Review: For Darkness Shows The Stars by Diana Peterfreund

Ratings: 3/5 stars ★★★☆☆

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Diana Peterfreund presents you Jane Austen’s Persuasion…with a twist!!

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That was my initial reaction, but as it turns out, this book is not as terrible as I thought it would be.

Before I get into this review, let me make it clear that I am a huge Jane Austen fan. That being said, Persuasion is the only book by Jane Austen that I absolutely hated–I was able to force my way through all of Sense and Sensibility–but halfway through Persuasion, I realized that the only way to preserve my good opinion of Jane Austen is by putting this book down. I hate it when I see girls be like–

ilyBut the guys they love are like–

7295843And yet–

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My reaction to this type of BS love stories:

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But I digress.

The Writing: For Darkness Shows The Stars is not really a bad book. It’s a re-telling of a classic in a sci-fi dystopia theme, which I thought was pretty creative. I didn’t know it was a re-telling until halfway through the book, but I still recognized Austen’s style throughout the story. What strikes me amazing that it still didn’t ruin Diana Peterfreund’s own voice–even though I felt like I was reading a Jane Austen novel I could still see the writer’s originality in every word. She even went so far as to use the almost the same kind of restraint that Austen had always used in romantic scenes. She deserves an applause for that.

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Unfortunately, the story progresses at an incredibly slow pace. The tortoise-speed of the story nearly made me fall asleep.I can’t count the number of times I almost gave up and marked this as DNF, so consider yourself warned: if you’re gonna read this book, you’ll be needing to have some patience.

The Plot: Despite the slow writing, there’s no denying that this book sends a powerful message. This is a novel that focuses extensively on discrimination, and repeatedly questions the impacts of aggressive technological advancements and our policies of using it. This is a book that makes you wonder where does the line that divides science as a tool for making a better world and science as a weapon to destroy the world starts to become blurry. It addresses issues of human rights, social castes and prejudices, and (this is my favorite part) the struggles of a young woman as she tries to choose between her loyalty to her family and her basic moral conscience.

A poster-child for the negative effects of genetic engineering, in the world of For Darkness Shows The Stars, years of extensive experimentation to make the perfect human beings backfired and resulted in the creation of the Reduced–a race of unnaturally beautiful and tragically helpless people–and eventually, the world we knew became nothing more than a wasteland. Those who refused the genetic modifications had gone into hiding, and after the worst was over they came out and appointed themselves as caretakers for the Reduced and abolished all sorts of scientific experimentation or research, even something as harmless producing cross-breed wheat.

As it turns out, the Luddites’ way of taking care of the Reduced was by forcing the Reduced and their descendants (the Children of the Reduced aka COR aka Posts) into doing all the hard labor that the Luddites were way too much of a snob to do themselves.

So you see there’s a lot of things going on in this re-telling of Persuasion. It’s not merely a love story. It’s a story that makes you think.

The Characters: Honestly, I couldn’t really find any flaw with any of the characters except for Kai and how Elliot and Kai are just so in love but just can’t be together. Don’t get me wrong, I love forbidden romances, but I don’t like it when it is constantly thrown in my face.

To make matters worse, Kai is a real d*ck to Elliot because she was…ahem, please note the sarcasm here…was so selfish that she chose to protect the poor, mistreated Reduced and their children on her father’s estate instead of riding off into the sunset with him.

And yet, Elliot can’t stop loving him even when he–

  1. Publicly insults her and blames her for all the crappy things happening to the Reduced even though it’s not her fault.
  2. Bitches about her to everyone he knows
  3. Intentionally flirts with another girl he has no feelings for just to spite her
  4. 9 out of the ten sentences that comes out of his mouth are intended to make her feel like shit.

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This was the same reason why I hated Persuasion. I hate it when girls are portrayed this way to show that their love is unconditional. I understand why Peterfreund chose to stick to the original love story the way it happened, but when you consider the liberties she has taken with this re-telling she could have just as easily toned down the girls-are-spineless-when-they-fall-in-love theme.

The only saving grace was when Elliot finally stood up for herself, to her father and to Kai (sort of) though personally, I thought she could have stood up to Kai a lot sooner than she did. However, Elliot’s overall character arc was inspiring, and sends the message of independence and the need to fight for what you believe.

The Ending: Again this was another failure. The ending of this book was honestly a bit abrupt and left me feeling kind of disappointed. It ends with a vague promise of a sequel but does not provide enough intrigue to make me even slightly interested.

Next review: Tandem (Many-Worlds Trliogy#1) by Anna Jarzab. Stay tuned!

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