Generations ago, a genetic experiment gone wrong—the Reduction—decimated humanity, giving rise to a Luddite nobility who outlawed most technology. Eighteen-year-old Luddite Elliot North has always known her place in this caste system. Four years ago Elliot refused to run away with her childhood sweetheart, the servant Kai, choosing duty to her family’s estate over love. But now the world has changed: a new class of Post-Reductionists is jumpstarting the wheel of progress and threatening Luddite control; Elliot’s estate is floundering; and she’s forced 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 Elliott wonders if this could be their second chance, Kai seems determined to show Elliot exactly what she gave up when she abandoned him. But Elliot soon discovers her childhood friend carries a secret—one that could change the society in which they live…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 has 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.
For Darkness Shows the StarsFeatured
What I Loved:
This has to be one of my favorite books from 2012. From the first sentence, I was completely drawn into the story, and it never let me go. The prose is beautiful and direct. The world is solidly built, and I could envision everything as it happened.
And the characters? The characters are AMAZING. I fell in love with them. Nuanced, complicated, flawed ... that describes both the main characters and the secondary characters, a feat few authors accomplish. I was wholeheartedly committed to Kai and Elliot finding their happily-ever-after, and I applaud Ms. Peterfreund for taking most of the book to get to that moment. No insta-love. No sudden resolution of complex conflict. This entire journey, both the romance (which is just ... OMG YOU MUST READ IT) and the tension/conflict outside of their relationship, felt authentic and believable. I can't possibly overstate how much I love this book.
What Left Me Wanting More:
Honestly, not much. I finished this book and felt complete. The only thing I might have wanted was one more scene w/Kai and Elliot together. But really, I just felt satisfied. And also, I felt ruined for any other books for at least a week, which is high praise from someone who reads a book every other day.
Beautiful, accomplished prose, skillful world-building, and characters readers will love to root for make FOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS a must-read.
I am such a fan of retellings. Especially modern retellings of my old favorites. I just absolutely adored this book. It was one part Persuasion and one part sci-fi romance. (and I do NOT like sci-fi books.)
For fans of Persuasion (that won't nitpick every detail), you'll be pleased with what the author has done. The main characters are loyal to their original Austen roles. The trade mark misunderstandings are also in place. There are a few differences that really make this book its own, and not just a copy cat.
For instance, the idea of this man-made plague type disease that destroyed humanity is obviously not Austen. Elliot is a bit more outspoken than her Austen character would be as well. And Kai? Well, Kai is Wentworth. Period.
There isn't much I could say because the plot really does follow the plot of Persuasion. The setting is uniquely its own, which really won me over. It wasn't over the top sci-fi (thank goodness), but it did have a few elements that would appease sci-fi fans. My only gripe is how quickly the ending wrapped up. The psycho father was ushered out of the picture with only a mild fight, and things became all rosy for Elliot in the matter of pages. That felt a bit rushed given the circumstances. I also got a bit annoyed by the letters from a younger Elliot and Kai that kept popping up. I eventually just stopped reading them because I didn't feel like they added much to the story.
I really want to check out the remaining books in the series, but they don't seem to feature the same characters which is a big disappointment for me too. I really want to know what happens for Elliot and Kai.
A Satisfying Retelling
Do you ever have those books where you enjoy reading them WHILE you’re reading, but when you have to put it down it’s not a big deal? That’s what For Darkness Shows the Stars was like for me. While I was reading, I enjoyed the story and the writing, but when I would look down at my watch and see I needed to leave to go to work or a meeting and had to put the book down for a while, it didn’t bother me at all to leave the story. If I had to return this book to the library before I finished, I wouldn’t have been upset at all.
I haven’t read Jane Austen’s Persuasion, so undoubtly this affected my reading of this book in some regards. I LOVED the inclusion of the technology drift. Instead of society being stratified based upon economic class, the two main classes in this book were based upon their views towards technology. The Luddites, or the class of people to which Elliot belongs, shun most technology as evil. I really enjoyed this aspect of the book, and so many of my favorite parts where the ones in which the ethics of technology was debated. I think it was an interesting addition to this story, which at it’s core, is a love story.
