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For Darkness Shows the Stars

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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.

407 pages, Hardcover

First published June 12, 2012

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About the author

Diana Peterfreund

51 books2,051 followers
Diana Peterfreund has been a costume designer, a cover model, and a food critic. Her travels have taken her from the cloud forests of Costa Rica to the underground caverns of New Zealand (and as far as she’s concerned, she’s just getting started). Diana graduated from Yale University in 2001 with dual degrees in Literature and Geology, which her family claimed would only come in handy if she wrote books about rocks. Now, this Florida girl lives with her husband and their puppy in Washington D.C., and writes books that rock

Her first novel, Secret Society Girl (2006), was described as “witty and endearing” by The New York Observer and was placed on the New York Public LIbrary’s 2007 Books for the Teen Age list. The follow-up, Under the Rose (2007) was deemed “impossible to put down” by Publisher’s Weekly, and Booklist called the third book, Rites of Spring (Break) (2008), “an ideal summer read.” The final book in the series, Tap & Gown, will be released in 2009. All titles are available from Bantam Dell.

She also contributed to the non-fiction anthologies, Everything I Needed to Know About Being a Girl I Learned from Judy Blume, edited by Jennifer O’Connell (Pocket Books, 2007), The World of the Golden Compass, edited by Scott Westerfeld (BenBella Books, 2007), and Through the Wardrobe, edited by Herbie Brennan (BenBella Books, 2008).

Her first young adult novel, Rampant, an adventure fantasy about killer unicorns and the virgin descendents of Alexander the Great who hunt them, will be released by Harper Collins in 2009. When she’s not writing, Diana volunteers at the National Zoo, adds movies she has no intention of watching to her Netflix queue, and plays with her puppy, a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever named Rio.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,721 reviews
Profile Image for Jessica ❁ ➳ Silverbow ➳ ❁ .
1,258 reviews8,699 followers
August 11, 2016
Reviewed by: Rabid Reads

I don't care how cliché it is, I love Jane Austen.

I've read Pride and Prejudice half a dozen times. I've read Emma at least twice that, and I've read Sense and Sensibility and Mansfield Park a time or two as well. We won't even get into how many times I've watched their movie counterparts, b/c that could be embarrassing.

Know what I haven't read and/or watched numerous times?



YES, I admit it. The first time I read this book, I had never read Jane Austen's Persuasion. I'm pretty sure I'd seen the BBC miniseries or movie version, but it had been looooooong ago, and who cares, anyway?--Having seen the movie (perhaps) at some point in the indefinite past doesn't make me any less of a fraud.

*hangs head in shame*

There's good news though. Chances are you haven't read Persuasion either. In fact, a lot of you are probably wondering why I'm blathering on about Jane Austen to begin with . . .

YEP. Thought so.

But there is a reason (there is always a reason), and that reason is Diana Peterfreund's For Darkness Shows the Stars is a sci-fi/post apocalypse/dystopian retelling of . . . wait for it . . . Jane Austen's Persuasion.

And it is FANTASTIC.

Elliot North lives in a world devastated by genetic modification. A Luddite, she is a member of the lone surviving intelligent people group of the wars that followed the general population's discovery that their genetic tampering had doomed their offspring to existing in a diminished capacity.

Having shunned the treatment, the Luddites and their own offspring were unaffected, and when the dust settled, pious souls that they were, they took it as their sacred duty to shelter and protect the Reduced.

That the Reduced provided free labor on plantation-like properties . . . well, that was just a byproduct of the whole nasty situation.

BUT several generations later, the Reduced began to infrequently give birth to non-Reduced children. A few generations after that, and while still a rare occurrence, the number of non-Reduced children was steadily increasing.

Kai is one such child, and Elliot's best and only childhood friend, but he left the North estate four years ago to try and build a better life for himself.

There are Post-Reduction settlements, you see, where non-Reduced people live free of Luddite interference/persecution/enslavement.

Elliot was meant to go with him, but she was all that stood between her dangerously idiotic father and the people, both Reduced and Post Reduction, who depended on her family's estate for their survival.

So she did not go.

But he has never left her thoughts.

For Darkness Shows the Stars is a deliciously painful story of love and loss, of misunderstanding, of evil in the world and triumph over that evil. It's a story of hope and adventure. And it's also a cautionary tale that details the dangers of two very different extremes.

This is the third time I've read this book, and I've loved it a little more each time. For Darkness Shows the Stars is one of those rare books that I unreservedly recommend to EVERYONE.

Jessica Signature
Profile Image for Simona B.
892 reviews2,986 followers
February 20, 2017
"When we have the ability to save someone’s life, and we decide they aren’t worthy of being saved—isn’t that playing God as well?"

And this is a selling point in itself. On top of that, Diana Peterfreund rendered a perfect Austenian atmosphere, and Elliot North's character is incredibly true to the original. I was completely amazed and surprised; even my wildest expectations didn't contemplate such consistency to the hypotext.

This book made me feel so strongly. Sometimes I think that good books are actually a bit less rare than we compulsive readers think, and that we chance upon them more often than we realize, it's just that not all of them are right for us. Books are like gloves: they must fit your hand to a T. Well, For Darkness Shows the Stars must be my perfect fit, because I felt, I felt, I felt. I was angry and frustrated and nostalgic and lovesick. It was beautiful, and something I hadn't experienced in quite a while.

•I liked the world building too. It's not particularly imaginative, but it had its original points. It struck me as slightly too naive at times, though, and the lack of scientific in-depth information made itself felt (but that may be only because I have a thing for genetics and as a result I was dying to know the specifics of this genetic disaster that took place in an indeterminate past). All in all, it presents some weak spots, but generally speaking, it works well.

•I know many who have read the book don't agree with this, but Elliot's struggle felt real to me. She is presented with the option to embrace a new reality that profoundly frightens her but also to which she feels an unmistakable pull, and I don't think her change of mind is sudden or convenient, on the contrary, it proceeds at a perfectly appropriate pace throughout the book. We shouldn't forget the she had taken the first steps on her own and way before the narration started, after all.

•Sometimes I wished Elliot and Kai interacted more -of course not to the point of exhausting the dramatic potential of their situation, which is huge (seriously, huge), just a little bit more. But again, the way things are dealt with is exquisitely Austenian, so, not complaining.

"Dear Elliot,
I can wait in silence no longer."

THAT LETTER. You know I've got a soft spot for long, sentimental, teary love declarations. (Maybe 'soft spot' is kind of an understatement: to give you a sense of how they make me feel, I liked even Rhys's in ACoMaF in spite of hating to pieces the whole book. Mine is a severe case.) I want to quote the whole letter, I loved it so much, exactly like I love the one in the actual Persuasion. My heart is a puddle of goo ad I'm happy.

For Darkenss Shows the Stars is on my part not only recommended, but I would personally send a copy to all of you if only I could. This novel is heart-warming, well-written, deliciously poignant. I'm incredibly grateful to the author for this jewel of a book.
May 17, 2016

"People are foolish when it comes to love."
Elliot hadn't been. She'd been rational, logical, reasonable, prudent. She'd been cold and cruel and disloyal and distant.
She hadn't been foolish.
She'd been the most foolish girl on the island.

So look, guys. Here's the thing. I'm not big on bashing books-especially when a new friend took the time to make a huge list of recs for me. And also because this book wasn't bad in any way, shape, or form. It had excellent writing, beautiful tension, and a pretty cool and unique plot: It just wasn't for me.

I don't mind books that are more build-up than action, I never have, but I guess in my mind I had imagined a big bang of an ending after all the two main characters had been through. And, frankly, I didn't quite get the world they lived in. *shrugs* And, again, this doesn't even bother me.

No, what bothers me is that I just didn't care...and that's not a good thing. I skimmed more often than not to get to Kai and I kept waiting for all these things to happen and they...I mean...they didn't. Now, I had seen somewhere in a review that this was a retelling of a Jane Austen novel, or rather that it was based on it or whatever (it's early and I frankly don't want to think of a different way of saying it, right or wrong, lol), so, in the back of my mind, I knew not much would go on. But I put up this mental block and imagined how awesome it would be...and sadly, with all the science and stuff, I was bored more often than not.

And that's the thing-If there had been even a little payoff after I'd wasted my weekend on this, it might have easily been a three. If there had been some action at the end (hell, I KNOW this is my fault, but just saying, to be clear) it might have been a four. But, as it was, I was confused, bored, and always waiting for Kai to steal the show....and he can't be the only reason I like a book: That would be preposterous.

(^^Even if this has been the case for me, a lot, eeps!) So, ya know, not going to waste any more time talking about how I misinterpreted what this book was going to be about (again, duh on me lol) and how I only highlighted one passage for this review (one!!!!! It's madness, I tell you!) and instead I'll move on to something different. As it is, I'm going through a bit of a, hmm, not slump? But I'm struggling to find just what suits my fancy right now. So, ya know, on to like all of your reviews.....better than blabbering on about the same 'ol things. Maybe some of you will love this (in fact, many of you have) and will be better suited to enjoy it-as for me, I think I'll forget about it immediately after finishing this review. Toodles.

For more of my reviews, please visit:

Well that was...anti-climactic. :/


I'm sorry but...I went through all that scientific crap and waited for the hero and heroine to get to...that???

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No me gusta at all.

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For more of my reviews, please visit:

Profile Image for Arlene.
1,156 reviews641 followers
January 27, 2012
Rating Clarification: 4.5 stars

For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund is an ambitious retelling of the classic Persuasion by Jane Austen. I’ll admit now that I’m not well versed when it comes to Austen and I’m probably one of the last few who hasn’t read Pride and Prejudice. However, Persuasion is one that I enjoyed actually a couple of years ago, so Captain Wentworth is to me what Mr. Darcy is to other Austen fans. Overall, to experience Diana’s journey through the frame of reference of Persuasion was actually quite enjoyable and well worth the time and emotion I afforded this novel.

Peterfreund’s story is very unique as it takes a well known classic and puts a Dystopic or slightly SciFi twist to the story. I feel where other authors would possibly fail miserably in this attempt, Peterfreund took a daring approach and really made the story work. She pulls you into her novel using the familiar setting of Persuasion, but at calculated moments she infuses some back-story and elements that are uniquely her own. She’s actually quite crafty with her approach as she doesn’t catch you off guard and confuse the reader, but rather has you digging for more details as she piques your curiosity at well-timed moments.

I did have a hard time pinning the time reference of this novel. It’s definitely set in the undefined future, but there were events and details that made the novel feel almost historical in nature with the lack of technology, rudimentary medical practices; and even the attire felt not of modern times. It’s almost like humanity regressed in many ways both in knowledge and innovation. Either way, where in other novels the ambiguity would possibly frustrate me, I found myself easily suspending my reality and quite intrigued.

Luddite Elliot North, the MC of this story, is probably one of the most likeable female characters I’ve read in quite some time. She has a quiet strength and determination about her that I found admirable. Loyalty and compassion are two character traits I appreciate and Elliot carried them in spades. There were times when I wanted to just scream at the other characters in this novel that either hurt or threatened Elliot in some way, but she held her own quite well, defended herself when it was necessary and walked away when she had nothing to gain. I loved that about her. There wasn’t one moment in this story where my allegiance and compassion for this character wavered and she was a worthy narrator of this journey.

