For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund
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.
Review: I feel like I have to do this in two parts: Not Compared to Persuasion, and Compared to Persuasion.
Part I: Not Compared to Persuasion
So wow. I have to say, I'm a fan of her post-apocalyptic premise. The class system that is created is... interesting. And the concept of the protocols is a logical one, given the history of their world. Of course, I feel like the history as told by the survivors of this story has to be filtered through a big fat reminder that the kind of people who eschewed technology and hid in caves for several generations are probably rather like the crazy uncles of the world who have bomb shelters on their property out in the sticks and are ready for the zombie apocalypse any day now. Survivalist types, ya know? They exist on the fringes of society now, so it can't be a big surprise that even though they start the new society in the future, their way of thinking becomes a little extreme then, too.
I found the resolution a little convenient. Big moral dilemmas that occupy Elliot's mind for most of the book are suddenly swept under the rug because Kai bats his eyelashes at her? Seriously? Oh, the guy who turns out to be a huge villain (surprising no one) all of a sudden gets retribution? Although now that I think about it, that one came about because of deus ex machina, so I'm actually gonna overlook it, because how often do I get the chance to talk about deus ex machina?
I do like the letters they exchange. It's a cute method of establishing their earlier relationship, as well as slipping in some (SUPER useful) exposition for the readers.
Part II: Compared to Persuasion
Full disclosure: Persuasion is my favorite Jane Austen novel. I have a tumblr called Then He Looked at Me Twice, and there is literally a plot point in Persuasion that centers on the fact that a guy looks at Anne twice. I am not kidding. So yeah, I'm kind of in love with it.
So that being said, let's compare. Let's start with Elliot. One of the things I love about Anne is that she plays it cool. Like, super cool. Pretty much the entire book, she's in constant agony whenever she so much as thinks about Wentworth, but nobody can tell that they even knew each other before. She's that composed. Elliot, on the other hand, is more of a typical teenager: doesn't mind yelling and glaring at Kai a little. While I like that she's got the "in over her head" thing going on a little, I do wish she were a little more reserved, like Anne. Plus, Elliot kind of whines about how alone she is and how she has to do everything by herself, despite the fact that TONS of the Posts who work for her are fiercely loyal to her and constantly go to the mat for her. Anne actually IS alone, because the class distinctions of Austen's novel are much more rigidly adhered to than this one, AND she doesn't whine about it all the time.
And Kai. So in Persuasion, Wentworth doesn't really actively hate Anne. I mean, he does, but he's in denial about it. So his tactic, instead of being super mean to her, is just to ignore her out of existence. He talks to her as little as possible, looks at her as little as possible, and pretty much just pretends she's not there, all the while watching her out of the corner of his eye to make sure she's noticing how COMPLETELY OVER IT he is. And when he does talk to her, he's SUPER polite, hiding his true feelings behind formality. Kai, on the other hand, is a big fat jerk. He's willing to have one-on-one conversations with Elliot, pretty much for the sake of making her feel like crap. He puts her down in front of other people, and he actively encourages other people to dislike her. It makes his reversal later less believable, even accepting the premise that hate is sometimes an expression of love (an unhealthy one, but still). It also makes me respect Elliot less, when she's willing to forgive everything pretty much at the drop of a hat.
Also, Anne knows Wentworth isn't in love with the Louisa Musgrove. She knows what's going on there. I mean, she thinks he's gonna marry her, but she totally knows he's not in love with her. She also realizes that Wentworth being so flirty towards the Musgroves partly for her benefit, to highlight how cold and distant he is towards her. Elliot, on the other hand, believes that Kai IS in love with Olivia. She doesn't know how Kai really feels until the end of the book, whereas Anne has a pretty good handle on Wentworth throughout (except for his still being in love with her early on, but he was fooling everyone at that time, including himself).
So in conclusion, I'm sorry but it looks like the biggest effect this book had on me was to make me want to read Persuasion again.
Goodreads Shelves: addictive, bechdel-test, fluffy, is-or-would-be-a-good-movie, is-this-a-kissing-book, my-kind-of-woman, nook-ya