The main aspect of this book that made it not a I LOVE THIS! book for me were the characters. Now, I am typically a character-driven reader. Nothing makes me DNF a book faster than characterization that is sloppy or makes no sense. Peterfreund’s characterization wasn’t bad by any means, and they grew and learned throughout the story, but I never felt as emotionally connected to them as I would have liked. I kept reading because the plot intrigued me, but I felt no loyalty towards the characters. I was a happily-ever-after not because I cared about the characters but just because I wanted a happy ending.
By the end of the book, I was only half-heartedly rooting for Elliot, and wasn’t too fussed about Kai at all. They just didn’t stand out to me in any great way. I did think that Peterfreund’s writing was had a great natural rhythm. It felt Austen-like, but in a more modern, contemporary way. As far as actual retellings go, this is a pretty good one from what I know, though I haven’t read the source material. It felt familiar, but with a spin that made the tale fresh.
In short, I liked this book, but I didn’t love it the way I thought I would. I never REALLY felt a strong connection to the characters, and I never felt emotionally invested, only marginally interested. I would have also liked a little more exploration of the ethics of the society. It was a good read and when the book was opened, I enjoyed it, but it’s not a story I fell in love with and would have a desire to re-visit any time soon.
Final Impression: Overall, I enjoyed this book and would recommend it as an entertaining read, but wouldn’t expect to much out of it(which is a bit sad, because the technology ethic in the post-apocalyptic society had SUCH potential!). I did enjoy the plot a lot and by the end, some of the characters, though I wished I had felt that a bit stronger in the beginning. The writing was very Austen-ish and I really enjoyed that aspect of the story. 3/5 cupcakes.
Should we do anything for love?
For Darkness Shows the Stars is one of those book that takes time to develop but when it grip you, it does not let you go until the end.
Inspired by Jane Austen's Persuasion, For Darkness Shows the Stars is set in a post-apocalyptic version of Earth. Social structure reminded me of Gone with the Wind. Luddites govern the land while Reduced are servants. At the start I was confused how we declined into slavery again, but slowly the reasons were revealed to me. Diana Peterfreund really tests your patience in some points. Readers who are used to new fast and gritty style of writing might be bored, but I think lovers of classics will enjoy reading For Darkness Shows the Stars.
For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund
The main focus of For Darkness Shows the Stars is romance. Those who have read Persuasion, know the story well: forbidden young love, pain over unrequited feelings, questioning is everything worth sacrificing for true love... Elliot and Kai had me sighing and signing I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That).
As always dystopian setting also poses some interesting philosophical questions. Do genetical enhancements make us something else than human? Should science be limited? Can some acts be qualified as 'playing God'? Is controlling people 'for their own good' right? Those and many more similar questions were running trough their mind while I was reading.
Diana Peterfreund has another treat scheduled for us on October 15th 2013: Across a Star-Swept Sea is set in the same world and based on The Scarlet Pimpernel. I hope I will enjoy it as much as I did For Darkness Shows the Stars. Until then, prequel novellas Among the Nameless Stars and The First Star To Fall are free on Amazon. I know I will be reading them soon.
In The End...
For Darkness Shows the Stars is written in style which fans of classic literature will enjoy. The world building and characterisation take time to develop but when they do you will sigh over forbidden love and ponder some interesting questions. I know I will be recommending this book to a lot of my friends.
I had my issues, but I couldn't put the story down.
I was confused at first by all the terminology and the groups of people. Even though the synopsis tells a bit, I still was floundering. But the letters between Elliot (also confused me a bit, because she is a girl) and Kai when they were children cleared up some of it. It also served the purpose of setting up their history together, the friendship that spanned years and even though there was a difference in class, they still were smart and had many similarities. After a while though, I began to get tired of the letters, I think mostly because I just don't normally do that format, and skimmed them.
Even with the initial confusion, the writing was good, and Elliot's voice really got me. I wanted for her to succeed, and I admired the responsibility she felt toward those under her in class, to make sure they were fed, and how she truly cared about them as people.
