Michelle's Reviews > For Darkness Shows the Stars

For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund
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Jul 20, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: 2012, dystopian, retelling, sci-fi, ya

As a Luddite, it has been ingrained in Elliot North since birth that her job is to watch over the laborers on her family's estate, the docile yet mentally 'incompetent' Reduced. Knowing full well she was the only North capable enough left to run the farm after the death of her sensible mother, Elliot nevertheless was ready to leave it all behind four years ago. Ready to leave with her best friend Kai, a Post-Reductionist (or a descendant of a Reduced who is normal) who was raised on the North estate. Yet responsible, practical Elliot changed her mind at the last moment as she forced herself to think of all those who depended on her for support and care, knowing her feckless father and prissy sister would never be able to keep things going on their own. A decision which left her heartbroken and alone, watching Kai leave for parts unknown with nary a word for over four years.

Imagine Elliot's surprise when Kai appears right in her backyard with a group progressive Post-Reductionists who want to rent her grandfather's boat building warehouse in order to build a new type of ship for exploration. No longer the childhood friend she remembers, Captain Malakai Wentforth (don't you love his new name?) is now cold and aloof and not at all pleased to be near Elliot. Which of course puts Elliot in a bit of a spot because how do you begin to tell your heart to stop loving someone just because they don't seem to want you anymore?

Diana Peterfreund you are a genius. Seriously. In a wash of classic retellings, you have managed to take my ALL TIME FAVORITE Jane Austen story, Persuasion, and remake it into a heart wrenching Sci-Fi adventure without the aid of a single vampire or zombie. Who does that?! In all seriousness though, I loved every stinkin' detail about this book. She reeled me in with those first few pages of letters between Elliot and Kai as children and then proceeded to sink her hooks into my heart as I watched Elliot try her best, fail and yet still managing to keep going -- even in the face of extreme suffering and betrayal. That is my kind of character, someone who I was rooting for and sympathizing with from the moment I saw that lovely cover.

Part of what makes For Darkness Shows the Stars such a special retelling is that I loved much how Ms. Peterfreund made this well-known story into her own. Yes, there are similarities between the two (enormously large ones in places) but readers can easily fall into the story and enjoy it solely on the basis of character conflict and story-building alone without having to have read Persuasion.

I love reading authors' acknowledgments sections -- due to all the hidden gems contained therein -- and Ms. Peterfreund's proved exceptionally satisfying as she included Ms. Austen herself in her thanks saying: "Thank you for giving me the bones of this story, and forgive me the changes I've made to its DNA." Honestly, I can't think of a better way to describe this story. And really, I don't think she would have minded one bit.
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Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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Emily Ellsworth I fell so hard for this book too!!


Michelle Yep. Wonderful stuff.


Wendy Sounds intriguing! Did I tell you that Persuasion is my favorite Austen novel, too? I really like Peterfreund's dedication that you quoted in your review.


Natalie I just finished this today and I'm glad to see I'm not too far behind you in reading this gem. Kai's letter to Elliot at the end had me in sobbing tears. Sigh. Awesomeness.


Michelle Natalie - Yay! Glad to hear you found it to be a winner as well. That ending just wrapped up things perfectly for me too. Sigh indeed.


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