Wednesday, July 25, 2012
For Darkness Shows the Stars
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.
My Rating: *****
Me, several months ago when I first heard about his book:
"Post-apocalyptic retelling of Persuasion? SHUT UP."
"I need it. RIGHT NOW."
So, needless to say, I've been excited to read this. The closer it got to release the more rave reviews I read. So when I got it for my birthday last week (yes, I buy myself a stack of books for my birthday and then give them to my husband to wrap - that's just the way we roll :D) I was terrified to read it. What if I hated it? I bought it before reading it (which I almost never do), what if it wasn't any good?
I considered reading one of my other birthday books first but I didn't. I started with For Darkness Shows the Stars. And absolutely adored it.
First off, the sci-fi elements are amazingly well done. The future society in this book is shocking and scary and contains something that looks alarmingly a bit too much like slavery. There is a lot of segregation and racial prejudice going on, only the race differences are between the Reduced (genetically affected humans with almost no intelligence) and the Luddites who shunned genetic manipulation and so escaped the fate of the Reduced. But what to do with the Post-Reduced? The children of the Reduced with normal intelligence?
That story alone was interesting and compelling enough to get five stars. And then we add in Persuasion, my all time favorite Jane Austen novel (Pride and Prejudice is a close second but it's still second).
Kai was so awful to Elliot at first. I almost hated him because he was such a jerk. Forget Captain Wentworth who mostly ignores Anne and flirts with the Musgrove girls. Kai returns with a mission to make sure Elliot knows how much she hurt him and to hurt her in return. It was almost too much, but right along with that story the book contains tons and tons of notes passed between Kai and Elliot when they were kids. The notes are so sweet and their childhood friendship is so lovely and entertaining that it really made me understand the relationship between Kai and Elliot, and why Kai was so hurt. And all those notes really set the stage for what we all know is the most important part of any Persuasion retelling: the letter. I totally cried. It was beautiful.
Oh it was all so good. This isn't just about the romance, which happens at exactly the right pace. No, the story is about Elliot's family, and politics, and the ethics of genetic experimentation, and following your heart and vulnerability, and so many other good things. I don't think I can gush enough.
I'm not saying everyone will love this. It definitely has its harsh moments and there is a dusting of scifi-ness. But, I thought it was a gorgeous story and an incredibly well done retelling in a future setting of one of my favorite novels of all time.
And a stand-alone! Who doesn't want to read a nice stand-alone novel these days?