But like Ashley at Nose Graze said better than me... Not a lot happened, it was a lot of talk about what should be right, and if Elliot is doing the right thing, or if she is doing what got the previous generations in so much trouble. And the romance... Kai is pretty mean to Elliot when he comes back, and there is just no justification for that. The things he said about her and her family when she is doing the best she can... Maybe the lit feeling and some of Kai's actions are because of the Persuasion influence and I just don't get it because I have never read it... I don't know.
But I surely cannot deny the chemistry between Kai and Elliot. In their clipped conversations and meetings, it is igniting, and I have to remind myself how mean he was. That he is seeing a 14 year old--which was another thing I hated, but had a feeling that the triangle and age gap is also an Austen influence. I had to remind myself that he was either leading on an innocent and sweet girl, or Elliot would get her heart broken in those moments.
So, even for the world building that confused me, the romance that at the same time enthralled me and that I hated, and the lit feeling, I still couldn't put it down. I had to know what would happen, and I couldn't look away.
For everything that was wrong with this book, the ending was right. It touched me and almost made me cry how everything came together when I didn't see how it possibly could. I will be reading the next one!
Bottom Line: I had my issues, but I couldn't put the story down.
For Darkness Shows the Stars
Important point: Persuasion is my favorite Jane Austen novel, and it’s one of my favorite novels ever. Period, dot, end of story. Any attempt to “retell” that novel will rub me the wrong way, since it can only ever be a knock-off (read: desecration) of Persuasion. Now, just to be clear, For Darkness Shows the Stars is an extremely awesome book, and Diana Peterfreund actually does Austen’s original justice. But. It isn’t the original, it can never compare to the original; therefore, I hate it. And I love it.
Stupid book, making my feels take sides against each other. It isn’t fair.
This book was pitched to me by several sources as being “Persuasion in space.” Considering the title and cover, I was expecting aliens, spaceships, and something or other about Luke’s father and Wookies. Alas! There was no space travel (or Jedis) in For Darkness Shows the Stars—I almost feel cheated. Rather, this novel takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where excessive genetic modification has made people stupid, i.e. “Reduced.”
Apparently, this Reduction was God’s punishment on mankind for attempting to be, well…God. Cue my first issue with this novel. So I get that God punished people; that’s fine, I have no problem with that (as a plot point). I do have problems with the fact that Elliot North (the protagonist) never really resolves and/or reconciles her God problems (like daddy problems, only worse). Is genetic modification really bad? It created the apocalypse, so it must be, yet Elliot’s off doing her own experiments that she feels are “sin.” You can’t have it both ways, honey. In the end Elliot just kind of…stops thinking about God? Like because she’s in love and her world is suddently perfect, so she can just forget about the great emotional turmoil that she’s been fighting because she doesn’t know if God approves of what she’s doing.
Seriously, Peterfreund? You can’t throw in a HUGE theme like “doing God’s will” into your book only to blow it off at the end, throw your hands up in the air and say “Oh look, they get married!” and all is resolved. Nope, not buying it.
Yeah, um. Most of my problems with this book have to do with the way the plot was resolved. But good stuff first.
Characterization was top-notch. Of Jane Austen’s heroines, Anne Elliot is the least proactive, which many readers don’t like. Peterfruend’s version of her, Elliot North, is definitely very proactive. She sticks up for herself and for others. The scene where she looses her temper and tells Kai off for being a grouchy haterboy was absolutely phenomenal, and I just liked her personality all around. I found it very interesting how the author was able to stay true to the Spirit of Austen (yes, that is a proper noun) yet manage to create a protagonist who’s entirely different.
Kai—Malakai Wentforth—was also a strong character, though he stayed more true to his inspiration, Wentworth. Supporting characters were all good and interesting, though Elliot’s older sister, Tatiana, had some very ambiguous motivations that, looking back, I now question.
Also: world-building. One reason I hate reading dystopian fiction is because I’m never satisfied in the world-building department. Not the case here! The whys and wherefores of how this society came to be were explained to my satisfaction, and not in an info-dumpy kind of way.
