Monday, May 28, 2012

Review: For Darkness Shows the Stars

FOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS
Diana Peterfreund
Young Adult/Dystopian-ish
398 pages
Balzer + Bray
Available June 12th
Received from publisher for review

THE STORY(from Goodreads)
Generations ago, a genetic experiment gone wrong—the Reduction—decimated humanity, 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.


MY THOUGHTS
Compelling and poignant, For Darkness Shows the Stars is an intimate portrayal of a relationship tested to its very extremes–a war between belief, knowledge, desire, prejudice and need waged as Elliot and Kai are brought face to face after a separation that changed them both irrevocably. Interspersed between present events are letters exchanged between Kai and Elliot’s younger selves; the tender moments shared with us they compare thoughts and question the belief system they’ve been taught providing us a beautiful familiarity with both protagonists before we’re returned to the time where they are practically strangers, the openness and honesty expressed in those brief missives gone in the blink of an eye. Elliot and Kai’s story is a painful one–quiet and at times cruel–the intensity of it stemming not from grand, sweeping conflict, but rather from fleeting moments filled with tension and overflowing with such possibility that our hearts swell to the point of aching as we wonder whether that stunning potential, hidden deeply behind caustic words and deliberate callousness, will ever be reached.

Elliot is a young woman of unmatched strength, making choices for the North Estate and its inhabitants no one her age should have to make, and sacrificing the only person she’s ever been able to be her true self with for the good of those under her care. When we meet her, we know she let Kai go to ensure those who work on the estate would have a buffer between them and her father’s fluctuating iron fist and cool selfish negligence, choosing to stay behind in body while her heart fled with Kai. She handles Kai’s repeated verbal jabs with a grace befitting someone far older and world-weary, taking his hurt and absorbing into herself as punishment for what he views as a betrayal all those years ago, and never once allowing him to see just how deep his words cut. While she never speaks outright in her defense, she also doesn’t cower from the force of his hatred, and we can’t help but read with our backs held ramrod straight, hoping to lend her some of our strength even though she doesn’t appear to need it.

Kai is an intriguingly complex character, someone it would be easy to dislike instantaneously when faced with his uncaring treatment of someone who loved him four years ago–and loves him still–were it not for the letters written to Elliot as they grew up together. Not fully understanding why being a Post made him less of a person, we can feel his confusion as he tried to sort out the ways of his world with Elliot when he was younger, and we long for a glimpse of that sweet boy in the dauntless Fleet Captain who takes advantage of every opportunity to hurt Elliot. Still, it’s clear to us his actions are those of a man in pain, lashing out when faced with the one person who threatens to render his impeccably-made armor useless, and the pounding of our hearts echoes loudly in our ears every time he finds himself alone with her as we wait for him to see past his anger and to the truth of his history with Elliot. The truth being he asked of her the only thing that was not hers to give: the lives of everyone on the North Estate who would have suffered or perished had she abandoned them to run with Kai.

Those readers who love their dystopian reads to have a thoroughly well-developed world haunting in its dark grittiness may find themselves a touch disappointed in this tale, the history of the Posts and the Reduced just brief enough for us to understand the terminology but lacking in copious amounts of detail. Instead, we’re given a thorough look at a tiny piece of this world, the development of the characters given extra attention and their personalities crafted so intricately that the world outside the two of them almost becomes irrelevant in the face of the stunningly tragic romance laid before us. Our hearts bleed, scream, and beg for mercy before we reach the final pages, and we can’t help but revel in a story so emotionally charged.

Rating: 4.5/5

34 comments:

  1. Wow! As you probably know, I am not a dystopia fan. or a sci fi fan. But Peterfreund's book sounds so marvelously complex that I really want to read it.

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  2. I started this today and understanding the reduced and the posts was confusing at first but now that I understand it all I think I will enjoy the story more. I just hope I'm not TOO annoyed with Kai which is really my biggest concern. Since you liked it so much I'm not as worried though.

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  3. Alright...I'm sold. It looks like I'm going to have to check this one out. I'm especially interested in checking out that well-developed world you mentioned!

