For Darkness Shows the Stars
Author: Diana Peterfreund
Release: June 12th 2012
Genre: Dystopia, Post-Apocalypse, Romance, YA
Companion novel: Across a Star-Swept Sea
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.
This was one of those books I took one look at and immediately bought. Not knowing what it was about or if it was good, I simply saw a person whose taste I trust very much give its companion novel 5 stars and at that time, I didn't know these were only companion novels, and thought it was simply a series, so I obviously started with the first book. Alas, I was a little disappointed. It's actually my own fault though, because I didn't inform myself properly. Seeing this cover, I expected one of two things: a) a sci-fi novel that takes place in space and is a little like These Broken Stars, or b) a Fanatsy novel along the lines of Shadow & Bone, with mages that control darkness and such. Perhaps it was only wishful thinking, but I was sorely disappointed at finding it was "only" a shabby Persuasion retelling set in a dystopian, post-apocalyptic world, which in itself should have made me more than wary.
I'll admit, though, that the world-building was done properly and doesn't leave much room for criticism, but Peterfreund solved the issue in a very easy and cheap way: after almost every chapter, she included the letters Elliot and Kai used to write to each other during their childhood, questioning the system and also telling each other about what they learned about how their society came to be, thus telling the reader in a very unexciting way, too. What I can complain about with this method though, is that after a while, these letters completely annoyed me and disrupted the events of the plot. Often, there was some shocking revelation at the end of the chapter that made you want to just begin the next one and read on, but then there were 3-4 pages of damn letters in between.
Anyways, I haven't read Persuasion (yet), so unfortunately I can't compare these books, but I thought romance would play a huge deal in this one. However, Elliot and Kai do not even kiss once in this book, not even in the end, at least not that we truly know of. And he was being a jerk to Elliot up until the last 50 pages, which made his sudden proclamation of love utterly ridiculous and didn't convince me of his charms. In the end, he remained a tattling, resentful and childish dick.
Elliot wasn't much better, at least not during the first half of For Darkness Shows the Stars. I'll admit though, that during the second half, she finally takes matters into her own hands and stands up to everyone who's holding her down, which made me truly admire and be proud of her. Took you long enough, to finally grasp that Kai and your daddy are douchebags. I got tired of her inner monologues pretty quickly, mainly because they only ever included these two things: a) “Well Olivia can't be blamed for him falling for her” and b) “my wheat!” It was the same all the time, and it was aggravating. However, like I said, she does get better though so ... I won't be too hard on her.
The other characters were pretty two-dimensional, with little else beyond their character archetypes in for them. And let's not mention that any adults, with the exception of Felicia, were mostly conveniently absent for a lot of the novel and only ever showed up to fuck things up. Elliot's father was handily away for months at a time, visiting a friend, and when the time was right he came back to mess her life up and be the evil villain in the story as well as the roadblock that denies Elliot any and all happiness in her life. It was almost laughable how convenient all of these characters were to fulfill Peterfreund's happy ending in the end. Donovan, Andromeda, Felicia, Olivia, even Ro... they were all a means to an end and nothing more. They weren't really any characters to creep up on you.
Plot itself was very limited, because this novel focuses more on the society and relationship issues, and so there really, really isn't much more happening than what is described in the blurb. That secret that Kai carries is essentially the only plot twist here, anything else was utterly predictable, I was actually angry multiple times because I've seen what was coming from a mile away, while the characters were so blind.
Despite all of its faults though, it's still a nice enough story that will keep you mildly entertained, and it was far from one of the worst books I've ever read. I'm still extremely disappointed though, and I really hope its companion novel is as good as everyone else says it is. I hope it's better than this.