Plot in general was also good. Obviously, I knew how everything was going to end and I wasn’t surprised in the least by any of the various plot twists. Peterfreund definitely stayed very true to Persuasion as far as plot points, character relationships, etc. go. I was a little annoyed when she lifted lines or sentences straight from Austen, because it felt forced and jolted me out of my reading zone and made me remember that I was, in fact, reading a retelling.
But the end was awful. I just…mmm. Me = angry. Many thoughts, no words to express them. I think what the author was trying to do was give For Darkness Shows the Stars a nice kick in the pants and zest things up with some originality. Except it was just awful and lovey-dovey and yuck. Yuck yuck yuck. The “letter scene” is one of the most powerful and memorable things in Austen’s novel, and it was something I was looking forward to in this retelling. Major disappointment.
And there you have it. I have not read another desecration of Jane Austen that I enjoyed nearly so much. This novel stayed true to the Spirit of Austen, took a few well-intentioned liberties that may or may not have panned out, and managed to tell a good story, too. I would probably recommend this more towards readers who haven’t already read Persuasion. Just be forewarned that there are no Wookies, lightsabers, or incestuous twins in sight.
I Loved this book was so awesome!!
Luddites- Now Luddites are the people that rejected generic engineering. They wear simple clothes, don't embrace technology and are what they think "taking" care of others that are less like them.
Reduced- These are the people that are being taken "care" of by the Luddites on Estates. Reduced are not "normal" because of past generic engineering. Reduced have become just that not of sound mind. Like the average human being.
COR (Child of Reduced) - After generations the reduced are giving birth to children that are in my opinion within the same mental/physical guidelines of the Luddites. But COR's still work and are treated as reduced.
Post- Are children of the reduced, some not all have gone away from their Luddite Estates and made a different life for themselves. Post are smart sometimes smarter than Luddites. Post technology is awesome.
Why the history lesson because in knowing a little brief history behind the book, you will love it from the start not after 20-30 pages in!
Diane Peterfreund is brilliant, so Jane Austen inspired. How did she pull it off in a book like this, I have no idea. Every word captivated me. I stayed up one night my eyes just would not let go of the pages. I could not help but feel sorry for Elliot, she was trapped in between two worlds her kindness, softness, fragile world of caring for others, loving the Reduced/Posts that she spent her whole life with on her father's Estate. Working her body to the bone to overcome a father with no hint of money smarts. To that of a world of being free, free to love, free to help herself and not be a self inflicted prisoner for the care of others. Elliot loves beauty, throughout the story. I found that Elliot feared herself, afraid of letting go, seeing what might be.
Elliot's love Kai, oh how Diane brought out the inspiration of Jane Austen Through Kai later to be Captain Wentforth. Kai drew me into the book, not really understanding were he was emotionally with Elliot gave me a mystery I craved. Wanted more love and romance between them. At times I was screaming do you love her or not!!!!
I don't want to give to much away but I can say that Diane Peterfreund landed me on cloud nine with a lovely writing style switching back and for between Elliot's present day and her past. I give this book 5/5 Smacks. Epic vision of the future in a time that brought separation, Diane brought togetherness. A future as bright as all could see. The only question I'm posing on this book is when is the next. Please let there be a part two.
Whatever kind of genre of book you love it doesn't matter you will love this. Pick it up and you won't let go!
In a little side note I would love to add at the end of this book all Jane Austen fans must read the Acknowledgements! Love it, more please I'm begging!
For Darkness Shows the Stars (A Room with Books review)
For Darkness Shows the Stars is beautiful. Peterfreund deserves a round of applause for the way she played with my emotions.
When I picked up For Darkness Shows the Stars I thought to myself: “okay epic romance, let’s do this thing!” But when Malakai finally shows up on the pages I was all “No. Way. Kick him in the shins, Elliot! Throw something at him! Run away! But whatever you do don’t you dare fall for him in the end.” But then Kai slowly started being nice to Elliot and I started falling for him just as much as Elliot. By the end I was ready to cry buckets of tears if something came between them. What I’m trying to say by all this is: Diana Peterfruend is a master of emotions. I wasn’t just going with the flow of the story; I really got swept up into it.
