Mitch's Reviews > For Darkness Shows the Stars

For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund
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Jul 01, 12

Read from June 12 to 13, 2012

Personally, I would just read Persuasion. Dystopian retellings seem to be all the rage these days and For Darkness Shows the Stars is no exception; at this point I'm convinced all these authors and publishers are all thinking, let's add a bleak futuristic setting and some moral quandaries to all our plots and profit! (Either that or the good old vampire/werewolf/angel trifecta.) Too bad you do actually need more than that for a good book - I've read Persuasion and I've read good dystopians, and this is neither a good Persuasion adaptation nor a good dystopian.

Where to start? The first half of this book was really boring. I liked how Peterfreund transforms Anne Elliot Elliot from a weaker character in the original into a really strong heroine and having her take a much more active role in managing Kellynch Hall the North Estate, but that's about it. Peterfreund takes way too long setting up the backstory - basically people in the future perform genetic manipulation on themselves (the Reduction) leading to all their kids (the Reduced) being mentally challenged. And just to spite everyone who didn't get gene therapy, those who did blow up the world. Except a bunch of people who believed gene therapy went against God's will (the Luddites) survived and now they use the Reduced as slave labor until the Reduced start birthing kids with normal IQ (the Posts), hence the first moral dilemma of using Posts as basically slaves. And of course, the second's whether or not it's ok to develop new technologies, in case that leads to another Reduction. Seriously, that didn't need to take up half the book.

I have to admit, those dilemmas got really interesting in the second half. Elliot, no surprise, is a big advocate of Post rights against her traditionalist father and sister, but I loved how she's torn between Luddite antitechnology sensibilities and the desire to improve the welfare of the Reduced on her estate by embracing the new Post inventions. Because both sides make sense, there are strong arguments for either position, and I loved seeing Elliot's internal debate with herself. And some of the twists genuinely surprised me, particularly the ones having to do with illegal gene therapy; they tossed a huge wrench in Elliot and Kai's relationship and really challenged Elliot's attitude towards the Posts and what they're trying to do. But ... nothing else happens, we go directly from her being horrified by what the Posts are doing to ending up happily with Kai ... um, what? The protocols against gene research aren't garbage, they serve a purpose, and Elliot's quick change of heart felt far too naive and convenient.

As for the Persuasion adaptation, I guess For Darkness Shows the Stars is best when it tracks the Austen original. Because a lot of the extra bells and whistles, like all the cute letters between Elliot and Kai, really didn't work for me. So they were childhood friends and Elliot eventually did something unforgiveable to Kai, really didn't give the impression of much of an epic romance. And somehow Kai ended up being a bigger douche than Captain Wentworth - Kai's not just cold and distant, but is almost maliciously cruel at times, not really a good thing. I think Elliot went easy on him in the end.

Really, For Darkness Shows the Stars falls victim to my pet peeve with a lot of the current crop of dystopians, they try to explore some really deep themes and never quite get to what they seem to be aiming for, always end up disappointing me. Either make your book fun and not so heavy or get it right, dammit.
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Reading Progress

06/12/2012 page 52
13.0% "Maybe it's just me not liking dystopians generally, but I'm being generous when I say this book is terrible ..."
06/12/2012 page 108
27.0% "Still terrible ..."

Comments (showing 1-13 of 13) (13 new)

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message 1: by Melissa (new)

Melissa Lol omg I'm so sorry!


Mitch Nah, I liked about 30% of the book starting at around the half way point. Disappointing overall, but maybe you'll like it?


message 3: by Melissa (new)

Melissa Haha no way I'm reading it now! List is far too long... My endless gratitude for proof reading it for me!! :)


Mitch Well, a lot of people seem to like it. Besides the boring start (50%) and the rushed end (20%) is was good, like I said. But too much I didn't like :(


message 5: by Lea (new) - rated it 2 stars

Lea I really hadn't thought about the interesting moral dilemmas this book brought up, but I guess that is one plus about it. Unfortunately, I was so disappointed in the romance and so disgusted with Kai's horrible behavior towards Elliot, that it was hard for me to concentrate on those things that I did like! I didn't think Elliot staying behind was unforgivable at all-- if anything, she was just trying to be responsible and take care of the family farm. Great review! :)


message 6: by Mitch (last edited Jun 25, 2012 05:34PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Mitch Cool, I thought Kai was really douchey too, and I really don't pay much attention to the romance usually. Wentworth in the original was kind of cold to Anne, but Peterfreud probably went a little too far with it here. Thanks.


message 7: by Kimberly (new)

Kimberly I just stumbled across this book, and as I was reading the synopsis, I kept saying "Hang on, this sounds exactly like Persuasion!" I'm glad for your review since you actually read Persuasion, which is my favorite novel by Austen. I think I'll be skipping this one :) Great review!


Mitch Thanks! Yes this is a dystopian Persuasion adaptation and I thought was far weaker than the Austen.


Leah Woah woah woah- you guys got it all wrong. You don't have to compare it to Persuasion. It is an amazing book without taking into account how well/not well she retold it. If you have already read Persuasion, and you thought they were too much alike, well boohoo for you. And Lea, people sometimes do things like Kai out of pure love. He was so angry that they weren't together, that he thought that she thought she was better than him, that they wouldn't be able to love each other for the rest of eternity. He was mad that she didn't love him back, (or so he thought) because he gave so much of his heart to her. and how can you even pick up this book without wanting to pay much attention toe the romance? that is the whole point/conflict/plot/story/book. if you even read the synopsis, then you would be able to tell that. apparently we have completely different perspectives of life.


message 10: by Mitch (new) - rated it 1 star

Mitch It's my opinion, I didn't like it, but I'm glad you did. *shrugs* I'm not saying it's too much like Persuasion, I'm saying I liked the original more than this adaptation for the reasons I mentioned, and I paid attention to the dystopian elements more than the romance because I feel that was the point of this adaptation, the dystopian spin, but you're free to disagree.


message 11: by Abby (new) - rated it 4 stars

Abby I agree, I felt like the book was a summary of another book. I liked it because it had promise. I've never read Persuasion so I can't compare them but I felt like a lot was missing from the book.


Eilonwy I'm coming in late, and I enjoyed the book more than you did, but your line: "But ... nothing else happens, we go directly from her being horrified by what the Posts are doing to ending up happily with Kai ... um, what? The protocols against gene research aren't garbage, they serve a purpose, and Elliot's quick change of heart felt far too naive and convenient." YES! This ending gave me complete whiplash. It was like, "Whoa, time to end this story. Okay, done!"


message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

Glad to see that someone else wasn't buying it either! I was so bored!!!!!


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