After a series of genetic experiments went wrong, those who were against technology being used to enhance humans became the nobility, the Luddites. Those who experimented too much on their bodies instead became Reduced, and according to the Luddites, punished for their sins against God, as they lost some basic human functions, like speech.
When Elliot North refused to run away with Kai, she did it to protect her position and her estate. The daughter of a powerful Luddite lord, Elliot has responsibilities to her estate that she couldn’t just abandon when Kai, the son of a Reduced servant asked her to run away with him to escape the hierarchy.
What Elliot never expected though was to meet Kai again, now known as Captain Malakai Wentworth, a powerful man, who reminds her nothing of her childhood sweetheart. But Kai isn’t the only one who has changed; the time of the Luddite nobility seems to be coming to an end, as the children of the Reduced, the Post-Reductionists, seem poised for a revolution, not unlike the original one that created the Reduced and the Luddites.
And this time there’s more at stake for Elliot; she stands to lose both her position as nobility and her heart.
Some of you might not know that I’m a big fan of Jane Austen. Pride and Prejudice is one of my all-time favourite books. Despite the fact that I am a self-proclaimed Austenite, I have still never read Persuasion.
Now what does that have to do with For Darkness Shows the Stars, you ask? It’s actually based on Persuasion! That’s the reason this title came onto my radar, since retellings of Jane Austen’s work really interest me. And after reading this, I think I’m finally going to plow through Persuasion once and for all!
Unfortunately, I can’t compare the similarities between the plot, but it seems to follow the trajectory of a spurned love quite well, and the story behind the story was what grabs your attention in the beginning. What I mean by this is that Peterfreund captures the essence of knowing that the story exists well before you open the first page of the book. There’s a history between these two characters and each word uttered carries a double meaning.
The dystopian society was what deterred me from this initially. Even when I started reading it, it took me awhile to understand the complex relationship between the Luddite nobility and Reduced and Posts lower class. At times, it seemed like a stretch to try and recreate the class structure of Austen’s England into a dystopian society, but as I kept reading, it seemed to make more sense. The divide between the classes is because of technology and religion, which led for some interesting discussion between the characters throughout the novel.
Elliot wasn’t a doormat of a protagonist, and I really appreciated this about her. She is subject to her father’s unreasonable requests, but still she tries to subvert his expectations of her by helping out the Reduced and Posts that work for them, by granting them rights her father refuses them.
The relationship between her and Kai was also an interesting one, and kind of reminded me of a ping-pong ball as they both kept ignoring each other, saying hurtful things to one another, and then going back to ignoring each other. The class divide between them also added an extra layer of tension, which still seems as insurmountable, at least to Elliot, now as it was in the past.
Each chapter starts with a series of letters between the two characters, and while these were informative and interesting in the beginning, got annoying and unnecessary towards the middle. Other than showing the playful banter between the two kids, there wasn’t much new information as the letters went on, and what’s more, they were confusing to follow because they kept jumping backwards and forwards in time.
While I’m not sure whether this book is part of a series, since the story finishes where Persuasion does, I’m still intrigued by this world of Luddites and Post-Reductionists, and look forward to future works in this series.
So for that: 3.5/5.
Thanks for reading,