For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund
Series: For Darkness Shows the Stars #1
Published by Balzer + Bray on June 12th, 2012
Shelve It: Goodreads
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.
For Darkness Shows the Stars was a tumultuous tale of love, heartache and realization. Set on a post-apocalyptic backdrop, the plot thrived on the growing tensions between those in control, and those questioning why. Amidst familial politics, the threat of forgetting oneself and ones values, and a romance for the ages, For Darkness Shows the Stars was captivating from beginning to end!
Being thrown into a world divided into two classes, the Luddites and everyone else, For Darkness Shows the Stars wasted no time building up its post-apocalyptic world. Having survived a genetic disorder caused through gene manipulation by hiding underground, a group of persons who identify themselves as the Luddites now reign superior over the Reduced and the Posts and, for all they know, they are Earths last surviving inhabitants. Living under the mandate of certain protocols, the Luddites have returned to a simpler way of life, so as not to cause another reduction. The Reduced are mostly mute and dumb, the result of “playing God” by trying to create a superior race of humans, while the Posts believe they are proof that they are immune to the diseases of their past, having overcome the reduction. I absolutely loved uncovering the sordid past of these people, and with each piece, I was able to build a picture that closely resembles some of the genetic experiments scientists of today are performing. It added a level of realism to For Darkness Shows the Stars, and gave me chills when I realized the implications presented aren’t as farfetched as we would like to believe. While it definitely took a few chapters for me to get a good grasp on the history, I was pleasantly surprised to see how often the characters questioned the protocols drilled in to them since early childhood. Throughout For Darkness Shows the Stars, various characters questioned the degree to which the Luddites condemned those responsible for the reduction, and I got completely caught up in the philosophical and ethical implications of where to draw the line.
Elliot was a wonderful protagonist, and I was able to relate to her from the first few pages. Her desire to see the farm thrive, to thwart her father’s attempts to pretend they still had the means to live a life of luxury, and to treat the Reduced and Posts who worked the Estate with kindness and respect were all goals I wanted to see her achieve. Her struggles became my struggles, and I had to close the book out of pure frustration, several times, when she was thrown another unfair curve ball. Her letters to Kai described a history of friendship and love, and made me long for his return. Only, once he finally made his reappearance, I wanted him to go back to where he had come from!
He hurt her when he looked her way, and when he did not. He hurt her when he spoke to her with derision, and when he ignored her.
Kai was so cruel to Elliot, to a point where I just couldn’t understand what she could have possibly done to garner that much hate and resentment from one person. Everything that I had seen about her personality was selfless and giving – she sacrificed everything she wanted in order to try and make life better for those who depended on her. Who was this asshole to try and take that away from her?
The old poems said that lovers were made for each other. But that wasn’t true for Kai and Elliot. They hadn’t been made for each other at all – quite the opposite. But they’d grown together, the two of them, until they were like two trees from a single trunk, stronger together than either could have been alone.
And ever since he’d left, she’d been feeling his loss. He’d thrived without her, but Elliot – she’d just withered.
When Elliot finally had enough, when she realized that being silent so as not to offend or hurt those around them wasn’t working, she put Kai in his place in a moment so glorious I was cheering her on! Unfortunately, Kai wasn’t fazed and brought Elliot to a new low by trying to buy her off, which caused her to reevaluate their entire relationship.
He’d never cared for her at all. Perhaps he’d always only seen her as the rich girl in the big house, the one who could help him, who could give him things, who could protect him from punishment, who could get him out of trouble. Why shouldn’t it work the same in reverse, now that he was the rich one? He’d never loved her. Maybe he’d never even liked her.
I hated Kai for making Elliot doubt both their friendship and their love. I hated him for being able to be so cruel to someone he once claimed to love. And I hated him for doing everything in his power to make Elliot miserable.
Envy hurt exponentially more than heartbreak because your soul was torn in two, half soaring with happiness for another person, half mired in a well of self-pity and pain.
I originally considered docking a star, because of how angry Kai made me – I was literally shaking in anger during a couple of their more tense moments. But then I realized that Peterfreund is just an absolutely phenomenal author, and that she wrote For Darkness Shows the Stars in such a way as to garner this exact response from her readers. Would I have loved For Darkness Shows the Stars as much if I hadn’t hated it at one point? If I hadn’t felt such righteous indignation for a fictional character? I think, not.
The twist towards the end was one I was beginning to suspect, but which still took me by surprise when I realized the full implications. It was also the kind of twist that revealed only one piece of a much larger puzzle, so I was catapulted along as secret after secret was revealed in a shocking and horrific string of events. It also tied back to young Elliot and Kai’s questioning of the Luddite protocols in that it raised even more ethical and philosophical dilemmas, that I think I internally squealed over.
Like her family, so many of these Luddites had taken Post money and wore Post clothes. They drove Post suncarts and accepted Post hospitality. Was the hypocrisy of the Luddites so embedded that they didn’t mind who broke the protocols as long as there was money and amusement in it?
If you haven’t figured it out yet, I loved For Darkness Shows the Stars. From the every day struggles of the farm, to the limitations Elliot fought to work around to keep everyone fed, to the worldbuilding, to the plot twists, and to the romance that made my blood boil and my heart sing, I loved everything about For Darkness Shows the Stars, including the emotional journey it subjected me to.