Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Review: For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund
Balzar + Bray, 402 pages
US Release Date: June 12, 2012
Challenges: Local Library Challenge

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.
---------------------------Goodreads summary
Notable Quote
Elliot dragged her eyes up to the woman's face, half terrified Felicia would see the tears clinging to her lashes.
"You should know that you're exactly the person you think you are."
Elliot turned away as the tears escaped. That's what she was afraid of.

So first off, MAJOR COVER LOVE. I can't even tell you how gorgeous it is in real life - and I have a bookmark (thanks Natasha!) that uses a foil that gleams for the title...oh man. I can't...I just can't. Stunning.


I can actually move all that praise for the cover to the book itself: you guys, I am IN. LOVE. with this book. So in love. I would marry it, if I could. I haven’t read Persuasion, but reading this book is completely like reading an Austen novel. It’s filled with that heartwrenching suspense and careful, doomed hope. That feeling that you’re on the brink of every emotion ever, and it’s all cresting to the surface and you just don’t know what to do with it all.

I’m hesitant to call this a Dystopian novel, even though I know it is in it’s technical sense. But the world itself is so…background. The description, all the events that happened that created this Reduction they speak of, it’s all so smooth and flawless that it just seems as though it is. I believed in it wholeheartedly almost from the very beginning. It’s also one of those scenarios where it feels like it could be real – I don’t actually think it will, but I get it. I understand how humanity could try to “play God” and mess with the way things are supposed to be to the point where it wipes out people. It’s sensible and real, in the most fictional way.

Something that’s a bit weird is that I didn’t really focus much on the characters – which, if you’ve read my blog for awhile, you know character are pretty much EVERYTHING to me. I can love a book, but if a character rubs me the wrong way, it’s pretty much doomed from that point. So it says something, in my opinion, that I was so swept up in the story I didn’t even focus on characters.

That’s not to say they’re bad, of course. They’re not. They’re wonderful. Elliott has such a gentle strength to her, I was immediately drawn into her story of loss and compassion. Her family is a piece of shit, but her friends are such fantastic people for her that I immediately restructured them into her family. Benedict was awesome (as is his name), because you really are unsure who he is throughout the entire thing. He’s immediately scummy, but there’s still something captivating about him, and I was wondering the entire time I was reading.

And Kai. Oh, Kai. Who I loved in letters, and was so furious with in scenes. Who strung me along, who played with my heart and toyed with my emotions, who I wanted to grab and shake and make out with at the same time (though that’s probably a bit uncomfortable…). He is such an Austen-like man, whose glances can make you come undone and one eyebrow raise will make your heart pitter patter. It’s incredible that it can be done through the pages of a book, but oh…can it ever. If I could, I would probably spend miles of blog pages talking about Kai, because I want to say so much about him and his attitude and his transformation into Captain Malakai Wentworth (HOT name, amirite?!)…but I shall not. Just know that I want him, in the way that almost any woman wants Mr. Darcy.

So, important things: the story. It’s not the most exciting story, nor is it action packed or one to make you flip pages lightning fast trying to find out what’s going to happen by the end of the chapter. But there’s something fantastically riveting about this book, one where you get wrapped up in all the details and little nuances of scenes. It moves at the perfect pace, slowly revealing itself until you look up and only then realize how entranced you are in what’s going on.

There’s a little something for everyone in here: romance, family, friendship, a little science fiction and fantasy. For Darkness Shows the Stars is one of those books that I loved so much that I stopped reading it for a day because I couldn’t stand the thought of it being over. Because I wanted to stretch out my time with Elliott and Kai, I wanted to make more paper gliders and listen to Donovan sing his mournful songs. The world is fascinating, seeing all the rules put in place after the Reduction and  figuring out what Elliott – and Kai and the rest of the Posts – are up to and the ramifications of each. Normally I don’t like series novels, but I absolutely wish this one was a part of one because I want to find out more of the story!

I have to mention the structure of the story as well, how we get to read the letters passed between Kai and Elliott from their childhood growing up to the point of their broken friendship/relationship. It’s smart, because we get the explanations of the world from a child’s point of view, which is arguably one of the most pure, curious views; because that makes it feel just a little more like an Austen novel to me; because it’s the perfect way to introduce us to different events and stories from the past as we read. It’s also fun, because we get to see them grow together and flirt in such adorable ways only 6 year olds, then 8 year olds, then 12 year olds, then teenagers can through letters. And it’s brilliantly beautiful, because you feel like you really know the pair and you’re that much more attached to them. It’s perfect.

For Darkness Shows the Stars is a book I was excited to read going in, and ended loving even more than I ever imagined in so many ways I never thought possible. It’s such a quiet, unassuming book, but the payoff…it’s fantastic, and I gladly place this on my favourites shelf.

And because I think I’m pretty hilarious, I thought I’d write the timeline of my reading. I post-it note during reading just to mark passages I love or thoughts, and I definitely had more in this one than usual. I share with you the pages and my thoughts, because this was seriously the roller coaster of my reading experience:

A Timeline Review
Page 56: This already breaks my heart.
Page 79: Ouch.
Page 86: So much anger still…and yet we all know how closely tied love and hate are.
Page 143: I truly want to cry.
Page 146: So reminiscent of Austen, absolutely amazing & wonderful.
Page 177: How can I love Kai so quickly after being so angry at him?
Page 190: Heartbreaking. I know this feeling.
Page 192: This paragraph is beautiful writing.
Page 232: My heart can barely bear this scene.
Page 248: What is Benedict up to? He seems fine, but I’m still suspicious. Something fishy.
Page 267: I would hate it if someone said this to me.
Page 329: This entire thing is a perfect example of things both wrong and right. Two truths, two lies.
Page 329: I am in love with this line.
Page 385: No. This can’t be.

5 Stars
(And even in darkness, I'd give it a billion more.)


  1. When I got the book, I was thinking about the bookmark. So shiny! I finally read this book and it is one of my favorites for this year. Makes me yearn for another unicorn killers book from the author, too. And to read some Jane Austen. Definitely a book I'm going to share with friends.

  2. I'm so excited to finally read this book, I love Jane Austen (though I haven't read Persuasion either). And the fact that her male characters are very like Austen's makes me so excited. Love your timeline review as well :)

  3. Your timeline is pure brilliance! I really want to read this one, even though I haven't read Persuasion (or anything by Austen, but sssh!). I just see people raving about this one all the time, so I know I'll be missing out on something great if I don't read it. Awesome review!

  4. I have GOT to read this book. I haven't read persuasion either, in fact I've only read one Jane Austen book, but I totally appreciate the part about the Austen-ish guys (raised eyebrows and other smirky expressions) because those are some of my favorite things too. I love that this is a retelling on a piece of classic lit and I love that it blends dystopian with sci-fi (one of my fave genres.)

    And I love your timeline, I hope you do more of those in your reviews, they are fun!

    AND I like the new look on your blog, Ashley. Simple and clean. Very nice:)

  5. You have made me a TRILLION times more excited to read this book! I borrowed it from the library, but have been intimidated by the size of it and how the story seems to be slow-paced. I will definitely have to read this soon!

  6. You make me want to read this so bad!!! And I haven't had time to read any of the books I've purchased in the last three months... but... I loved your timeline recap. LOVED that.

  7. Oh gosh, I loved this book soo much, I really need to look into her other stuff, if it's anything like this one. Great review- I completely agree :)


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