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  4. Alison - I know you're not, but I think you'll really like this one. It's much more about the characters than the world and I really enjoyed it:)

    Candace - I was really confused at first as well, but once I got it sorted, I fell in love with the story:) Kai definitely tested the limits of my patience, but he clearly thought she'd betrayed him so I could at least understand where he was coming from.

    Natalie - Yay! Hope you give it a try. It was one of those slow stories that just kind of drew me and before I knew it, I was all caught up in the tension. There's lots of tension:)

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  5. Thanks so much for the review, Jenny! I have For Darkness Shows The Stars on my review pile and it's very encouraging to hear that you really enjoyed reading this book. It sounds like Kai and Elliot really have a complicated relationship filled with both pain and love, but I look forward to seeing it explored more in the book.

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  6. I've been waiting for this one since I saw the cover ages ago! I have never read anything by her and I'm hoping I enjoy it as much as you. Do you know if it's a series or is it a stand alone. I don't think you said.
    It was such a beautiful review I was trying not to miss anything!

    Heather

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  7. It sounds like this is very character driven, but for a good set of characters I am willing to forgive any lack of world-building. Amazing review, Jenny! I haven't read many reviews for this book but yours has convinced me I need to get this in my hands as soon as its released. :)

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  8. So many of my friends literally came out and said, "Mimi, READ this book!" but yours is one of the first full reviews I've seen and I feel like it's saying the same thing! x) It sounds like the romance -- and Kai -- is complicated, but Elliot sounds like a strong character who can hold her own, and I don't think I'd mind too mush. After all, the complicated romances (as well as the heart-wrenching stories) are always the most gripping to read! :)

    Beautiful review, Jenny! <3

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  9. I've been dying to read this! You're review isn't helping with my patience any!

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  10. Ohh wow!!! such a high rating!!! It sounds sooo beautiful and I'm sure I won't be disappointed by the lack of proper explanations of the dystopian world. I loved Under The Never Sky where there was also not too much explanation, you just have to go and explore the world by yourself. I kind of like this.

    This one truly looks awesome and it's totally in my wish list!

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  11. DANG!!! I want my heart to bleed, scream and beg!! This sounds like its an amazing read! This year has been so awesome for bleed scream beg emotions!!!!

    :D

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  12. Our hearts bleed, scream, and beg for mercy before we reach the final pages, and we can’t help but revel in a story so emotionally charged. Gahh Jenny you are killing me here! I only discovered this book last week because of the gorgeous cover, but now that you've written this fantastic review I can't wait to read it! :)

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  13. Liz - Oh good, I can't wait for your thoughts! They definitely had a complicated relationship, but it didn't feel angsty to me because Elliot handled his ire so well.

    Heather - This is my first book by her as well and I definitely want to go back and read the others. Killer Unicorns? Win. I *think* this is a standalone, I haven't seen any mention of a sequel but I could be wrong.

    Sam - I'm a character girl, so while I was definitely confused for a few chapters in the beginning with the Post/Reduced situation, it really took of for me when Kai came back.

    Mimi - I HIGHLY recommend this one - it was painful to read at times, but like you said, those always are the most gripping. I couldn't put it down:)

    Tara - Sorry! Only a couple more weeks though:) I hope you love it!

    Danny - I know, this one caught be by surprise. I didn't expect it to be quite as emotionally intense as it was, and I love stories like that.

    Tina - ME TOO1 It's probably a little messed up, but I love the stories that rip my heart out:)

    Jasprit - YAY!!! I always get nervous when I highly recommend a book though, I hope everyone loves it as much as I did:)

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  14. I've been drooling over the cover for this book for a while now! Glad to see it's such a good read. It sounds intense!

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  15. Your review packs so much emotion in it that I don't know how I could handle a book of it...BUT it sounds so good and intriguing that I may have to anyway.

