Review: “For the Darkness Shows the Stars” by Diana Peterferund

Title: “For the Darkness Shows the Stars”

Author: Diana Peterferund

Genre: YA, Sci-Fi, Dystopia

Release Date: June 24, 2012 (expected)

Summary: 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.

☆: 4.5/5 stars – an AWESOME retelling!

Review:I admit that I haven’t read “Persuasion”, but I’ve read Peterferund’s previous work, and loved it. “For the Darkness” doesn’t disappoint. In a world several hundred years after humanity has nearly destroyed itself, a new society has been built by the new nobility, the Luddites, the peasants, the Reduced, and the new middle class, the Posts and it’s absolutely gorgeous. It actually makes me want to read the original if just to compare. All I know is that I absolutely adored this retelling, and when I reached the last page, I wanted to turn back to the first and start all over again.

This is not an easy book to read in the emotional sense – there’s a lot of heartbreak with Elliot and Kai, budding love with the Groves and the other Innovations, and a lot of lack of family love within Elliot’s family (especially with her father and sister). The entire “threatened estate” bit felt a whole lot like something from “Downton Abbey” and I absolutely loved that. I loved Elliot as a heroine even with the lack of love and her emotional issues (and the fact that the entire North estate is now on her shoulders in terms of survival), and Peterferund just really had her character nailed. Elliot felt like a real girl, 100%. Kai was a little less filled out, but I was satisfied with his character construction as well. In fact, with all of the characters, I couldn’t really find anything to really poke at. When it comes down to it, Peterferund knows what she’s doing, and you can tell this one was definitely a labor of love on her part.

Her use of sensory language and imagery was perhaps the most powerful I’ve read from her so far – I loved her “Rampant” series, and that was pretty rich in terms of sensory language, but “For the Darkness” tops it. The Star Cavern, the Cliffs, the terror of the Birthing House…all of it was as if I was really there, next to the characters as the story played out. I could smell the dust of the new racing track, feel the chaffs of wheat, dance with everyone at the Fall Harvest Party. It’s definitely one of the most intense reading experiences of the year in this aspect – in my top ten for sure. Going hand in hand with the sensory language is the worldbuilding – we get a hint of the world before humanity became Reduced, but Peterferund really rebuilds the world into something new and bucolic and even with Elliot’s small rebellions, very bucolic and utterly charming. It felt like a real, full world – and I think that’s more than partially due to how it was written – interchanging POV narration with that of the letters between Kai and Elliot and journal entries from the past. It’s one of the more different approaches to worldbuilding that I’ve seen for this year, and I hope authors take note from her technique.

The rest of the technical details are outstanding – the arcs and sub-arcs were executed beautifully and generally, there’s nothing I can find to really poke or pick at except for the fact that I wish there was a little (but not too much) more of the previous world lurking about in terms of the setting (like ruins or something), but that’s kind of a minor detail in terms of setting. Overall, I was very, very satisfied and pleasantly surprised at how this knocked me off my feet. I read this in one sitting with only a few breaks, and I know I’ll be reading it again. I’m a bit sad this one is a standalone because I got so attached to the world and the characters, but at the same time, I’m glad it’s a standalone because now I can have the mental freedom to wonder what’s going to happen to our heroes next.
Final verdict? A definite must-read, as this one’s in my top ten for best of 2012 so far list. “For the Darkness Shows the Stars”is out from Balzer + Bray/HarperTeen on June 12, 2012. You simply cannot miss this one, guys. Highly, highly recommended!


2 thoughts on “Review: “For the Darkness Shows the Stars” by Diana Peterferund

  1. Pingback: usagi’s challenges for 2012! « birth of a new witch.

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