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Review - For Darkness Shows the Stars

Tuesday, June 12, 2012
For Darkness Shows the Stars
by Diana Peterfreund

Publication: June 12, 2012
Pages: 398
Author: Website | Facebook | Twitter
Publisher: Balzer and Bray
Buy it: Amazon | KindleB&N | Book Depository

Generations ago, a genetic experiment gone wrong—the Reduction—decimated humanity, 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.

Happy book birthday to a gripping dystopian novel that will break your heart to pieces as you share Elliot's heartbreak over her choice in duty over love.

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 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.

Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher. No payment was received in return for a review. The receipt of the book had no influence on the opinions expressed in my review.
15 comments on "Review - For Darkness Shows the Stars"
  1. Great review... Hopefully I get to read this soon, it sounds amazing...

    Jenea @ Books Live Forever

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    1. It is one of my absolute favorite dystopians of the year!

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  2. Lovely review! It sounds so fantastic and emotional. I haven't even read Persuasion and I'm ridiculously excited for this one. (Plus, that cover . . . yup.)

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    1. You don't have to read Persuasion to love this book! (Yes, the cover is gorgeous, especially the font!)

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  3. You're right--so character-driven. Even though the setting and the past and all that are important, it would be nothing without those fantastic characters!!

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    1. Characters are important to my enjoyment of a novel :)

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  4. I like the importance of social mannerisms in this novel. I have yet to read it, but I certainly want to. It seems to me that not many authors are willing to tackle class issues, and to have a high class protagonist who feels bad for the low class that is suffering at the expense of her luxury seems very interesting. It's not something that's in every YA novel these days, and novels, at times, have become extremely repetitive with their themes.

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    1. I love how society plays a large part in the novel. This is an amazing book. You should definitely pick up a copy!

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  5. Great review! I love this cover and was wondering if the book was good. I like dystopians and this book sounds like it has wonderful characters and an original story. I like reading about human flaws and am curious to see how the author handles it. Thanks for the info!

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    1. It is more than good; it's amazing. You should definitely read FOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS!

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    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  6. Great review! I've been looking forward to reading this and characters are an important aspect of a book for me so this should be great ;)

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    1. Characters are also important to me in a novel. You'll enjoy this book!

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  7. I LOVE your review. I am in the middle of this book and it is very much breaking my heart into little pieces. But I have faith it will turn out well for Eliott! :-)

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  8. Thank you for the review. I just got this book in the mail and it's on my up-next list! I hope it lives up to my excitement :o)

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