Elliot is an admirable character. She does everything that actually matters (such as managing the money, caring for the workers, and making sure everyone has enough to eat) on the family estate and gets none of the credit. In fact, her father basically thinks of her entire existence as a nuisance. The thing is, though, Elliot doesn’t even care for the credit. She just wants to keep her Posts cared for and safe. The Posts that Elliot is close to are great side characters, especially Dee and Ro. They may not be main characters, but you really get a sense for who they are and I rather liked that.
Then, of course, there’s Malakai. We get a sense of who he is before he even steps foot in the pages because the reader has both Elliot’s memory and Kai’s old letters to her to work with. But then Malakai Wentforth actually comes into the story and basically blows all that out of the water. He’s mean and unnecessarily cruel to Elliot and I hated him. Over time he grows much less prickly and grew on me fast. Basically, Kai/Malakai is a rather complex character who I applaud Peterfuend for.
The world itself is fairly fleshed out. I could have done with more back-story and talk of the dystopian aspect, but when the day arrives that I don’t want more dystopian descriptions and back-story I’ll be rather shocked.
The Nutshell: For Darkness Shows the Stars is a fantastic futuristic romance. I’m not one who usually enjoys a story with a romantic focal point, but I adored this one. If you like strong heroines and jerky boys who are actually nice then you definitely need to read this.
Not Quite What I'd Hoped
This is going to be a tough review for me to write. It seems the books you've most been anticipating are the ones that are most difficult to reflect upon. I had so many expectations going into For Darkness Shows the Stars (FDStS), something you can tell if you scroll back through my blog posts. In fact, I was entirely confident that this book would be a new FAVORITE, because how could a dystopian/Austen combo NOT become one of my top reads of all time? Well, with those weighty expectations, FDStS did not entirely satisfy me.
Peterfreund is a marvelous author, and she truly accomplishes what she aimed for in FDStS. First off, she got the Persuasion aspects of the story pitch perfect. The characters and their emotions are all by the book. Though many of the scenes and the overall situation are greatly changed, there is no doubting that this is a futuristic retelling of Persuasion. I am seriously impressed by Peterfreund's talent and how she made a story about an older couple (for their time) into a story about teenagers. Though I do feel it might have worked a bit better with slightly older main characters, she did make the tale work for youths.
What makes that work is the society in which FDStS is set. The world has regressed, run by Luddites, those who fear technology. Messing with genes, robotics and medicines, humans became close to gods, but there was an unfortunate consequence: the Reduction. Wars and, perhaps, divine punishment left the world populated by the Luddites, largely unchanged and the Reduced, unable to speak and used as slaves. The Luddites are much like the landowners of Austen's time: wealthy, privileged and built upon the backs of abused workers.
This political and social landscape is complicated more and more as time passes. Not all children of the Reduced are Reduced as well. Some of them (1 in 20) has all the capabilities of a regular person. The Luddites, comfy in their estates, try to keep the CORs (Children of the Reduced) in the same menial state, bound by the same laws. The CORs prefer to think of themselves as Posts (Post-Reduction), the beginning of something new. This is a time of upheaval, a nice parallel to the social issues in Austen's novels. The Posts have money and talent that Elliot's Luddite family now lacks, much like Captain Wentworth earned a fortune in the army in Austen's Persuasion.
Elliot, like her namesake Anne Elliot, does not fit in with her family. Her father and sister care only about material things: clothing, racetracks and other such trappings. Elliot works hard to try to help the Posts and the Reduced on the family farms and estate, burdened by her family's extravagance. Meanwhile, she is haunted by worries about what has become of the boy she loved as a child, Kai, who left to find fortune at 14.
In Persuasion, Anne Elliot turned down Wentworth's initial proposal because her family deemed him unworthy. In Elliot's case, she let him go of her own volition, not because of any direct social pressure. Still, she has always loved him and they have been friends since a young age, due to their shared birthday. Interspersed with the main part of the novel are letters the two snuck back and forth to one another throughout their childhood. These, while sometimes entertaining, perhaps could have been reduced, or at least put into chronological order. Bouncing around in time really didn't help their impact.