Overall, I highly recommend this novel for fans of Persuasion. However, if you’ve never read the classic, that won’t take away from the magic For Darkness Shows the Stars has to offer. If anything, you’ll experience twists and outcomes in a spoiler free fashion. This novel is a perfect blend of engaging and captivating. Well done!
Profile Image for Mitch.
355 reviews605 followers
July 1, 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.
Profile Image for Angie.
645 reviews995 followers
March 6, 2012
Originally reviewed here.

I know this is an almost unpardonably early review. But honestly, I waited on it as long as I possibly could before the effort of holding it in caused me some sort of bodily harm. I've been anxiously looking forward to FOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS for going on two years now, and the day an ARC showed up on my doorstep was just a very good day indeed. When a book you've been dying to read finally falls into your lap, do you ever just hold onto it and savor the possibilities? I do. I did with this one for a little while. Don't get me wrong, sometimes I just tear into it immediately. But sometimes I don't. Because sometimes dreaming about it while you're actually holding it in your hands is special, too. So I savored and I dreamt and I started reading and . . . I was gone. My first reaction to finishing it was a sense of complete satisfaction mingled with sadness that it was over. My second was thinking that I cannot wait to see FOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS work its magic on readers far and wide. As post-apocalyptic retellings of classics go, it pretty much killed it on all levels for this devoted Austen girl.

Elliot North knows how to work hard. As a member of the elite Luddite nobility, she has a keen sense of what is expected of her, of which actions are acceptable and which ones could get you disowned and out on the streets. It is that very sense of duty that kept her from following her childhood friend Kai four years ago, when he fled servitude on her father's estate for a life of uncertainty and, just possibly, freedom. Their friendship was forbidden from the beginning, as Kai belongs to the Post-Reductionist class, and ever since the catastrophic Reduction, matters or birth and class ruthlessly define every aspect of a person's life. But now, four long years have passed, and at eighteen years old, Elliot is the only thing keeping the family lands going. As her father and sister grow further distanced from reality, the world as they know it is changing. Determined not to be left behind, Elliot convinces her family to lease the land to a group of unusual shipwrights known as Cloud Fleet. Hoping the extra income will save her home, Elliot is, well, gobsmacked when one of the renowned shipwrights turns out to be none other than her old friend--no longer playful, open Kai, but smart, remote Captain Malakai Wentforth. Elliot knows how to work hard, but even she may not be up to the task of withstanding the flood of guilt and longing that threatens to overtake her with his return. Especially given the suspicions that being to swirl in her head regarding just what he and his fleet are up to.

Everything about this book soars, from its supernal setting to the dreams its characters hold in their hearts. Having read (and adored) Persuasion for years now, it was extremely gratifying to see the massive amounts of care and thought that went into the crafting of this story inspired by Jane Austen's final novel. In fact, I felt a healthy dose of admiration for the storytelling the entire time I was reading it. But the wonderful bit is that it won me over on its own strengths entirely. The world and its sinister history, the characters and their eerily perfect names, the writing and its effortless flow--they're all so interlocked and balanced, coming together so as to make hours go by like seconds. I may have been predisposed to like Elliot, but the way my heart launched itself into my throat when hers did, the way my temper rose on her behalf, and the way I held my breath at her restraint and cheered her adamant refusal to be downtrodden . . . I more-than-liked Elliot. I more-than-liked Kai (even when I wanted to hurt him). And most of all, I more-than-liked the brilliant ending. Here is one of my favorite non-spoilery passages (taken from my uncorrected ARC), in which you get a feel for the way the writing lauds the original while extending it to support the strengths of these new characters and their spectacular world:
Elliot had had enough. "If you can't be civil to me, Miss Phoenix, I wish you'd leave me in peace. I have never done anything to you, and if you seek to punish me for past misdeeds, there is nothing you can devise that I haven't already suffered." Four years of worrying about Kai, followed by all these weeks of having him back here, but hating her. Was that not punishment enough?

"You baffle me, Miss Elliot," Andromeda replied in the same high-wrought tone. "I can't reconcile the young woman I see before me with the reports I have had."

What lies had Kai been spreading abroad? "I'm sorry to hear that, but it's none of my concern. I am the same person I've always been." She turned her face away from Andromeda, away from the crowd and from Kai. "Maybe you should ask yourself why, if I am the person you've been led to believe, someone would put their faith in me at all?"

"People are foolish when it comes to love."

Elliot hadn't been. She'd been rational, logical, reasonable, prudent. She'd been cold and cruel and disloyal and distant.

She hadn't been foolish.

She'd been the most foolish girl on the island.

Great, no? The killer thing about Elliot (have I mentioned how much I love her?) is that she has all the layers. She's the perfect blend of unmitigated strength and harbored regret. Every moment of every day she embodies dedication and resolve, all the while trying to mask the hope and the pain she lives with every moment of every single day. Here is Elliot:
No one came. Not her sister or her father, not Benedict or the Fleet Posts or even Admiral Innovation. No one appeared in the hall all afternoon but the mute, shuffling figures of the Reduced housemaids as they went about their chores. Time passed, and Elliot sat in the chair, waiting for the verdict from Felicia.

How much of her life had she spent waiting? Waiting for a plant to sprout? Waiting for her father's judgment? Waiting for another letter to appear in the knothole from Kai? Waiting for years after Kai left to feel at peace with her decision? She fed the Reduced, she did her chores, she avoided her father and her sister, and she waited. She did every duty she'd been taught as a Luddite, and she lied with every breath.

I'd say I don't know what to say, but I do. And it's this. Snatch it up the day it comes out--this beautiful book--this meticulous, breathtaking retelling of one of the greatest love stories ever penned.

Lastly, I just want to thank Diana Peterfreund (from the bottom of my heart) for page 117. Got it in one!
Profile Image for oliviasbooks.
774 reviews514 followers
January 8, 2021
"'What's so funny? […] That you take a little spill from a horse and everyone wants to rearrange the world so you don't suffer a moment of inconvenience?' 'No,' she said, and her voice was even. 'That I would wait a month in agony just to hear you insult me. I'm a miserable girl indeed, don't you think?'"

The lion’s share of my rating decision is always based on my own personal enjoyment of a book. And my ability to enjoy a book certainly depends on the characters and how they manage to move me, the world-building, the believability, the writing style, the pull, the absence or existence of certain things, but expectations and my reading history play a great part, too (This is, by the way, also one of the reasons why I want the option to rate each book more than once).

I loved-loved reading this dystopian young adult adaption of my favorite Jane Austen novel so much that I went on reading on my walk from the train station to my workplace, and that I did not mind the embarrassing stares from other commuters, when I soaked tissue after tissue in plain view, because feeling so sorry for Elliot North hurt almost as bad as feeling sorry for Anne Elliot does. I would not say the book is perfect or flawless. Persuasion is, in my eyes, but I did not expect perfection. But what did I expect? Obviously my expectations were somehow met, but apart from the fact that they were astonishingly high in spite of my extreme dislike for Diana Peterfreund’s unicorn experiment Rampant, I did not press them into a shape before starting to read. But maybe I can reconstruct them so the still undecided potential reader can compare them to her own.

I am one of those young adult fiction readers who rather embrace both the still raging dystopian trend and the slowly rising science fiction tendency as long as the world building is not so vague that my reading process slows dangerously down towards a full-stop, because of all the question marks in my head that beg to be dealt with, or so silly and illogical that little Miss Sneer gets comfortable on my shoulder and starts whispering atrocious ways to make fun of the whole mess into my weary ear. When I encountered the first descriptions of For Darkness Shows the Stars I hoped for “Persuasion in Space”. Some reading experiences later I shifted my hope in the direction of something like Landry Park by Bethany Hagen, also an Austen-like love story set in front of a neo-feudalism future, which shows a lavish elite in a small, autarkic America exploiting and oppressing the the descendants of those people, who supposedly caused the nation's fall, by forcing them to handle nuclear waste. That second expectation has been fulfilled to the dot: Peterfreund's post-apocalyptic structure is quite similar, although the upper class' mindset is different: The heroine's ancestors survived with their genes and brains intact, because they condemned genetic enhancements and prosthetic organs on principle, while the majority of their high-tech-loving society involuntarily “reduced” their own and their offspring's brains to something functioning on toddler-level. The conservative survivors felt that their reluctance to play God had been rewarded. Consequently they shunned the non-bio-technological progress that had been made shortly before the so-called “Reduction” as well - including solar lamps and solar-powered vehicles. They embraced their new god-given superiority and kept their mentally reduced subjects alive by feeding and clothing and controlling them in exchange for hard labor. The recent increase of mentally healthy born “Children of the Reduction”, who call themselves “Post-Reductionists”, demand being granted freedom of choice and equal rights and are not afraid to tinker with forbidden technology, shakes up the regressing system of wealthy, God-fearing slave-owners and crumbling, rusty machinery. Although not much is said concerning where on our globe this small, secluded island is and how life looks like in "Channel City" or other places outside the large estates, I was very content with the world-building. I am aware that others might find fault, but I thought that the situation on the brink of a possible revolution was the perfect back-drop for a "forbidden" romance.

Romance. Oh yes. In a novel that is meant to be reminiscent of Jane Austen's work I expected romance. Preferably some that swelters and slowly burns and involves misunderstandings, old wounds, clever bickering, heated discussions about morals, love, society and the burden of being part of a family, musings about having to do the right thing, and letters and haughtiness and involuntary touches and the angst to be too late or to have made the wrong decision. A romance between a heroine I thoroughly adore and admire - in spite of her little flaws - and a swoon-worthy guy, who has his pride or his aloofness, who struggles with his feelings, but who is ultimately the good guy. That expectation was very well met.

I think I tentatively wished for a reincarnation of Persuasion's cast. Not only because Anne Elliot and Captain Frederick Wentworth are my favorite Austen couple, but also because the Musgrove family, specifically Charles, his mother and Anne's younger sister Mary are such a fabulous breeding ground for Austen's trademark wicked fun and for the emergence of squirm-worthy encounters between Anne and Captain Wentworth. In For Darkness Shows the Stars no clones are to be found. But true to her Post-Reductionist protagonists' mind-frames Peterfreund did not hesitate to mix and match, to experiment with Austen's best outcrop: You will find a lot of Anne and more than a half of Captain Wentworth; Elizabeth and Mary are conglomerated into still-unmarried Tatiana, Baron North is at first as silly and vain and self-centered as Sir Walter, but surprises us later with additional character traits. The Admiral, his wife and Captain Benwick play a much greater role, while Lady Russel, Mrs. Smith and the older Musgroves are absent. Louisa and Henrietta work beautifully as one person, Mr. Elliot has a new shell, Charles is still available and not embarrassing at all and Mrs. Clay has been completely remodeled and relocated. Due to the focus on the new dystopian setting previously unknown characters are introduced. In this aspect my expectations have not exactly been met, but apart from craving a little dose of satire I did not suffer any want. For I learned to my own surprise that I really loved to hunt for traces of the well-loved characters in the newly created ones and I discovered that the chemistry and the relationships between Elliot and Kai, Elliot and her sister/father, Elliot and her neighbors and tenants strongly resembled the ones of the original. And that the repercussions of Elliot's decisions affected me as much as Anne's decisions and Anne's feelings of right and wrong did.

