Saturday, November 10, 2012

For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund and Persuasion by Jane Austen

I have finally completed my two books for the Classic Double Challenge! I finished Persuasion a couple of months ago and I finally found time to read For Darkness Shows the Stars. I have avoided looking at other post on the same books, so now I am interested in seeing what other people thought and if we had similar ideas.

For Darkness Shows the Stars is about the relationship between Kai and Elliot and a world that has been destroyed by technology and human experimentation. Elliot is the youngest daughter of a Luddite lord, Baron North. Elliot's older sister Tatiana and her father do not seem to care at all for Elliot. Elliot is the one who has to run the estate and protect the Posts and Reduced. The Luddites are the people who did not engage in genetic manipulation and their genes are "pure." The Reduced and Posts are people whose ancestors attempted to make themselves better by using a procedure called ERV. Most of the children born from those who manipulated their genes are Reduced, meaning they cannot really think or act for themselves sort of like being a two year old in an adult body. Things however are changing and some babies are being born normal and maybe even a little more enhanced. These children are called Posts and Kai is one of them. Many generations before Kai and Elliot the world was torn apart by the genetically modified when they realized their children would be Reduced rather than greatly enhanced. The Luddites hid with their children and the Reduced and survived this destruction, but most of the world did not, so at the beginning of the story, we learn our story takes place on an island and the people know little of the world outside their island.

As children Kai, Elliot, and a Reduced girl named Ro played together and even questioned some of the rules governing the world. The Posts and Reduced are tied to their Luddite lords who feel it is their duty to protect them. Kai wants to leave and make something of himself. He wants to see the world and so does Elliot. Elliot promises to leave with him, but her mother dies. She knows her father is a cruel man and her sister has no interest in the farm, so she stays to protect the Posts and Reduced. Kai leaves and for four years she misses him.

After four years, the Cloud Fleet asks to use Elliot's grandfather's shipyard to build a boat that will allow them to travel farther in the world. The North farm desperately needs money, because her father lives outside his means. When the Cloud Fleet arrives, Elliot immediately recognizes Kai, who is now Captain Malakai Wentworth. He is very cold to Elliot and verbally attacks her every chance he gets. Elliot in the meantime tries to get over Kai, while being dragged to the Post Cloud Fleet events by another group of Luddites, Olivia and Horatio Grove. Olivia and Kai appear to be falling for each other which hurts Elliot even more. While being around the Cloud Fleet, Elliot discovers dangerous secrets while hiding one of her own, and she must choose between love and lying or loyalty to her Luddite society. Can two people torn by the past ever reconcile and is love stronger than tradition?

Comparison of the two is actually pretty easy. Diana Peterfreund wanted to take the love story of Persuasion and apply it to a post apocalyptic society. Elliot is Anne and of course Kai is Captain Wentworth as they share the same name. Not all the characters can match up as easily, but many of them can be compared to characters in Persuasion. Peterfreund also uses them same type of society, the Luddites are like the rich estate owners who have long been peers of the realm. The Cloud Fleet Posts are the newly rich who do not have the pedigree of the Luddites. While in Persuasion, a marriage between the old wealthy and newly rich would be a little scandalous, in For Darkness shows the stars, it would be an outrage. This is due both to the history of genetic testing and the prejudice in society.

Also both writers made their heroine the best person in the story. Their values, morals, and sacrifices made most of the other characters seem shallow and selfish, which for the most part they are. Anne and Elliot have no comparison in the category of goodness, although this is less seen in Peterfreund's story.

For me, when someone writes a story based on another story, it is feelings and thoughts the story invokes that proves if it is a good retelling or not. When reading both Persuasion and For Darkness Shows the Stars, I felt breathless and I know I gasped out loud a few times. You can feel the tension in the story through the author's word choices and phrases and you wonder all the way up to the last page how the story will end. Persuasion is one of the Jane Austen books that I have not watched as a movie or mini-series, so I had no idea if it would be a happy ending or not. I won't give the ending away, but through out both books you feel the suspense and tension that this might not end very happily for Anne and Elliot.

The writing style was very similar too. In both stories I felt transported into a different time and even a somewhat different belief system. Both stories are very believable and you feel like you are part of the society and judging the characters too.

I did not want either of these two books to end and I am so glad I chose Persuasion and in turn chose For Darkness Shows the Stars. These are two of the best stories I have read this year. I actually tried to drag out reading both books as long as I could, because I just loved the feeling I had reading them and I loved the characters.

Favorite Characters: Anne and Elliot of course. They are both noble and loyal to those they care about. They are a little too self-sacrificing at times, but you can't help but admire them both.

Favorite Quote: Since Peterfreund used some of my favorite ones from Persuasion in the book, I will just use a quote from For Darkness Shows the Stars. It is actually similar to one in Persuasion.

"Once she'd thought there were no two people in the world who had more to talk about. They could say anything to each other-they had-and their affection had only grown stronger. But it had all come to nothing." I think this quote is so heart-breaking and expresses perfectly the feeling when love breaks apart.

Rating for both books: 5 cups of cocoa for sure!!

I can't wait to try this challenge again next year and actually get an earlier start on it! Hopefully I can read a few more classics next year and books with classic twists. I love fairy tale retellings, so I may read the original fairy tales and do a challenge with those. Thanks to Melissa at One Librarian's Book Reviews for hosting this challenge!

1 comment:

  1. Yeah! What a fun review/comparison! I loved how the two books were so similar and yet had such interesting differences. And that quote squeezes my heart every time. Thanks for joining up!