of restraint, Peterfreund hits us with an unbelievable moment of physical and mental excitement, and the novel just builds from there.
That’s all I’m going to say. And that’s all I need to say, because tomorrow, you will get more information on Elliot North from the lady herself! Stop by tomorrow and find out about her first kiss with Kai, what her favorite shape of glider is, and more!
Have you read FDSTS? What did you think?