I cannot say for sure, but when I look back at my recent reading habits - the occasional, self-prescribed re-reading of all-time favorites and the huge craving for something new, preferably fresh from the printing press – I am convinced that I did not really wish for a in-minute-detail-retelling of a story that I have read approximately eight times in the last 20 years and that in my opinion cannot be told in a better way than it already has been told. In my opinion that would have been the equivalent of a Shakespeare play translated into sparse, modern language and acted out on a Battlestar Galactica set. Diana Peterfreund uses the Persuasion storyline as an inspiration and rewards the reader now and then with scenes that make our inner detective snip our fingers in appreciation: "Ah! That will turn into 'The Long Walk', probably ending with some touching," or "This is probably the equivalent of the weekend in Lyme". I can only say I loved that feeling. To me rushing unexpectedly into these scenes felt like being surprised by old friends visiting. My expectations concerning the plot have been exceeded, so to say, although I have to admit I guessed the Innovation's party's big secret much too early and am not completely satisfied with the ending.

And finally I can say that this is the Persuasion retelling that I loved best of the three I have faced until now. I also liked Melissa Nathan's contemporary chicklit version Persuading Annie, but I loathed the change of point-of-view in the fan-fiction-like None But You.

What are your expectations, when you are faced with a retelling or an adaption of a story your adore and the decision whether to go for it or not?
Profile Image for Komal Mikaelson.
50 reviews325 followers
May 14, 2013
Initial Reaction After Completion

Why? Why, am I always deceived by pretty covers? I mean just look at the cover.
It is so pwweetttyy.
And the story it encapsulates: dreadful, painful.

You know I hate biology. And I absolutely loathe crop management. I never understood that topic because I never bothered learning it. It was plain ol' boring. Now imagine a book that pops 'genetics of wheat' every other page.
It is a big deal I completed it at all.

The book felt like a stinky, lacklustre mishmash of
Legend, Under the Never Sky and Gone with the Wind. All the major points constituting the plot are derived from the said books and presented in an unflattering manner, divesting it of all it's initial charm.

The Plot

The book presents a divided world. It's a story when, the humans, blinded by their greed and hubris, advanced so far in the medical and technological sciences they started to believe they were God. But there was a small group which was against all the genetic manipulation and abstained from supporting the fanatics. So, when the wrath of God fell, the fanatical scientists were "Reduced", marking the birth of a race which could not even speak properly. The abstainers became the Luddites, caretakers of the rest of humanity. The most superior of them all.

The first half of the book was all over the place. I couldn't make neither head or tale of whatever the hell was happening.
Too much new jargon presented in a chaotic fashion: utter confusion.

I understand every book has a new setting, a new realm which is unraveled slowly as the story progresses. But in here, instead of gaining insights into the plot, it was all piled up in a disorienting manner, which totally messed up the plot.

But, even then, at least the story was progressing, albeit slowly. And then comes the second half.
There were many complications that had studiously come up in the first half that had the potential to make it an interesting read. It would have been fun to see how the protagonist deals with them all.

But no.
It felt, everything sorted itself out perfectly. Every fucking thing. I mean, every hurdle, every difficulty that could liven up the book, resolved perfectly, a little too perfectly, paving way for a lazy attempt at Happily Ever After.

The Characters


She is just a doormat. She does have some moments of awesomeness, like when she stood up to her father, when she helps Ro, when she calls Kai on his bullshit. But that's it. They were surely admirable, but they didn't cut out her other faults. Most of the time she is being pushed all over the place by her father, by Tatiana or Kai.
Ah, Kai!
She is so utterly stupid, when it comes to that boy. Stop whining over him. Get over him. Move on.

There is a whole wide world outside of that one boy, girl. But no, every time he's rude to her, hurts her, she goes crawling back to him. Every single time. Ever heard of dignity or maybe self-respect?

And please girl, would you make up your mind, whether you want to stick to the protocols of your society or not? The whole indecisive, guilty monologues were getting old, pretty fast.

Baron North

It seemed as the author tried too hard to give him a villain-y feel. It just wasn't believable.
The man was intelligent and aware enough to see through Elliot's deception with wheat, but apparently imbecile enough to let his estate thrown out to dogs. As evil as he is, he can't be that callous to cut out a perfect asset, the orchard, for a better view of sea. Wait..what?
How can he be that stupid? His character was too underdeveloped. He was portrayed as stupid and sharp interchangeably as the script needed. He doesn't know shit about workings of a farm and spends money frivolously. He doesn't care about his workers/Reduced/Posts and treats them harshly. Now, why would a Baron do that? Does he intentionally want his estate to fail and him bankrupt?

The whole character was riddled with discrepancies. Things were just not adding up and kept contradicting each other.

And the love story.
Not really a love story. Every thing felt too obvious. The flashbacks, the uncaring attitude, the "angst-ridden" love.
Who in their right minds could actually buy Kai's love for Olivia? Is everyone fucking blind? It was an exasperating attempt to introduce drama into the plot. It was glaringly obvious he didn't give a shit.
Consequently, the magnificent climax that we were supposed to be anxiously waiting for, fell completely flat.

Way too obvious.

The ending was too rushed. Everything was molded into a happy ending. We don't get to know what actually made Elliot reconcile to the advantages of genetic modification or what happens to rest of the world. We are just supposed to be happy because Kai and Elliot get together at the end. Unsatisfying.

This was a read-along with Cecile. You can read her rant review here.
Profile Image for gio.
1,019 reviews386 followers
May 1, 2016
I have very mixed feelings to be honest. Like, I could give it four stars, but two stars as well. Uhm.

*has to go out for dinner*
*review to come when I'm done stuffing myself with food*
*if I'm not dead*

Actual "review" *I'm totally dying 'cause I ate like a pig so...it sucks, but this is what you get*

Ok, let's point this out: I haven't read Persuasion. And to be honest I don't even plan to read it anytime soon, so it's quite obvious that I can't judge For Darkness Show The Stars as a retelling, nor can I tell if this will be loved by hardcore Austen fans, because I'm not one of them.

From what I gathered from other people's reviews this seems to be quite true to the original book, at least when it comes to the main characters' relationship, but I can't tell for sure.

Anyway, FDStS confused me a lot. I do still have lots of mixed feelings about this book, which is the main reason why you shouldn't take these 3 stars as the final rating.

I do realise though that there were so many things that bothered me. The idea itself was good, but some things weren't developed at all (see world building) and that's a big no for me.

> World building: AH. No. If you want to create a Dystopian world you can't expect me to settle for a brief explanation like "things are like this because God said so. So now the Luddites rule.". I mean, the concept itself was really interesting and I would have loved to read more about it, but the little glimpses of world building we got didn't satisfy me at all.

> Ending: ...WTF. That's not an ending! It was so rushed and it didn't make much sense. I found Elliot's decision a bit OOC.

What I liked:

> I liked the story as a whole. It was a fast, compelling read and that was what I was looking for at least. I do see why this book would appeal to some people, and I liked it in a way, but I can't see myself giving it more than 3 stars for now.

> I liked the main characters' angsty relatioship, which is rather surprising because I loathe angst. But I liked the angst here, which is no small feat. I don't think I liked the two main characters much, because they could have been both developed more, but I liked their relationship.

> I liked the concept. As I said, I think the world building had much more potential, but I can't say I did not like what little of it I saw.

FDSTS has lots of flaws. But it is an enjoyable read and it does have redeeming qualities. I guess. Maybe?

*Cla you'd totally like it more than I did
Profile Image for Maggie.
431 reviews431 followers
April 26, 2013
I first heard about this book a year ago through Catie's fantastic review. As a fan of Persuasion, I figured this was an automatic skip. I mean, come on, Wentforth? And why is Coco Rocha modeling a dress on the cover? In space? Fast forward a year later, I saw this was available at my e-library and thought, Why not? Well, a funny thing happened on the way to the DNF Shelf. I loved it. And the thing is, objectively, I still agree with the points Catie made -- but sometimes, you have to go with your gut. In my case, my stomach was doing backflips as I read the scenes between Wentforth and Elliot.

In Persuasion, Anne Elliot and Frederick Wentworth are kept apart by class differences and societal expectations. I thought Peterfreund's approach of creating a feudalistic dystopia was brilliant. It's a modern take that makes the antiquated values that kept Anne Elliot in her place relevant. In For Darkness Shows the Stars, the world as we know it was destroyed by people who tried to go too far with scientific and technological advancements. In trying to unlock the secrets to the genetic code, people began experimenting on one another. The ERV procedure was given to babies to make them better, faster, stronger. However, the procedure resulted in generations of people being "reduced," their brains turned to mush. This became known as the Reduction. The people who refused ERV, called Luddites, ended up rebuilding in the aftermath of the Reduction and taking power. They blamed the reduced for trying to play God. The Norths are a prestigious old Luddite family. The Wentforths are CORs who live on the North estate. CORs are the children of the reduced, people who have finally escaped the effects of ERV generations later.

Diana Peterfreund knows her source material. Rather than try to compete with THE LETTER from Persuasion, she gives us a bunch of letters from the time Elliot and Kai are young. The Luddite baron's daughter and the COR mechanic's son can't be seen socializing so they leave letters for each in a knot in the barn wall. The absence of these letters once Kai leaves the North estate is felt as much as the absence of Kai himself. Elliot always glances at the knot when she enters the barn even though Kai has been gone for years. It's a detail I love so much. It's a longing for something that's long gone combined with a tiny hope of maybe.

One other significant change that I thought worked really well for a modern YA audience is the character of Elliot. There were things Anne Elliot couldn't do or be because of the times, her station, and her family. Elliot North is still under the thumb of her father but she has some independence from running the farm. She also chooses to stay behind, though it hurts her, because the responsibility she feels to the farm and everyone living on it. However, that's not to say she doesn't feel the loss of Kai acutely.
"His shadow fell across her lap, and she traces its edges with her hands."
That's all she allows herself. It's such a heartbreaking gesture.

A few years ago when Noelle was trying to get me to read Persuasion, she called Wentworth "a secret handshake." Diana Peterfreund goes one step further and makes him sleek and modern.

For Darkness Shows the Stars surprised me with its creative retelling of a classic. It's the remake I didn't know I wanted but now I can't wait for the next one. I am half agony, half hope.

This review appears on Young Adult Anonymous.
Profile Image for Alexa.
351 reviews278 followers
January 10, 2012
4.5 stars

Just some random thoughts...

I love the cover, but I don't think the girl looks like Elliot... :|

Elliot was awesome!! And there were so many times I wanted to comfort her because some of the characters were just cruel to her. :'( Some seriously deserve to get slapped! Those characters made me so angry! I wish I could have gone in there and drop kicked them in the face! Thankfully, the ones who were redeemed (like I knew they would be) I was able to forgive. ;)

This book was inspired by Persuasion by Jane Austen, which I haven't read. I know it's suppose to be a love story, but the sci-fi aspect REALLY intrigued me and I wanted a bit more of that. Other than that I'm happy with everything and that it's a stand-alone.