My issue with the book, despite its quality, is that I did not connect to Elliot or to Kai. Persuasion, though beautiful, is not my favorite Austen novel. I have trouble forgiving Anne and Wentworth for their behavior to one another, especially Wentworth's stupid and shameless flirting with the stupid neighbor girl. Peterfreund did such a good job with their characters that I feel much the same about Elliot and Kai. While I root for them more than I do for the other characters, I also didn't feel any special warmness towards them.
So there you have it as clearly as I can manage to put it. FDStS is brilliantly done, but it didn't touch my heart, at least not on this reading. I do think it's funny that her unicorn series is much darker than her dystopia. Still, if you're interested in this one, do give it a try.
Could it Be Love?
At first, I wasn't really satisfied with this book. But upon further sitting, I might've loved this book.
So, I'm familiar with almost all of Jane Austen's work. I remember the basic storyline of Persuasion, so I knew what to expect romance-wise from For Darkness Shows the Stars. With such a different world, a different setting, that was what I wanted explored. I wanted to know all about this new world and the slang and how things worked. But I felt like Diana didn't really go into that, which was pretty disappointing. Thinking about it now, I think the world was well built, there was quite a bit of detail. I just wanted more because the world was fascinating and totally new where the romance was not.
The romance was really incredible, though. I hadn't realized how attached I was while reading, but then I'd put the book down and my heart would be sad. I just wanted Elliot and Kai to be happy and it wasn't happening. Then the book ended and all I wanted was more. I wanted to know what happens for them next. They just had this really incredible chemistry that I adored.
For Darkness Shows the Stars also has this very different layout. It's told in the present day as well as by letters from the past between Kai and Elliot. It kind of annoyed me first because I just wanted to know what happened next, but I think the break-up was really good for the story over all. It gave you more layers and more context about what happened between them in the past instead of just telling you.
Elliot was a very admirable character. She really had her servants' best interests in mind. She was strong and determined and I loved watching her grow stronger and more confident and defiant. She was truly incredible, even if I hated her name (I got the reference, but Elliot is a guy's name to me and of the two Elliot's I know, one is my brother and the other's...not a good guy.)
My one complaint that I still have is actually about Kai. I know he's angry and bitter and probably is convinced that Elliot doesn't care about him, but he seemed almost too stand-offish and angry. He had his moments, but for the most part, besides the letters, I had a hard time buying he ever loved her.
Honestly, For Darkness Shows the Stars is pretty freaking incredible. Diana Peterfreund is an excellent writer who really knew what she was doing when she decided to do a retelling of an Austen novel. I highly recommend this one, even if you don't like Austen's work. Anyone who likes romance, awesome world building, steampunk/historical fiction/sci-fi, or a wonderful main character can definitely appreciate this book.
Review: For Darkness Shows the Stars
Over the past few years, more than a few novels have taken inspiration from Jane Austen's work. There have been various modern and futuristic re-tellings of Pride and Prejudice so I was more than a little curious to read the dystopian story inspired by Jane Austen's Persuasion, a novel which I have come to love just as much, if not more, than Pride and Prejudice itself. However, to my greatest surprise and immense disappointment, the fact that For Darkness Shows the Stars is inspired by Persuasion, and takes much of its plot-line from it, was one of its greatest downfalls as a novel.
The premises of For Darkness Shows the Stars is fascinating and I was hooked by this intriguing dystopian setting from the moment I began reading. Elliot North lives in a futuristic world where a genetic mutation from generations past has failed, leaving much of the population Reduced. These Reduced individuals lack the intelligence that normal people, or the Luddites, possess and as such, have been used as slaves on farms and plantations. During the time of the genetic manifestation, all those who opposed this change went into hiding in caverns and emerged, now more sophisticated than their fellow brethren for not having succumbed to the power that this genetic change was meant to bring about. However, what these Luddites did not anticipate was the fact that the offspring of the Reduced, known as the Posts, would be normal individuals like them.
