Sunday, September 30, 2012

For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

This was one of those books that attracted me with the cover and the title. I read that it was a retelling of Jane Austen's Persuasion, except with a mixture of science fiction. That is actually something I would really enjoy, so I decided to read the book.

For those who don't know, Persuasion is the story of old maid Anne Elliot (She's 27). She had been romantically involved with a man named Frederick Wentworth years previously, but she broke off their engagement because of a friend's advise. Now, she lives with her father and sister, their finances are in ruins, and Wentworth comes back as a celebrated Captain. He isn't very nice to Anne and flirts with a bunch of girls in front of her. Though (Spoiler) things end up okay because the one girl he led on gets some head injury and falls in love with another dude, and Wentworth confesses that he loved Anne all along. I'd be mad at him, though his letter to her is one of the sweetest things I've ever read.

For Darkness Shows the Stars changes the setting a bit. It's almost dystopian, set after an event called the Reduction devastated the planet and killed off most of the population. Now, a group of rich people called Luddites are in charge. They believe that the Reduction was caused by people messing with science, trying to make themselves into gods. Elliot North (Our Anne) fears that the genetically modified crops she creates will bring the wrath of God upon her farm, but her family is so poor that she has to try something so they won't starve.

Just as in Persuasion, the Norths are visited by a group of shipbuilders and one, Captain Malakai Wentworth, Kai, was once a worker on their farm and very close with Elliot. Now, he is newly rich and successful, and he wants absolutely nothing to do with her.

As far as Jane Austen retellings go, I liked this one. It had the same characters, but the story ventured far enough away that it wasn't just Jane Austen with a couple steamships thrown in to liven things up a bit. Persuasion was the last Austen novel I read, and I always enjoyed the story of longing and regret. I think that the added conflict of belief between the characters augments the story. Elliot dabbles in science, but she fears the consequences. Kai travelled the world and used technology to make his fortune. Having read Persuasion, I wasn't surprised by the ending of the book, but I still enjoyed the slight twist on the same story.

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