I loved the ending, especially the last couple of lines. :')
Profile Image for Rebecca.
591 reviews100 followers
July 22, 2012
This going to be DNF review for me. I made it to page 224. That's all I can do, I'm afraid. This is rather disappointing to me, because I was really looking forward to this book earlier in the year. But it did not live up to my expectations. I'm really glad I decided to get this from the library instead of the e-book or a physical copy.

The only reason I would consider displaying this on my bookshelf is the beautiful cover. However, this cover is a bit misleading. For one, the model looks nothing at all like Elliot is described. Elliot has brown skin and black hair. She also, as far as I read anyway, never wore a dress. The model on the cover has blonde hair, white skin, and a very pretty dress. I hate it when this happens. Why do people just slap something on the front of a book even when it holds no meaning to the story?

Elliot was a very responsible girl. She was logical, reasonable . . . and about as exciting as a peice of lint. She had an extremely flat personaility, and even when she's thinking about being romantic, she comes off as kind of calculating and just boring. I appreciated her maturity and respect, but there was nothing interesting about her.

Kai. I assume that he changes sometime later on in the book, but I just couldn't stand him one moment longer. He shouldn't hate her so much just because Elliot chose to stay and take her of her land after her mother died. If she had left, everything she left behind would have collapsed. As far as I can tell, Kai was a jerk. And not the brooding sexy kind. The kind you actually do want to punch in the face.

I liked the letters between Kai and Elliot in the beginning, but eventually I found myself wanting to skip over them, and skimming a book is something I rarely do.

There is no apparant villian in this story, for as far as I got. I guess Elliot's sister and father could be counted but . . . not really. There was nothing pulling this along, nothing that made it really interesting. I just had to go with the flo for a while, hoping it would get better. But. It didn't.

There's nothing wrong with Diana Peterfreund's writing. It's actually very nice. But good writing is not enough to save a story.

Some people think that you shouldn't write a review for a story that you did not complete. But I just don't believe in sticking with a story if it isn't holding your interest. I usually give a book about 100 pages, but I gave this one 200, simply because I was looking forward to it so much. I'm giving it two stars instead of one, however, because there were bits here and there I actually enjoyed.

It just wasn't enough.
Profile Image for Felicia.
Author 45 books128k followers
May 24, 2013
This is a fantasy YA retelling of Jane Austen's Persuasion, but since I hadn't read that book (I KNOW GUYS!) I read this without that frame of reference. And I STILL enjoyed it, so maybe I'll read Persuasion now and see if I like this book more.

Er, good thought? but nah.

Anyway this is set in an alt world where there's been an apocalypse because of tech and other scientific advancements that were abused, and the lead character, Elliot, is part of an old family that survived because they rejected the technology and hid during the apocalypse (the Luddites). Kai, a servant of the "Reduced", basically the "bad" guys who caused the apocalypse who are now slave-types, but who are evolving to be equals once again to the Luddites.

It's kind of hard to describe the world building in this book, but it's quite well done and is unveiled in a very interesting way as the book progresses. From genetic manipulation to airships, this is just a very unique world, and the secret that is unveiled about Kai as the book goes on is not predictable. I loved Elliot as a character, she wasn't the perfect character that always irritates me in YA novels, and I loved that she made choices that sometimes frustrated me in the romance, because they were very true to who she was as a person. Yes a few of the secondary characters were a bit "muhahaha" for me, but whatever. Overall it was quite enjoyable, so if you like dystopian YA stuff (and there is a LOT of that around) I would highly recommend this one!
Profile Image for Anne Osterlund.
Author 5 books5,517 followers
July 23, 2016
Elliot North is paradox. Born a Luddite, she is bound to protect the workers on her father’s estate and to follow the protocols, traditional laws set in place to ensure that mankind never again risks annihilation through its defiance of nature. But caring for the people on the North estate means finding a way to protect them from her father’s callousness. Which means seeing that her workers are fed. And that may require planting a special breed of wheat, a hybrid with a higher yield—something no Luddite should ever invent. But Elliot has.

When her father plows under her first high-yield crop, she fears that starvation for her family’s workers may be imminent. Until discovering a letter from an admiral requesting access to her grandfather’s boathouse—for a special project. The building of a ship for his renowned fleet.

Elliot leaps at the opportunity, eagerly renting the boathouse and inviting the admiral and his fleet. What she does not know—at the time—is that one of the heroes of that fleet, Captain Wentforth, is actually Kai.

Her closest childhood friend. A young man who grew up as a servant on her family’s estate. And fled, four years ago. After she refused his request to flee with him.

So good. Darkness Shows the Stars is a YA sci-fi retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion. The futuristic world is beautifully built—original with many thought-provoking ties to the present and the past. Elliot’s dilemma is well-developed: her relationships, the culture in which she lives, the social structure, and the love story. All well done. There is no need to have read Persuasion in order to understand or enjoy the novel, but Austen’s plotline helps lend the book a depth of character development that I adored. Cannot wait to read the next book!
Profile Image for Aleri .
205 reviews34 followers
July 11, 2016
Me ha gustado mucho este libro, el tema de romance histórico con distopía es lo más genial que he leído últimamente pero el problema radica en los personajes, la mitad del libro he odiado a Kai y por un momento sentí que no podía perdonarlo, es demasiado cruel y no pude con él, y Elliot se dejo manipular mucho, aún cuando tuvo actitudes que a mi me parecieron genial ella se arrepentía y eso fue lo que no me termino de convencer.
Habrá que ver que tal esta el segundo.
Profile Image for Gemma.
68 reviews15 followers
June 29, 2012
Actual Rating: 3.5 Stars

I am a huge Austen fangirl, and my all-time favourite story of hers happens to be - you guessed it - 'Persuasion'. So when I heard that Diana Peterfreund was working on a futuristic novel inspired by that very story, it was impossible for me not to read it at the first opportunity - this is the woman responsible for a series about killer unicorns, after all.
Although it might seem like I had a lot of misgivings about this book, I actually really enjoyed it. If the author's intention was to make me like it more than the original, then she failed, but I doubt that's the case. Peterfreund has clearly spent a lot of time studying 'Persuasion', trying to figure out how to remain true to its spirit while also putting a new, modern spin on it. For me, she (mostly) succeeded, above all in her portrayal of Elliot (but I'll gush more about her later), who manages to feel like a modern heroine while retaining the strength and innate goodness that made the original Miss Elliot my favourite Austen girl.

If I was reading this book without any prior knowledge of 'Persuasion', I'm fairly certain I would've loved it to death. Unfortunately, when someone writes something inspired by another book it's impossible not to compare the two. Despite there being much to love about 'For Darkness Shows the Stars', when I finished it I was left with a slight feeling of dissatisfaction in amongst the glow that's there when you know you've just read something great. I think this is mainly down to the romance, or lack thereof. I just wasn't feeling the passion between Kai and Elliot. This is probably because the majority of the time they spent together after Kai's return consists of him trying his damndest to insult and upset her, and subsequently their conversations are either filled with conflict, very polite or just not very long. For me this lack of chemistry was a real shame; as much as I love Austen the third person narration often means you don't really feel the extent of their emotions, so I was hoping the YA slant on it would bring out some of that hidden passion.

In 'Persuasion', Anne rejects Wentworth because she is easily persuaded and afraid to disobey the people she respects. He is a nobody and she is a baronet's daughter - of course they can't get married! The sting of rejection must have hurt like a bitch. So when he finally returns, extremely rich and successful, it's understandable that he wants to show Anne exactly what she missed out on (and it doesn't hurt that he is super hot, too...). At the same time, we can't help but feel sorry for Anne, who has spent nine long years regretting her decision and loyally loving Wentworth. It doesn't help matters that Austen is brutal in telling us readers how Anne's advanced age and loss of her 'bloom' have pretty much put paid to any hopes she now has of marriage, and as it's obvious she's a decent, caring person you feel sympathy for her in spite of her foolishness. Austen makes us realise that both characters have acted wrongly towards the other, and yet she creates a perfect blend of sympathy and understanding for them both. Genius!

However, in 'For Darkness Shows the Stars', the balance of emotions is not quite so perfect. Elliot gives up her chance at happiness with Kai in order to protect others dependent upon her for survival - she's not being weak-willed, she's being noble. As a result I was immediately unable to feel badly towards her - it was the 'right' thing to do, after all. This might've been the reason why I felt like it lacked something; in order for me to like and sympathise with Kai, it's necessary for me to feel that Elliot was wrong in leaving him. But she wasn't - in staying she spared everyone (including Kai's friends) on her estate from a lifetime of misery - and it's impossible to blame her for that. So when Kai seemed hellbent on humiliating Elliot and bitching about her to his friends, instead of, 'Yeah, you show her', all I could think was, 'What an asshole'. I knew something had went wrong when I ended up resenting Kai for abandoning Elliot to deal with all that crap alone, even though he was being treated as little more than a slave and just wanted a better life for himself. It is made up for at the end of the novel with that brilliant re-working of the letter - I'm swooning just thinking about it now - but the lack of sympathy I felt for Kai during 3/4s of the novel meant that even that was too little, too late for me.

Another source of my dissatisfaction was the sense that a lot of things seemed half-finished. The characters of Andromeda and Donovan never seemed fully fleshed out, and I didn't like the last impression we were given of Andromeda as a childish girl unwilling to let her brother be happy, particularly after what we found out she went through. We never learned what became of Benedict, and he never became a contender for Elliot's attentions, only popping up here and there until he's banished for being a rapist & never heard of again. The actual mechanics of how the Reduced came into being and how Felicia was changing the Posts was never explained fully enough for me. Also, Elliot's moral conflict was resolved too easily. After all the emphasis on how digusted she is at Felicia's activities and Kai's enhancements, her assertion that it doesn't matter to her since she loves Kai so much seemed a bit of a cop out. Elliot says the only way they'll ever be able to make sure the enhancements have no after-effects is to never have children - so what? She and Kai will never get married & have babies? This sense that Peterfreund never fully realised the world she created left me deflated when I finished the book - it felt more like the first in a series rather than a stand-alone. Despite that, it was lovely to read a stand-alone fantasy YA novel - my first in at least two years - as I've gotten so sick of everything in this genre being franchised.

Their age was another reason why I found it hard to judge Elliot - they were FOURTEEN, for Christ's sake! I appreciate the difficulty the author had - she was adapting it for a YA audience, but the plotline just didn't work as well with younger characters. Despite that I thought she chose the ages well. Like Elliot I'm an eighteen year old girl, and when thinking back to my fourteen year old self while in many ways I am now completely different, I can easily believe that someone that age could fall deeply in love.