Needless to say, this interesting set-up and situation gives rise to a great many possible scenarios and potential for this novel to be astounding. I applaud Diana Peterfreund for her imagination and her skill in world-building as she cleverly uncovered the hidden secrets behind this dystopian realm and developed Elliot’s character through her perception of the world she lived in. Furthermore, I appreciated the complex relationships between Elliot and her family and friends and I came to admire Peterfreund’s slow growth of these many friendships. However, For Darkness Shows the Stars focuses primarily on the romance between Elliot North, a Luddite, and Kai, her best friend, former slave, and a Post. In fact, despite the fact that one of the main characters is himself a descendant from a long line of laborers, this issue is never brought forth and discussed as it should be.
One of the many aspects in this novel that happened to grate on me was the fact that the slavery in this story was completely glossed over. Elliot claims that none of the brutality, harsh punishments, and danger that the Reduced and the Posts faced as slaves ever happened on her plantation, and as such, this issue was discarded and never brought up again. Although Elliot does her best to protect the slaves on her plantation and does her best to make amends to their lives, she still does nothing to release them from their bonds to her as an owner. As an American who has had the history of slavery and the Civil War pounded into her head year after year, I can say that even if torture was not occurring at Elliot’s plantation, injustice certainly was. I kept expecting Elliot, who herself has fallen in love with a Post, to do something by the end of the novel to aid these slaves and end the reign of slavery on her fields by giving them wages, but I was disappointed by the lack of action on this front. Slavery has been studied time and time again merely because of its utter significance and the fact that this topic was never given the amount of depth or consideration that it deserved to get in this novel bothered me.
Another one of the biggest faults I found with this novel was the fact that it was based upon Austen’s Persuasion. I could not help but compare For Darkness Shows the Stars to one of my favorite Jane Austen classics, and as such, this novel failed to even live up to the perfection of that love story. Austen’s Persuasion follows the story of sweet, kind, and gentle Ann Elliot, a girl who is wrought by guilt at having declined a marriage proposal from the man she loves. When Ann meets Captain Wentworth years later, it is, needless to say, one of the most awkward and embarrassing situations to have ever been touched upon in literature. Yet, Ann manages to deal with this situation with poise, despite falling apart on the inside. Throughout the novel we are constantly kept on the edge of our seats in suspense of whether or not Wentworth has truly moved on or whether he still loves Ann. This ultimate revelation is finally conveyed to the reader in the form of one of the most romantic and beautifully written love letters of all time.
However, For Darkness Shows the Stars tells the story of Elliot North who is forced to decline her lover’s offer to run away. At the time when Kai makes his proposition, Elliot’s mother has just passed away and she simply cannot leave her estate or her plantation. Furthermore, when Kai and Elliot meet four years later, he does not hesitate to make his anger towards Elliot known, casting her more in the role of the victim opposed to the guilty perpetrator. In addition, Kai’s true feelings are revealed to the reader long before his letter is read by Elliot, making it seem rather useless and lose the charm, beauty, and romantic quality that it held in Persuasion.
I would, by no means, discourage other readers from reading this novel, but I would not whole-heartedly recommend it either. I admire Diana Peterfreund for thinking up such a unique setting and I applaud her world-building efforts in the first half of this novel, but that is unfortunately where my praise of this story ends. Although I must admit that I enjoyed reading For Darkness Shows the Stars, I found this futuristic re-telling of one of my favorite Austen novels to be a disappointment. I definitely think I would have enjoyed this story more if it had not stuck so closely to the classic it was mirrored off of and if Peterfreund had managed to take her own unique spin on this famous tale. Although she did manage to add her own unique aspects to it in the form of the futuristic world she had created, the ultimate love story perfectly followed that of Jane Austen. Furthermore, I found that the ending was a little too rushed with all the loose threads wrapping themselves up too nicely in preparation for the end of the novel. Just as movies fail to live up to the books they are based off of, this novel failed to live up to the classic it was inspired by. Ultimately, it seems, nothing can possibly beat the original.
You can read this review and more on my blog, Ivy Book Bindings