"Across a Star-Swept Sea" is an incredible sequel that introduces a new world and cast of characters, making it also possible to work as a stand alone. Although common in the world that resulted in Reduced (individuals who are mentally disabled due to genetic engineering), New Pacifica is different than what we've viewed before in this series. Here, technology has continued to advance and when gene experiments and uses have grown. As such, the Reduced have been cured- although some, for an unknown reason, develop a severe dementia later in life. New Pacifica is divided into two kingdoms, one which is mostly stable and thriving-Albion- and the other which has undergone revolution- Galatea.
In Galatea, the revolutionaries have begun punishing all aristos and their families- and soon anyone who displeases them- with an artificial reduction caused by medication. In response, the Wild Poppy has arisen. Persis, a teenaged girl, has adopted this persona to rescue the individuals artificially reduced and attempt to bring some justice into the world. She hides her identity by pretending to be a vapid aristo. On one of her missions, she suffers from the "genetemps" sickness and is luckily found by a young medic, Justen, who quickly barters his way into the ship and with them without learning who Persis really is (the Poppy). Justen is the descendent of the woman who found the cure for reduction, and he doesn't agree with the way Galatea has been progressing. To avert suspicion of his deflection, the princess Isla proposes that Persis and Justen fake a romance to keep him safely with them.
The book is absolutely fascinating and hard to stop reading. The world which has been built here is unlike any I have ever read about- the descriptions are incredible and it's really amazing to imagine. Persis is a strong character and I loved getting her perspective and learning more about her and her family. Justen was a harder character for me to like- he had his head stuck in the sand and was stubborn and obstinate. The tension of their budding relationship with the lack of their knowledge about who the other is and their roles got to be a bit overplayed, but I understand why. I remember thinking so many times, just tell him/her already!! But in the end, I was pretty happy with the way it all worked out. I could definitely see their relationship grow.
I really loved this book and think it is even better than the first! I can't wait to continue with this series!