In spite of appearances, I did not hate this book - there is much awesomeness to be found in 'For Darkness Shows the Stars'. The most awesome thing about it for me was Elliot. It was such a relief to read a story with a female protagonist who did not annoy the living shit out of me. She's a great character, and very true to the Austen mould; self-sacrificing & decent, but also tough as nails. Although it probably means I'll have to ditch my feminist membership card, I have a bit of a thing for heroines who give up everything for the sake of others - it's so satisfying when they get their happy ending. Peterfreund managed to replicate what Austen did best by giving Elliot all of these qualities without her once seeming like a Mary Sue. Everything she does is for the good of her friends & the people who work for her, and that responsibility clearly weighs on her and affects every decision she makes. She's not held up as a perfect model of womanhood - she's human and makes mistakes, but not once did I ever dislike her.
Weirdly I was under the impression that this story was going to be very space/sci-fi based, probably due to the cover/title and talk of 'ships'. It ended up being more post-apocalyptic with a mild sc-fi/historical feel, but overall it's difficult to pigeonhole it in any one genre - it succeeds in feeling like a modern YA while calling to mind the atmosphere of books like 'Jane Eyre'. I ended up being slightly confused for the first quarter or so of the novel, but in spite of that the writing was so skilled that I couldn't make myself put it down to try and clear my head. You could feel the love Diana Peterfreund has for Austen in every page, and this prompted me to grab my own copy of 'Persuasion' and re-read a few choice chapters (*cough* Chapter Eleven *cough*). In fact, reading this book has revived my love for Jane Austen, so much so that I've made a date for tomorrow with her various TV adaptations and my two friends, Ben & Jerry... :)

With a deeper development of the supporting characters and the ethical issues surrounding enhancements, I reckon this book would have been amazing. As it was, I still really liked it - how could I not with Peterfreund's brilliant writing and clear love for the original, like me? Perhaps my adoration for 'Persuasion' always meant that it would fall slightly short, but 'For Darkness Shows the Stars' was an obvious labour of love for the author, and one that I think has paid off.
Profile Image for Mizuki.
2,971 reviews1,179 followers
March 22, 2018
Note: For Darkness Shows the Stars is a post-apocalyptic novel based on, surprise, surprise; Jane Austen's Persuasion.

Therefore, I think you would enjoy this book more if you viewed it as a romance being set in a post-apocalyptic world instead of a full-on Sci-Fi.

And this novel also reminds me of a song: Wishing On the Same Star by Namie Amuro

Since it's everywhere and endless,
Let's return to the continuation of our dream together
Let's pray for the violent rain
That beats down on us to let up
We wait for lovely clear sky

We'll be wishing on the same star
Looking at the same moon
Beyond these fingers
Pointing to the sky
Are the two of us
Wanting to be tied as one
Wishing on the same star
Looking at the same moon

Hearts search for hearts, for warmth
We join hands and walk

We'll be wishing on the same star
Looking at the same moon
Beyond these fingers
Pointing to the sky
I like the two of us
Who long to be one
Sitting on the same star
Talking about a same dream

-Wishing On the Same Star

(link to the lyrics translation: http://shinitakashi.blogspot.hk/2002/...)

music video for the Namie Amuro version: http://www.iqiyi.com/w_19rsvgv52x.html

The original version by Keedy is also super awesome! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_jw1...

I am not going to lie, this story is more about character's developments and romance than about Sci-Fi, but even given the limited information we have about this post-apocalyptic world: a number of the population had been reduced to be simple-minded (called the 'Reduceds') due to some technical disaster (or DNA-manipulation went wrong) and these Reduceds being treated as slaves/farm workers and knowledge and technology had been largely banned for being 'harmful and dangerous' to the human race; still I can enjoy how the main characters cope with the situations they are in and how they act and react to those who are around them.

The romance is indeed slow-burning but the progress of how the main couple taking such a long way to overcome misunderstanding, betrayal, pain, separation, social barriers and difference in experiences and world view all make the romance engaging and worthy of emotional investment.

The ending...I do think it is a bit too 'easy' for the main character, but I will still looking forward for the companion novel that comes after this one.
Profile Image for AmyFlo.
156 reviews1 follower
November 13, 2015
The concept of this novel is so brilliant. I've long held the stance that modernizing Persuasion can't work. I've yet to read a modernization that gets it. So, Peterfreund doesn't modernize the story - she puts it in another setting completely. The social restrictions of the past do not exist in the present, so Peterfreund invents them in the future. Her believable depiction of what could happen to humanity is wonderfully complex. OK, so it may not be completely believable, but it worked.

I loved the set up so much, I wish I could give the book more stars. But the complex morality debate she sets up takes up too much of the narrative. First in its description and then in its dilemma for the heroine. And that could have been OK if it wasn't dropped at the end. Are the Posts immune to Reduction? Is it OK that they've resume the experiments? Is it morally right to do the experiments? We're never told. We're not even told to draw our own conclusion. It kind of just fades as the pages wind down. While I was relieved not to have some sort of moral Statement, I thought the story would have been tighter if some sort of resolution was made.

The relationship between Elliot and Kai was no Anne and Wentworth. Knowing each other since childhood, it never seemed to get past the teasing phase. Their relationship in the past was conveyed through letters, and they all seemed to be about the same thing: Kai hates the Luddites and wants to be free. Elliot is constantly defending the beliefs she's been raised to have (and are still valid). He's angry; she's apologetic and defensive. I didn't fee any love between the two aside from the very beginning when she kisses his hand.

The Kai of the present didn't do it for me either. When he grabbed her and challenged his former fellow-Posts, I was taken aback. Even though Kai didn't hurt Elliot, I was surprised that he treated her so roughly. And I think there was a lightbulb moment, after Elliot learned his secret and she was so angry with him. But it wasn't clear enough. One moment, he's so violently angry at her (again, not physically violent, just so pissed off) and the next, he's staring at her like he wants to take her in his arms and...

On the bright side, Elliot is a marvelously updated Anne. There was no persuasion in this story at all. There was no Lady Russell to dissuade Elliot from going off with Kai. Elliot's reasons for staying are so much more noble than Kai gives her credit for. How could he possibly realistically expect her at fourteen (FOURTEEN!?) to run off to God knows where when he has absolutely nothing to protect her? It makes his anger completely unfair and harsh. At least Captain Wentworth didn't offer total poverty at first. Elliot had people to take care of, especially the innocent Ro. And her father was truly such a monster. No foppish, indifferent Sir Walter in this version! But I liked that he was a tyrant. It made her decision to stay all the more realistic, and again, Kai all the more unreasonable for hating her for staying. And I know this is a young adult novel, but FOURTEEN!? How could any girl be asked to make such a decision at fourteen. Elliot, Kai, and Ro are eighteen at the end of the novel, and I still think that's way too young to be considered faded.

The homages to the narrative were uneven. Kai saving Elliot from the horse was a wonderfully emotional moment. But his flirtation with Olivia didn't seem to fit. Because unlike Austen, marriage isn't the focus of this novel. And Olivia being fourteen (again, the fourteen thing) lessoned any threat she had on Kai's affection. And that it held until nearly the end of the novel took away Kai's growth as a character to me. Olivia was supposed to be shown in contrast to Elliot's temperament. She's supposed to be brash and determined. But she's really a sweet girl who isn't encouraged to stick firm to her purpose. Kai really does intentionally use her to hurt Elliot, unlike Wentworth, who really didn't know what the hell he was doing. So, that aspect didn't quite work for me in this narrative.

I list all this stuff, and it sounds like I didn't like the book. And that's far from it. If I didn't like the book, I wouldn't have bothered writing such a review. I just wish that I could tell the author - this is a good first draft. Now try again.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Keertana.
1,126 reviews2,165 followers
June 18, 2012
Over the past few years, more than a few novels have taken inspiration from Jane Austen’s work. There have been various modern and futuristic re-tellings of Pride and Prejudice so I was more than a little curious to read the dystopian story inspired by Jane Austen’s Persuasion, a novel which I have come to love just as much, if not more, than Pride and Prejudice itself. However, to my greatest surprise and immense disappointment, the fact that For Darkness Shows the Stars is inspired by Persuasion, and takes much of its plot-line from it, was one of its greatest downfalls as a novel.

The premises of For Darkness Shows the Stars is fascinating and I was hooked by this intriguing dystopian setting from the moment I began reading. Elliot North lives in a futuristic world where a genetic mutation from generations past has failed, leaving much of the population Reduced. These Reduced individuals lack the intelligence that normal people, or the Luddites, possess and as such, have been used as slaves on farms and plantations. During the time of the genetic manifestation, all those who opposed this change went into hiding in caverns and emerged, now more sophisticated than their fellow brethren for not having succumbed to the power that this genetic change was meant to bring about. However, what these Luddites did not anticipate was the fact that the offspring of the Reduced, known as the Posts, would be normal individuals like them.

Needless to say, this interesting set-up and situation gives rise to a great many possible scenarios and potential for this novel to be astounding. I applaud Diana Peterfreund for her imagination and her skill in world-building as she cleverly uncovered the hidden secrets behind this dystopian realm and developed Elliot’s character through her perception of the world she lived in. Furthermore, I appreciated the complex relationships between Elliot and her family and friends and I came to admire Peterfreund’s slow growth of these many friendships. However, For Darkness Shows the Stars focuses primarily on the romance between Elliot North, a Luddite, and Kai, her best friend, former slave, and a Post. In fact, despite the fact that one of the main characters is himself a descendant from a long line of laborers, this issue is never brought forth and discussed as it should be.

One of the many aspects in this novel that happened to grate on me was the fact that slavery in this story was completely glossed over. Elliot claims that none of the brutality, harsh punishments, and danger that the Reduced and the Posts faced as slaves ever happened on her plantation, and as such, this issue was discarded and never brought up again. Although Elliot does her best to protect the slaves on her plantation and does her best to make amends to their lives, she still does nothing to release them from their bonds to her as an owner. As an American who has had the history of slavery and the Civil War pounded into her head year after year, I can say that even if torture was not occurring at Elliot’s plantation, injustice certainly was. I kept expecting Elliot, who herself has fallen in love with a Post, to do something by the end of the novel to aid these slaves and end the reign of slavery on her fields by giving them wages, but I was disappointed by the lack of action on this front. Slavery has been studied time and time again merely because of its utter significance and the fact that this topic was never given the amount of depth or consideration that it deserved to get in this novel bothered me.

Another one of the biggest faults I found with this novel was the fact that it was based upon Austen’s Persuasion. I could not help but compare For Darkness Shows the Stars to one of my favorite Jane Austen classics, and as such, this novel failed to even live up to the perfection of that love story. Austen’s Persuasion follows the story of sweet, kind, and gentle Ann Elliot, a girl who is wrought by guilt at having declined a marriage proposal from the man she loves. When Ann meets Captain Wentworth years later, it is, needless to say, one of the most awkward and embarrassing situations to have ever been touched upon in literature. Yet, Ann manages to deal with this situation with poise, despite falling apart on the inside. Throughout the novel we are constantly kept on the edge of our seats in suspense of whether or not Wentworth has truly moved on or whether he still loves Ann. This ultimate revelation is finally conveyed to the reader in the form of one of the most romantic and beautifully written love letters of all time.

