For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund
402 Pages (Hardcover)
Balzer + Bray
June 12, 2012
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.
I am a bit of a history nerd, so when I read the synopsis of this book and saw "Luddite" I was immediately enthralled. Historically, the Luddites were a group of workers during the English Industrial Revolution who would break into factories and destroy the machinery. They believed that the new technology would threaten their jobs, so they resisted it. The Luddites in this novel do not have the exact same motives, but they stem from the same ideals.
Luddites are at the top of the social hierarchy. Years ago when people started genetically modifying everything - including themselves- the Luddites resisted. Eventually the modifications took a toll and the new generations became Reduced, riddled with deformities. The Luddites were the only ones who were not effected by this sort of apocalypse, so they rose above. They run farms, directing the reduced like slaves, hoping to create enough food to last. Recently the Reduced's children have been born "COR"s (Children of the Reduced), or Posts as they like to be called, with none of the apparent reduced symptoms. Does this mean the world is starting over again?
Elliot North has always been involved in the running of her family's estate. After her mother dies prematurely, it was up to Elliot to keep everything running, although officially it should not be her job (as the second daughter, the estate is not even in her inheritance). Elliot grew up side by side with a Post child, Kai, who she grew to love. When Kai left unexpectedly, she was heart broken and kept waiting for him to reach out to her. Years later he returns, not as the boy she once loved, but rather Captain Malakai Wentforth, and he is determined to show Elliot just how little he thinks of her. The more time Elliot spends around Malakai and the other Post members of the Cloud Fleet the more Elliot questions her own Luddite upbringing and the future of the world. How many secrets can she learn until her whole world is shattered? Just how far is she willing to go to protect the ones underneath her? Even if it means loosing everything she has ever known?
I really enjoyed this one! In-between the chapters there would be letters written by Elliot and Kai as they grew up. It was a really interesting tool to let the reader learn about the world and to see how the two minds progressed. Elliot mentions how Kai was when she was little, but it is another thing entirely to actually read it for yourself. I also just love reading letters in general, so it was really great to see so many used in a way that really benefited the story.
Another thing that I loved is that the relationship between Elliot and Kai is not a sweeping romance. In fact, Kai - excuse me - Malaki is a real jerk to her. The romance lays in what they used to have together, not their current situation. This adds so much romantic tension I cannot even accurately describe it in words. Their relationship pissed me off, but then it would turn around make me extremely sad. I understood where both of them were coming from. I really liked how this relationship wasn't one where you could easily predict where it was going, it kept me guessing right up until the end.
Although Elliot spends a good portion of her time pining after the boy she lost, she is a strong character that I really enjoyed learning more about. She was born and raised Luddite, but she is constantly at odds with what she has grown up to believe. Is genetically modifying one strand of wheat really so terrible if it means that everyone on her farm will last past winter? Should the Reduced really spend most of their pregnancies cooped up in a birthing center that many of them do not live to walk out of? Aren't Posts the same as Luddites now? Does the existence of Posts mean God has forgiven the Reduced and the apocalypse is over? Elliot cannot accept what someone has told her just because they know the world to be a certain way. She has to see and learn things for herself, which I really appreciated.
Overall, For Darkness Shows the Stars is a great read. It is a touching and intriguing story of coming of age in a post-apoctalyptic world.