“Before the Reduction, there were two kinds of people: people who trusted in God to make mankind in His own image, and people who thought they could do better than God. The first kind of people were my ancestors, the Luddites.”
When I first picked For Darkness Shows the Stars up, the only thing I knew about it was that it was based on Jane Austen’s Persuasion. That happens to be the only Austen novel I haven’t read, so I was curious.
Synopsis: This is is the story of Elliot North, a Luddite girl in a dystopian society. In this world, history is filled with tales of the Lost, people who tried to create new versions of plants and animals. The Lost also found ways to improve upon themselves – their own bodies and limitations. The Luddites refused these new innovations and experimentations, retreating into caverns and sanctuaries until the time of Reduction was over. The children born during this time were simple, lacking the ability to string too many words together and unable, in the Luddite opinion, to take care of themselves. These children were called the Reduced. The Luddites reemerged into society to care for the Reduced, bringing them onto their estates (that read like plantations) to work and live as servants. As the years went on, a third group of people emerged- the Children of the Reduction, or Post-Reductionists. These people were seemingly just like the Luddites – returned to a full and normal status. Some stayed with their Reduced parents, while others fled to Post Enclaves. Elliot and her family are estate landholders with many Post and Reduced living and working their lands.
This novel centers around Elliot and her relationship with an old, Post friend – Kai. Four years prior to the main storyline, Kai left the estate to try and build a better life for himself. Kai wanted Elliot to leave with him, but she didn’t. She stayed because let’s face it, she’s really in charge of the estate’s operations. Her father, Baron North, cares more for his own vanity than his family lands.
The timeline flips back and forth between letters from their past and chapters of their present, filling in blanks as the pages turn.
Feelings: I really enjoyed the world building and felt like Diana Peterfreund did an amazing job with this society. We are able to dig into their history and traditions, changes in their norms, and see glimpses of the future, all while deeply connecting to numerous characters.
Characters: The first few pages gripped me and I was hooked until the very end. Elliot is passionate and strong – a forceful female lead that YA lit needs more of. She speaks her mind and follows her convictions, yet she isn’t perfect. Lord knows I love me some faulted characters. She does what is unexpected for the good of those who rely on her.
I’m one of those annoying people who can almost always predict how something will end. This book, however, was filled with twists and turns that got me good. I’m still in shock over some of the little twisty moments, but I’m not angry about it. Some stories take a turn for dramatic effect and to strategically lead into a sequel. This story had natural dips and curves that were beautifully done.
This books is one of the best written stories I think I’ve ever read. I’d recommend it to everyone.
Pick this up if you liked:
Mythology, astronomy, caste system struggles, and love that makes you melt.
The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski (similar worlds and female leads)
Across the Universe by Beth Revis (they all tinker with food and affect reproduction; similar themes)
Goodreads rating: 3.92/5
Amazon.com rating: 4.3/5
My rating: 5/5
Happy reading! – Caitlyn