However, For Darkness Shows the Stars tells the story of Elliot North who is forced to decline her lover’s offer to run away. At the time when Kai makes his proposition, Elliot’s mother has just passed away and she simply cannot leave her estate or her plantation. Furthermore, when Kai and Elliot meet four years later, he does not hesitate to make his anger towards Elliot known, casting her more in the role of the victim opposed to the guilty perpetrator. In addition, Kai’s true feelings are revealed to the reader long before his letter is read by Elliot, making it seem rather useless and lose the charm, beauty, and romantic quality that it held in Persuasion.

I would, by no means, discourage other readers from reading this novel, but I would not whole-heartedly recommend it either. I admire Diana Peterfreund for thinking up such a unique setting and I applaud her world-building efforts in the first half of this novel, but that is unfortunately where my praise of this story ends. Although I must admit that I enjoyed reading For Darkness Shows the Stars, I found this futuristic re-telling of one of my favorite Austen novels to be a disappointment. I definitely think I would have enjoyed this story more if it had not stuck so closely to the classic it was mirrored off of and if Peterfreund had managed to take her own unique spin on this famous tale. Although she did manage to add her own unique aspects to it in the form of the futuristic world she had created, the ultimate love story perfectly followed that of Jane Austen. Furthermore, I found that the ending was a little too rushed with all the loose threads wrapping themselves up too nicely in preparation for the end of the novel. Just as movies fail to live up to the books they are based off of, this novel failed to live up to the classic it was inspired by. Ultimately, it seems, nothing can possibly beat the original.

A Quick Note on the Cover: I am quickly coming to realize that false marketing is becoming a way of life in the publishing industry. Elliot North is described in the novel as having brown skin and black hair, yet, she clearly has pale white skin and brown hair on the cover! In an industry where covers are constantly being replaced by newer, shinier, prettier ones, I certainly hope that this cover, despite its beauty, also gets replaced - it simply has to go.

You can find this review on my blog, Ivy Book Bindings
Profile Image for Misty.
796 reviews1,230 followers
August 19, 2012
I am bound to judge any story that uses Persuasion pretty harshly. I can't help myself; I'm a huge Persuasion fan, and there haven't been enough adaptations of it to dull my senses to the inconsistencies yet. So it's a risk - as much as I look forward to stories that make use of it, there's a good chance that I just won't be able to let things go. I think I probably was harder on this that I would have been if it didn't use Persuasion and instead was just another dystopian YA. But it was inevitable that I would judge it harshly - though even then, I couldn't help but love it.

It was unputdownable. It had that indefinable something working for it, and the heart of it, the way it mirrored Persuasion but adapted to fit a wholly different environment, was really compelling to me. There were always parts of me saying, Anne wouldn't say what Elliot just said, Anne wouldn't do what Elliot just did - but then I'd catch myself thinking, but she would feel it...  And that was why it worked. No, Elliot is not a carbon copy of Anne. She has Anne's basic traits (she's loyal, she's smart, reliable, and compassionate, and everyone pushes her around), but she is also a product of her environment, and the two work together to create a character that strongly resembles Anne (is very Anne-like), but is also her own creation. I really have to applaud Peterfreund for being able to balance the two so well. The story is at once a clear retelling of Persuasion, and its own very different story entirely. It's not just a regurgitation of Persuasion in an exciting dystopic setting. It's its own creation, and though there are these changes in the core of who the characters are, I think for the most part, they're suited to the story Peterfreund created. It feels more "inspired by" than a straight retelling. I think you can really tell how much Peterfreund likes Persuasion and Austen, and respects her source material, and that's part of what really makes it work as a whole.

That isn't to say there weren't things that bothered me, or that didn't work from a retelling standpoint. Because this is written for YA, the timing doesn't have the same impact. In Persuasion, Anne and Wentworth fall in love and are separated when Anne is 19, and then meet again nearly a decade later. Moving up the timetable to suit a YA audience means that Elliot and Kai are separated at 14 and come together again at 18, and I have never been enough of a romantic that I would consider separated 14 year olds to be tragic lovers, and a reunion at 18 to be a triumphant return... It lessens it somehow; lessens the tragedy and the sadness of pining and being alone for almost 10 years, takes away the pain of feeling like the character will always be alone, like she's lost her only chance... It makes it all a little lighter, which is sad because there's really nothing that Peterfreund could do differently and still have it suit the audience. The way, too, that they are separated - with Elliot first of all in mourning, and second, legitimately making the right decision for everyone around her - means that it becomes a lot harder to like Kai. I did like him, don't get me wrong, but I think that was maybe only because I knew who he was supposed to be, and how he was going to turn out. Otherwise, I think I would have found him really callous and almost cruel, both in the manner and timing of their separation, and in his treatment of Elliot on his return.

Other things that niggled at me: It feels like the beginning to a series. I don't think it will be, but that's just because I know it is a retelling. If I picked this up just as a sci-fi read, I'd be sure it was going to be a trilogy. There's so much that feels like it could still be explored, and for all of the doom and gloom of the situation, and Elliot's internal debates over what's right and what the future should hold, things are far too easily wrapped up once she's (re)secured Kai's affections; in fact, the entire book ends too abruptly for me, with it feeling like Elliot is being rash, and a number of characters being ushered quickly off the stage... Also, I didn't like the letters that begin and punctuate the book. I got used to them, and I like what Elliot did with them, and the knothole, etc., but the letters themselves felt forced on the story to me, and they didn't work as a way to draw me into the story.

See? See how nitpicky this all turned out, when I really do want to push this book into everyone's hands? Ugh, okay: Despite my obsessive attention to this as a Persuasion retelling, and my too-harsh judgement as a result (because I have to, I can't not, it's one of my all-time faves), Peterfreund crafted a really compelling story that:
a) is one of the most unique Austen adaptations I've ever read. And I mean unique in a good way - P&P&Z was "unique" too, but my god, was it ever terrible. This is both unique and functioning as a story, compelling and interesting, very very different from other adaptations, but showcasing the same love of the original as the best adaptations do.
b) works both as a retelling and as a complete original, which I don't know I have ever said - or even thought - about any other adaptation.  It can be read by fans of YA, fans of Austen, and fans of both, and each group will get something different out of it while also enjoying it for what they came to it for, adaptation or YA sci-fi (And they won't feel like they're missing anything by not being familiar with Austen and/or YA).
c) presents a really interesting, engaging world with characters and conflicts that intrigued me.

So yes, as much as I notice all these little things, and feel compelled to say "But wait - but what about - but then - " I really did thoroughly enjoy this and think Peterfreund did a fantastic job of making it work so very far out of the box.
So get it. Read it. And enjoy it immensely with me even while we pick it apart...
Profile Image for Mitticus.
1,003 reviews208 followers
January 20, 2015
...or When the Amish Believers Inherit the Earth


El libro esta situado en un mundo post-apocaliptico que dejó repercursiones dividiendo la raza de la isla que constituye su mundo en 2: los Luddites y los Reducers.

As far as anyone knew, there was nothing left of the world but these two islands, these quarter of a million square kilometers, these people and these mountains and these animals and this society.

¿Por qué ocurrió esto? Bueno, según los Luddites, la humanidad jugaba a ser Dios... con desastrosas consecuencias. La manipulación genética en alimentos y personas provocó ¿una guerra? ¿mutantes?... pero lo que queda claro es que sí una enfermedad: The Reduction; creó una raza de personas con problemas para pensar y para hablar.

La gente sobrevivió dentro de unas cavernas, y cuando salieron los Luddites , los creyentes, que seguian siendo 'humanos' se hicieron cargo.

...the protocols had defined the Luddite way of life since the Reduction. It was simple: genetic enhancements had destroyed humanity. Advanced technology in the ensuing wars had nearly destroyed the world. The Luddites restricted both, and rebuilt.

La familia de Elliot desciende de estos antiguos

They were not even ordinary Luddites, the Norths, but one of the last great baronic families who had preserved the world in the wake of the Reduction. Their ancestors had led the remnants of humanity out of the caverns. They had held their land for generations.

De modo que en recompensa por ser fieles, ellos mandan a los Reducers, ellos los 'protegen', los 'cuidan', los comandan. ¿Les suena a algo? Mmmm.

La verdad es que si uno se fija en la historia de los cristianos enfrentados a otras culturas, esta es una repetición... incluso el hecho de plantearse si tienen un alma. Pero en este caso son 'infieles' ... oh, esperen.

Pero la evolución sigue, y en unas generaciones los Reducers pasan a ser Hijos de los Reducers... y son diestros, y hablan ... y siguen siendo básicamente los siervos de los Luddites.
¿Que porque digo que parecen Amish? Porque dicen seguir la voluntad de Dios, usan colores apagados, no usan tecnologia, andan en coches tirados por caballos, y cultivan la tierra ;P

Ahora bien, este libro es presentado como un retelling de Persuasión de Austen. Bueno ... como romance no le llega ni a los talones. De hecho, 'Kai' (¿y qué les pasa a los autores con ese nombre? Por favor, dejen luego la moda de ponerle el mismo nombre a todos los protagonistas YA) Ejem, Kai es horrible con Elliot (y por cierto, ¡qué nombre más tonto para ponerle a la jovencita de la historia! Me enredaba a cada rato con esos nombres)
Gran parte del problema con esto, a mi entender, es que Persuasión es una historia de segundas oportunidades entre gente madura, que ha vivido con sus decisiones por varios años, y cree que ya nada puede cambiar. Pero al convertir esto en YA, nos encontramos con mocosos de 13, 15 hasta 18 años. Por favor... ellos se separan por sus decisiones, pero ¿son la malas decisiones? No lo creo. Elliot se queda para salvar a la gente, por su deber no a su nombre, sino a quienes no quiere dejar indefensos. Y Kai, se va por sus razones, pero es todo por él. Nunca más piensa ni siquiera en quien llama 'su hermana', en Ro.

Y cuando Kai regresa no deja de tratar mal a Elliot, y trata con desdén a quienes por diversas razones se quedaron. Es un chico resentido (con razones o no), pero para alguien que dice amar a alguien a alguien , ciertamente a mi no me lo demuestra. parece que hubiera sólo regresado a vengarse.

Sin embargo, la razón de que le puse 3 estrellas no fue esta dizque seudo-romance, sino que precisamente el planteamiento moral acerca de la religión, la ética acerca de interferir en la Creación. O sea yo soy uno de los que se opone a los alimentos transgénicos, y la manipulación del DNA , asi que esto me llamó la atención. En muchas cosas (que no se relacionaban con ser amos de esclavos y tener casas de crianzas) me identificaba con las ideas esenciales de ellos.

Porque los libros que te hacen plantearte tus creencias son los mejores...

...aunque tengan un shitty romance.

I have been cruel to you. I have been unfair to you. But I have not been inconstant. I was so angry because I loved you so much.

Yeah, right.:snort:

Profile Image for Katrin D.
285 reviews456 followers
June 6, 2017
A Persuasion retelling and I have never even heard of it???

Wtf, Katrin, how could you miss that?
Profile Image for Meredith (Austenesque Reviews).
892 reviews312 followers
April 9, 2017
Post-Apocalyptic Jane Austen!

