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. Quoted from Goodreads
If you discount Pride and Prejudice, which I grew up with and have all sorts of warm, gushy feelings towards and can't quite separate from my early adolescence enough to be objective, Persuasion is my favorite of all Jane Austin's novels. Then Dianna Peterfreund decided to turn it into a dystopia/scifi retelling. It could have gone both ways, I suppose, but I loved it.
If you've read Persuasion, the plot of For Darknes Shows the Stars should be familiar. And it is. But it is different enough that you still have to keep reading. Plus the amazing world building! I love a new, creative world or concept, and for me, this one had that in spades. Its such a delightful mix of new vs. old, and convenience vs. fear.
The characters themselves are also different, while retaining a similar dynamic. For example, Kai is more resentful of Elliot than Persuasion's Captain Wentworth, but then, he's a eighteen-year-old boy instead of a thirty-plus-year-old man, so it makes sense. And he absolutely has his sweet moments, so no worries. You still fall in love with him, but his pain and resentment is more apparent. Then there's Elliot's father. He isn't the vein, delusional peacock that he was in Persuasion. He's still arrogant and superior, but he's more vindictive and power hungry.
Elliot herself is strong, determined, and loyal. I love her inner struggle between everything she was raised to believe and the new world introduced with the arrival of the Cloud Fleet. The poor girl has so many moral debates on top of her ever-present heartbreak and the burden of managing an estate, that you can't help but feel for her. Plus, she tries to be so good to the people under her and shield them from the bitter whims of her father.
As far as the writing goes, it's beautiful and descriptive, bringing the world to life. Personally, I couldn't put it down, but I know people that thought the first half was a bit slow. Again, I didn't have a problem, and by the time you get half way through the book, you have to keep going til the end. Diana Peterfreund alternates between chapters set in the present and letters from Elliot and Kai's past. I found them a fun way to learn more about their childhood relationship and the way they fell in love.
So, should you read this book? Yes. Absolutely. More if you love Persuasion. It is a lovely four stars for me. I love the world and the characters. I love the plot, and think Peterfreund did an excellent job of capturing the spirit of the story while changing it enough to keep it interesting.