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  16. Christy - It was intense, I loved it:)

    Amanda - It was a hard read at times - I so badly wanted them to be happy and it just never seemed like they were going to be able to bridge the gap. So good:)

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  17. Hmm well you know me, I am always whining about lack of defail in dystopian settings. Yet, it seems that might be a good trade off for compelling characters and an emotionally charged deep story. I am definitely curious about this one and a 4.5 rating is high from you, Jenny!

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  18. Dang. This one sounds really, really good. I had this as a Waiting On a while back and I'm still looking forward to it! Great review--I want to get to know those two characters.

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  19. *jumps up and down*
    Persuasion!! That was all from me

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  20. Wow! This book sounds like it has wonderful characters that are separated by fate. Excellent review describe what you liked!
    New follower :)

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  21. Heidi - Aside from some confusion in the beginning, I didn't mind that I wasn't clear on how the world came to be the way it was, I just cared what happened to Elliot and Kai:)

    Mary - I hope you love them as much as I did! I wanted to reach in and just shove them both together and be all LOVE EACH OTHER DAMMIT!

    Linda - :)

    Rachel - They are fabulous characters, I couldn't get enough of them! And thanks for the follow:)

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  22. Dude, I so loved this book! AHHH! I want to read it again. Loved the review Jenny. This book totally took me away.

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  23. Jenny, I don't like stories that are too dystopian-y so I wasn't too interested this one. You've convinced me to change my mind since this sounds more like an emotional story with fantastic characters that just happens to be set in a dystopian setting.

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  24. WOW, this one just sounds awesome. I'm a bit tired of the "Hunger Games" derivative dystopians out there right now and I like how this one avoids this, giving the reader a new, fresh story. Definitely going to check this one out. Thanks for an awesome review, Jenny!

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  25. This book had me curious since i first laid eyes on that cover on Goodreads. You wrote a brilliant review. Think i'll pine for it now.

    ~Shane @Itchingforbooks
    new follower

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  26. Oh I can't WAIT!! I love Diana's writing and characters, so I'm super excited for this one.

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  27. Ok your review intrigued me like nothing else, and that's coming from someone who wants to buy this book the moment it's released. WOW! It sounds flipping amazing!! Kai and Elliot sound like unusual characters to YA lit, but that's what I love. I'm so excited to get lost in this world! Thanks for this awesome review!

    Sierra @ Yearning to Read
    www.yearningtoread.blogspot.com

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  28. Huh. Well, I'd pretty much written this book off as being one that wouldn't appeal to me, but now I'm kind of reconsidering. I should have known better. Persuasion is my favorite Austen novel. I think I read somewhere that "the letter" wasn't really as moving as it was in JA's version, but I guess you can't expect everything to be the same.

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  29. OH I WANT! Me want this one so much! I don't mind a bit of elusiveness in my world as long as the characters sing true. Sounds like it is such in this case so you have me drooling for it! WANT!

    Did I mention that I want to read this one? :)

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  30. This book sounds a lot deeper and more emotional than I thought it'd be. I have this book on my shelf, and I really need to read it soon. I think your review has convinced me to bump this book up on my to-read list! The complexity of the characters sounds amazing, and Elliot sounds like exactly the kind of protagonist I'd love. Beautifully written review, Jenny! <3

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  31. I really like when the dystopian worlds are really well-developed. Hmmmm...not sure on this one. Sounds good though!

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  32. Agreed! I loved this one too. Especially Elliot with all her strength. She is possibly one of the most mature and selfless characters I have ever had the pleasure of reading about. My heart just ached for her and all that she sacrificed and went through. I am so impressed with Diana Peterfreund's writing and am eager to read something else of hers!

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  33. Gorgeous review! I think you've captured the emotion in it so clearly. I especially loved this phrase: "we can’t help but read with our backs held ramrod straight, hoping to lend her some of our strength even though she doesn’t appear to need it." How true! You've written something lovely here, about an amazing book. Bravo!

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  34. Aww, Jenny your review is AWESOME! I'm sad because I didn't love it...at all. I really, really, really wanted to and I wanted to feel the same way about it as you did but man, I just couldn't do it! But again, amazing review! I'll be linking to it on my review!

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