TYPE OF AUSTENESQUE NOVEL: Persuasion Retelling, Young Adult, Sci-fi, Dystopian

SETTING: A post-apocalyptic world, several generations after “The Reduction”


- Elliot North: Only member of the North family that does any actual work. Cares for all who are dependent on the estate for survival.
- Kai or Malakai Wentforth: Elliot’s childhood friend who ran away four years ago because he wanted more with his life than to be an indentured servant.
- The Luddites: Social class of people who are wealthy, privileged, and own estates. They are pure and believe technology and genetic modification is what caused The Reduction.
-The Reduced: Social class of people who are lowly and work as servants. They are considered fallen and helpless, and bear the sins of their ancestors.
- Posts: Social class of people who have the same capabilities of the Luddites but were born from Reduced lineage. Still considered tainted by the Reduction and work as upper servants.


Times are getting tough. The North estate is struggling to survive and with many servants leaving and crop yields diminishing, the outlook is bleak. For years Elliot has been working on a secret project that could revolutionize the harvest, but the estate is saved from poverty and ruin by the Cloud Fleet organization, a group of free Posts who are explorers that want to rent land from the North estate. The extra income is just what they need to survive, but it comes at a price…Elliot’s childhood friend, Kai has returned and he still bitterly resents her for not running away with him four years ago.


- An Inventive-Post Apocalyptic World: Wow, what an incredibly unique and compelling story! As someone who hasn’t read a lot of sci-fi or dystopian stories, I was not quite sure what to expect, and I was worried this might not be my cup of tea. But I am happy to say that I greatly enjoyed this post-apocalyptic story! I found myself very interested in this world with its tragic past and there are differing beliefs about technology and what is right and what is wrong. I liked that it wasn’t too confusing to understand the parameters and history of this new world. And I think the author did a wonderful job providing detailed descriptions and explanations.

- Creative and Clever Nods: I love how the author didn’t overtly take the plot and characters of Persuasion and transplant them all into her post-apocalyptic world. Instead her story has a lot of originality and is mostly of her own creation, just with slight nods and echoes to Jane Austen’s Persuasion. It was so refreshing to see all the subtle ways Ms. Peterfreund alluded to Jane Austen’s story and yet intertwined it with her own.

- Letters and Memories: The present-day action of this story was enhanced by the inclusion of Elliot’s and Kai’s childhood letters to each other. These letters appeared at the beginning of chapters periodically and were written when Kai and Elliot were six to fourteen years of age. I loved learning about their past together, and I thought this was a very clever way to illustrate what important events took place in their young lives.


- Morality and Blurred Lines: With times changing, many people are beginning to question the Protocols (the rules since the Reduction) – including Elliot. Elliot is at war over this issue, and sometimes seems to accept and welcome the advancing changes, but at other times is horrified and calls them an “abomination.” I don’t mind a character wavering or changing their mind, but this was such an important obstacle for our main character and I didn’t feel like she came to a clear resolution with it.

- Friends vs. Lovers: Since our characters were childhood friends who were separated at age fourteen and reunited at age eighteen, the relationship between them often felt that of very good friends. And for me, it sometimes became hard to think of them as romantically involved because we didn’t see a lot of romance between them, but maybe that was because of their young age…


This story was well-crafted and engaging and I’d certainly recommend it to readers who regularly read stories in the sci-fi/dystopian genre. But I’d also recommend it to readers who, like me, have read hundreds of Austenesque novels and are looking to branch out and try something new and different.
Profile Image for Rosamund Hodge.
Author 26 books4,758 followers
June 26, 2012
This is a really hard book to discuss. It's Persuasion retold as a post-apocalyptic YA, and--look, there's one huge problem with retellings/pastiches of Jane Austen novels: NOBODY IS JANE AUSTEN EXCEPT FOR JANE AUSTEN. It's like trying to write an extra Shakespeare play. You may produce something super-awesome, but on some level it will still be a failure.

So how does For Darkness Shows the Stars measure up against Persuasion? (Besides not being the product of a legendary genius.) Well, it doesn't have the original's exquisite portrait of what it's like to be an introvert. It doesn't have the poignant sense of regret and wasted opportunity. (It can't, because the heroine is 18 instead of 27, and those are fundamentally different ages.) And it doesn't have the same tight thematic focus as the original. (For instance, the Louisa subplot is still there, but it's not as closely tied into the central theme.)

On the other hand, it does have the same delicious cocktail of "the only man I ever loved now hates me"/"and I totally deserve it"/"except my actions were justified enough to qualify me as unjustly persecuted" ANGST as the original. This was, I admit, one of the reasons I loved Persuasion, and it made me inhale this book in one sitting. So in terms of delighting the reader, this book totally succeeded.

A few more quibbles (slightly spoilery but not very):

1) The apocalypse came about as the result of overenthusiastic genetic engineering, which basically left everyone genetically retarded (they're called "Reduced") except for the few Luddites who survived unchanged and made technophobia the cornerstone of their religion. Except now some of the Reduced are having normally-intelligent children (called "Posts"), some of whom are questioning whether or not the Luddites' technology restrictions are reasonable. I'm with them on that score, but they're also questioning whether genetic experiments on humans are such a bad idea. And if you're expecting a nuanced discussion of the ethics of genetic engineering, you'll be disappointed. Genetic engineering is A-OK, and it will be different now because . . . it's not very clear. Somebody suggests that the appearance of the Posts means their genes have overcome whatever caused the defects. This does not remotely satisfy me as a practical argument, much less as an ethical one . . . but then, I wasn't reading this book for the genetic engineering anyway.

2) The Luddites decided that they have a duty to take care of the Reduced, which basically boils down to keeping them as healthy, well-fed manual laborers on their farms. And keeping the Posts that way too. It's basically the most sympathetic reason for slavery ever, and . . . I really don't know what I think about that. As a fictional society, it's fascinating. As a system that the heroine is part of, it's very disturbing. The childhood letters between Elliot and Kai actually do a pretty good job of showing the injustice inherent in the system, and how Elliot's good intentions really aren't always enough (and her attempts at kindness are sometimes hurtful). But I wish that in the current-timeline sections, there were some Posts on the farm who chafed under Elliot's rule (however kind).

3) The final letter. I can't fault Peterfreund for wanting to include That Letter, because that's the most awesome part of Persuasion. Of course you want to include it. But (1) it borrows several phrases from the original letter, and while (again) this is understandable, I think this is really a mistake, because it just makes you compare it with the original and of course there is no comparison. And (2) -- SLIGHTLY BIGGER SPOILERS BUT NOT MAJOR --

So, definitely not a perfect book. But I still enjoyed it quite a lot, and I'm totally jealous that somebody else thought of doing it before I did. And now I need to go reread That Letter in the original Persuasion. SWOON.
Profile Image for Mayim de Vries.
577 reviews824 followers
October 23, 2017
I am jubilant to have found this little gem. Beautifully written retelling of Jane Austen's "Persuasion" being not only a love story but also a tale showing the dangers of the world torn between two extremities. Wise and light at the same time, and heartwarming. Obviously, a must.
Profile Image for Lea.
112 reviews501 followers
June 25, 2012
**NOTE: This actually got 2.5 stars on my blog

So... This is one book that was really difficult for me to review. On one hand, there were some things about it that I really didn't like, but then on the other hand the story was loosely based off of Jane Austen's book Persuasion, which I've never read, so I feel like it's almost unfair of me to rate this book low considering that I may have missed a lot of the point of this story and its characters since I don't know anything about the classic it's based off of...

So because I have to critique this book more as a stand-alone and not as a new take on a classic, this review probably won't be as good or accurate as someone who has read Persuasion. If you were thinking about reading this one, it would be a good idea to read some other reviews for it as well!

OK, here we go...

So to begin with, my biggest problem with this book was that I didn't like the characters much at all-- and I absolutely despised whatever the heck was going on between Elliot and Kai. I wouldn't even call it a romance-- it was more just a desperate attempt on Elliot's part to hold on to a guy who acted like she was totally worthless through three-quarters of the book.

And I really need to emphasize that I seriously dislike it when girls in books come across as being desperate-- wait, scratch that-- I absolutely hate it when girls come across as being desperate! And Elliot was one of the most desperate characters I've ever read about. I mean, she was a total insecure mess and let Kai control and manipulate her, because she just could not cope with the idea of being without him. It really got to be pathetic to be perfectly honest. Elliot was like that girl friend you have who's stuck in a horrible relationship with a crappy guy, and you try to tell her that she's worth better, but she just won't listen. Except it's even more frustrating because you're reading about this train wreck of a relationship and can't stop it!

I also thought that Elliot's thought processes could be totally unrealistic to the point of seeming ridiculous-- She was just so insecure! As one example, there is a part where Benedict tells Elliot that her mother had left his father for Baron North. Immediately, Elliot jumps to the conclusion that her mother was only out to get money from the Baron, and it was no wonder Kai had tried to bribe her, Elliot, with money to stay quiet because she came from a long line of women who would do anything to get rich. Umm... what?? How the heck did you surmise that?? Do you really have that little confidence in your mother and yourself? I just didn't get it. It was such a strange conclusion to jump to, and I was seriously baffled.

Then there were the letters back and forth between Elliot and Kai, which were also ridiculous. They went something like this:

Dear Kai,

Please don't ever leave me. I am totally head over heels in love with you and would die if you ever went away.

Your friend,



Dear Elliot,

You're a stinking Luddite with no brains. Bring me stuff and maybe I'll still hang out with you.

Your friend,



Dear Kai,

I hate you.

Not Your friend,



Dear Elliot,

Yeah well, I hated you first.

Not Your friend,


Yeah, no joke, that's basically in a nutshell how the letters came across to me. There was no affection, just misunderstanding and immature insults. For me the reader, it was impossible to feel the same loss as Elliot did when Kai left, because there was nothing between her and Kai to lose in the first place!

So let's talk about Kai-- where do I even begin? In this book, Kai is a total jerk who acts selfish, manipulative, and immature. Until the very end, there is never a moment where I got to see a sweet side to him, where I might've thought to myself, OK I get why Elliot likes him, even if he can be mean and rude, I can understand her attraction. No. He was a douche to her throughout almost the whole book-- even in all the letters-- there was nothing revealed about him to make him seem worthy of Elliot's love and attention. And from the moment he and Elliot are reunited, he's badmouthing her and her family. But this was the kicker-- he was staying on their property. Yeah! He's staying on Elliot's family's property and he thinks it's OK to badmouth her and her family and treat her like dirt! If I was Elliot? I would've been like, you know what dude? If you don't like me and my family, why don't you pack your bags and get the heck off our land. OR, if that would have threatened the Fleet staying there and paying rent, I would have gone to the admiral of the Fleet and let him know to put Kai in line because getting insulted on a continual basis wasn't part of the deal. Why did Elliot just stay quiet and take his abuse? And why on earth did Elliot feel so guilty for making the clear responsible choice of staying behind on the estate and taking care of business instead of running off with Kai four years ago?

