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Review: Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund

Friday, December 27, 2013

Across a Star-Swept Sea

(For Darkness Shows the Stars #2)
by Diana Peterfreund

Genre: YA post-apocalyptic, sci-fi fantasy
Hardback: 464 Pages
Publication: October 15, 2013 by Balzer & Bray


Centuries after wars nearly destroyed civilization, the two islands of New Pacifica stand alone, a terraformed paradise where even the Reduction—the devastating brain disorder that sparked the wars—is a distant memory. Yet on the isle of Galatea, an uprising against the ruling aristocrats has turned deadly. The revolutionaries’ weapon is a drug that damages their enemies’ brains, and the only hope is rescue by a mysterious spy known as the Wild Poppy.

On the neighboring island of Albion, no one suspects that the Wild Poppy is actually famously frivolous aristocrat Persis Blake. The teenager uses her shallow, socialite trappings to hide her true purpose: her gossipy flutternotes are encrypted plans, her pampered sea mink is genetically engineered for spying, and her well-publicized new romance with handsome Galatean medic Justen Helo… is her most dangerous mission ever.

Though Persis is falling for Justen, she can’t risk showing him her true self, especially once she learns he’s hiding far more than simply his disenchantment with his country’s revolution and his undeniable attraction to the silly socialite he’s pretending to love. His darkest secret could plunge both islands into a new dark age, and Persis realizes that when it comes to Justen Helo, she’s not only risking her heart, she’s risking the world she’s sworn to protect.

◆ A copy was provided by Harper Collins for review ◆

In Across a Star-Swept Sea, Diana Peterfreund introduces a land just as broken and in need of healing as the one in For Darkness Shows the Stars.

Persis is a much bolder noble-born girl than Elliot. Though both have a strong sense of duty, Persis takes a flashier approach to her definition of duty by dropping out of school and taking on two personas: (1) the superficial socialiate that gets on her own nerves and (2) the Wild Poppy, super spy and savior of the Galatean political prisoners. Though I'm not typically fond of the rebellious teenager, Persis is easily relatable. Sure, she doesn't always listen to reason, but it's clear that her heart is in the right place and she actually has a brain, which isn't always apparent in the rebellious teenager of YA lit. I can't say as much for Justen, who falls closer to the genius scientist stereotype; he's research crazy and feels like he has to solve the world's problems on his own. Still, he's a likable enough character, if a bit flat.

I do wish that there was more character development. This is what's preventing me from giving that 5-star rating I'd love to give. Other than Persis, most of the other characters seem flat, which is further driven by their lack of page time. And as much as I love Persis and Justen, I just don't feel the connection between them. It doesn't help that  Persis and Justen don't have anything between them other than what they can allow themselves to show each other. Because of this, they don't really know each other, and this is what makes the romance hard to believe. Justen only sees the supercial socialite Persis "Flake" (as she calls that persona), whom he doesn't view as being intelligent enough to consider a serious relationship, though he's attracted to her kindness and beauty. Persis admires Justen's intelligence and his heritage; however, she has trouble trusting him because of his connection to the revolution in Galatea. I would have liked to see more of their developing romance spread throughout the novel and definitely more interaction between the two. Then it wouldn't feel so much like insta-love at the end. The same goes for Princess Isla and her surprising love interest. In fact, I would have also liked to see more of the other characters, who are sadly missing for much of the story. Lacan especially was an interesting character that we don't see much of.

I would have also liked to see more world building. While there is backstory woven into the book, much of the focus is on Persis's ventures as the Wild Poppy, and we don't get to see much of the world outside of this. I would have liked to learn more about the politics of the New Pacifica countries and their relationship and how it has changed since the revolution. I would also have liked to see more of the happenings in Albion, especially as one of Persis's reasons for taking on the persona of the Wild Poppy was to protect her friend Princess Isla, who (being female) holds little power as the regent for her baby brother Albie.

Nevertheless, the writing is just as beautiful as I remember from For Darkness Shows the Stars, and the story was easy to follow. I also love how this book connects with For Darkness Shows the Stars and wish that more of this angle was explored. We can only hope that there's a third companion novel :)

  1. For Darkness Shows the Stars
  2. Across a Star-Swept Sea
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1 comment on "Review: Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund"
  1. I am really hoping that there is going to be another book, both are soooo good. Wonderful review.


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