So in case you're a bit confused, the whole "thing" between Elliot and Kai went something like this:

Elliot was born a Luddite and Kai was born a child of "The Reduced," which are the lower class who serve the Luddites. Elliot and Kai grew up as "friends" (even though in their letters I never saw anything revealed of friendship, it was just Kai being resentful and trying to take advantage of Elliot) and then four years ago, Kai asked Elliot to leave her home, family and the estate she's ultimately responsible for to be with him. Elliot made the tough decision to stay behind because she had to take care of the farm and the people who depended on and worked for her family. So Kai left anyways, and then comes back one day as a member of a Sea Fleet which is renting land from Elliot's grandfather to build a new ship. And the rest of the story is about Kai trying to make Elliot feel sorry for not leaving everything for him and bringing her down for trying to be responsible... Well hey Kai, guess what? Not everyone is as selfish and immature as you-- some people actually understand that there are obligations and responsibilities in life and people that depend on them and things they're accountable for and they can't just up and leave because they're in love with you. And if you weren't such a selfish ass throughout the entire flipping book, maybe you would have realized that Elliot not leaving was because she was objective and wise when you were being a delusional idiot. The world doesn't freaking revolve around you buddy, sorry! Seriously, grow up already because you act like a spoiled little brat throughout the entire stinking story. You wanting Elliot to leave with you in the first place was not romantic-- it was foolish, selfish, and irresponsible.

[Whoa. Glad I got that off my shoulders!]

And really, I didn't understand why Eliot was constantly lamenting the fact that Kai was no longer "her Kai," how he was no longer the "old Kai," and how now he was this horrible person. Because in reality, he was just as much of an ass even way back when-- in all his letters to Elliot, he just came across as being totally selfish and immature and didn't care about Elliot unless she was completely under his control. It was one unhealthy and twisted relationship, and you'd think that after 4 YEARS of mulling it over, Elliot would have had time to figure this out. She acts like she's lost this amazing person who used to love her, when actually, Kai treated her like crap even before he left the estate. And lo and behold, he still acts like a child having a temper-tantrum now that he's 18.

I also didn't understand Elliot and her sister Tatiana's hate for one another. To me, there was no motivation behind it and was just added in as another point of conflict to the plot. Why couldn't they stand each other again? I mean it would have been one thing if Elliot and Tatiana just annoyed each other but in the end really loved one another, but they were completely estranged, with absolutely no sisterly bond or affection. It just didn't seem natural to me. I have a sister and we don't always get along or see eye to eye, but I don't see how you could dislike your sister as much as Tatiana and Elliot did.

OK, so what did I like about this book, you're probably wondering... Well, I did like the world building, and I thought it was really interesting to take a Post-Apocalyptic society and put them in a classic storyline. It almost came across as Steampunk because the characters acted Victorian in their manners and speech, but then there were futuristic elements as well. So that aspect of the book was very interesting and creative.

Also, the ending of this book did save it for me *somewhat.* Kai redeems himself for the most part, even though any explanation for why he was a jerk did not justify his attitude and behavior in my opinion, and if there was any explanation for why he all of a sudden pulled a 180 and became this awesome kind and caring guy, well-- I missed it. Basically, the strings were all tied together but it seemed a bit too convenient for me. But at the very least, Kai did change by the end and Elliot didn't end up with the jerk he started out as.

So all in all, I wasn't a big fan of this book, but I feel like my opinion isn't the best one to be taking because like I said, I'm totally clueless about the book it is based off of. Maybe if I read Persuasion by Jane Austen I would have a better understanding for the motivations behind the characters and why they acted the way they did, but on the other hand I think that a book should be able to stand alone and be likable whether I read the classic it was based off of or not. I guess it just wasn't for me, unfortunately!

~Lea @ LC's Adventures in Libraryland
Profile Image for Krys.
736 reviews170 followers
August 25, 2015

Before I get into the meat of this review I would like to take a moment to thank Diana Peterfreund for writing this incredible book. Thanks Diana, for retelling a story that I love while I don't actually enjoy reading Jane Austen novels. Thanks for adapting it in such a way that made this non-Austen-ite cry at the end and for several moments afterwards. Thank you for revamping it in such a way that made me care with my entire heart and soul what happened to these characters. Thank you for taking an old, familiar tale and making it new.

Thank you

For Darkness Shows the Stars is a book I have been looking forward to for some time. When I saw that it was going to be a post-apocalyptic retelling of Jane Austen's Persuasion I jumped up and down with delight. I love Persuasion but, like I said, I don't love reading it. I am not a fan of reading Jane Austen's prose. It's picky, picky, picky... and I've tried reading 4 of her 6 books to no success... I'm more of a Bronte girl. I have, however, seen numerous film adaptations of all of her books. This one is probably my favourite of the 6 she wrote. I have a friend at work who agrees with me in one crucial Austen film fandom moment - The BBC film version of Persuasion from 1995, with Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds, is stunning... so much so that it's better than the infamous BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice (with Colin Firth). We tell this to customers just to watch their jaws drop... and boy do they drop.

So, naturally at one point I got an early copy... and I jumped up and down... but my anticipation came at a cost. Could this book really be as good as I wanted it to be? As good as I knew it could be? I adore Peterfreund's Killer Unicorns series, so I already knew she was a good writer (write another unicorn book, please!) but it's the matter of changing that story into this one... Can Persuasion really be turned into a YA book that will hold an audience?

It can, and it has. I've read a dozen retelling books so far this year. This and Masque of the Red Death are the successful ones. This one, in fact, is a perfect book.

The story centers on a failing estate in a patch of islands. Elliot North has been running the estate despite her father's neglectful interference. His whims threaten to ruin the estate and Elliot is constantly at her wits end in order to work around his decisions. When an opportunity presents itself that may save the farms Elliot snatches it, renting out part of the property to a group of shipbuilders called the Cloud Fleet. The Cloud Fleet are comprised of Posts, free people who challenge the North's Luddite principles. The Luddites arose in power after the Reduction, a genetic experiment that failed and wiped out much of the human population. The Luddites founding beliefs are to shun technology and to do things in the older, less efficient ways. The Posts have embraced something completely different.

With the Posts come a young man from Elliot's past, Captain Malakai Wentforth, a mechanic in Cloud Fleet. Malakai used to be a young boy named Kai from the North estate, and Elliot has been in love with him for years. Four years ago he fled the estate and tried to convince Elliot to come with him. Four years ago she declined. Is four years enough time to let go of your first love, even a love that flies in the face of everything you believe?

This book is stunning. Peterfreund seamlessly weaves the old story of Persuasion with the new. If the reader doesn't know the story they will not be lost at anytime in the narrative. The things that she has added to flesh this out, to make it a YA post-apocalyptic story, are simply wonderful - genetic experiments gone wrong, technology vs. simplicity, old vs. new, faith vs. fact... I could go on and on. Just trust me when I say that you need to read this... That it is as wonderful as I say it is. Just please, for the love of YA, please let it be a standalone book. It's perfect as it is... please don't stretch it out. That would really do a disservice to the core story of Persuasion.

5 out of 5 stars.

- review courtesy of www.bibliopunkkreads.com
Profile Image for Susana.
988 reviews243 followers
September 28, 2012
Entrancing, engrossing, amazing, beautiful, unforgettable....sigh

Normally at the beginning of a review, the first thing i mention is what the book has made me feel...or what i felt about the characters. In this one i will start by the thing that i normally leave to the end: the writing.... it was so, SO BEAUTIFUL...the characters and feelings were perfectly portrayed. There was no exaggeration of style, only raw feelings...one could feel how much they were hurting, one could feel the longing, and the sadness, and the hope....

A beautiful romance, about two people that had to make choices, and consequently had to go on with their lives in the absence of one another. Because sometimes love isn't enough.

From all the classics that i've read, Jane Austen's Persuasion" is one of my all time favorites. In fact with time,i've come to appreciate it even more so than "Pride and Prejudice". The story of a love that time itself isn't able to make fade away, the story of a couple who's hearts won't let them forget one another, isn't easilly forgotten...luckily for me, the same happened with this story.

But this one, isn't only a "Persuasion" re-telling. In fact it is so much more than that...
In this dystopia, that takes places in a distant future _ i'm guessing here _ technology is seen as the ultimate sin. In fact throughout the book we can see the struggle between the conservative ways, uphold by the "Luddites" and the progressive ones defended by the "Posts", or "COR- children of reduction".

You see, a long time ago, genetic wanted to take Gods place. But something went wrong, and the keepers of that knowledge preferred to destroy it alongside with their minds, instead of sharing it with others. That's when the event called "The reduction" took place. And that's when the "reduced" appeared. Now we have a social classe that barely speaks and for which "the Luddites" _ known as salvators of humankind, since they never adhered to the profane ways of genetic _ will be responsable for.

But what if that situation is reversible? What if "the reduced" are slowly recovering? Not in years, but in generations? Will the "luddites" allow them their freedom, or will they keep them as a little more than slaves?

Progress can lead to disaster, but it can also lead to salvation. In the end, it doesn't matter how many turns it makes, how many dead ends and disasters it causes, because progress, like a phoenix will always rise from its ashes.
It can never stay dead and buried.

Elliot, was outstanding in her strength and convictions. And so was Kai, a character bigger than life...

To finish, i will just say that i loved reading the letters that these two exchanged in the past. Great idea. That allowed us glimpses of their lifes, without being too much....

Truly a great story.
Profile Image for Kaethe.
6,395 reviews462 followers
July 17, 2014
Dystopian Persuasion

This isn't a perfect book, but it's a damn good one. As a retelling of Austen's book I think it is wildly successful and enjoyable.There is a very strict caste system on the plantations, and politically the society is rigid, punitive, and hypocritical. In a general sort of way (I know nothing of farming) the author has the rigors of running a large estate clear in the story, and it reminds me of Scarlett running Tara at the end of the Civil War in a good way: she is capable, doing what needs to be done, being able to see at least a little farther ahead than everyone else and surrounded by family who are worthless and other estate owners and workers who are not. The relationship between Elliot and her estate manager is a warm friendship which contrasts with how little regard there is between Elliot and her older sister. And I quite liked the nibbling-at-the-edges struggle to improve their society that many are engaged in, but always covertly. That's all great. I like the characters of the Fleet as well as the other estate holders.

So I also have a few issues which kept the book from being absolutely fabulous. While I love that the estate-holders are the indigenous people (of what I think is New Zealand, although it's never explicit) I really hate that the publisher screwed the author over with that dustjacket whitewash.Generally I'm sick of white models in ball gowns, but since we are told that Elliot is small and dark with difficult hair, it's particularly offensive.

I'd have liked to see a stronger since of place and culture and even racism. There's a farm with wheat and a dairy and it feels generic. There's mention of stringed instruments and a song lyric or two, but not enough to give the reader a sense of specifics. And in a rigid caste system there has to be stereotyping and prejudice and active repression and it can't be coming from just one man.

Now, here's what I couldn't stomach: there are slaves. Their enslavement is justified on the grounds of a plague that left them too mentally disabled to care for themselves, but inexplicably still able to care for their own offspring and still work at jobs without actively rebelling. It is my hope that this is actually a set-up for a greater revolution to come in a future volume.

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