For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
For Darkness Shows the Stars was a pleasant surprise for me. I read the summary and thought it sounded interesting but I got more than I expected. Yes, this story is about the relationship that develops between the two main characters but it is also about prejudice and slavery and includes a sci-fi twist that includes genetic enhancements.
Elliot and Kai were born on the same day but in very different worlds. Elliot is the daughter of Baron North and a Luddite. Kai is the son of the mechanic on the North farm. He is also what some call a COR or Post. The Luddites believe The Reduction occurred when they challenged God and thought they could engineer certain things better. The structure of society on a Luddite farm is one where the Luddites were typically living a leisurely life and the Posts and the Reduced were those doing and/or managing the work.
In the case of the North farm, the difference is that Elliot was largely involved in the day to day workings of the farm. Her father, the Baron, was never raised to run the farm and is really only concerned about what he wants versus what is right for the farm and the Reduced/Posts that work and live there. This is what leads Elliot to experiment with wheat and attempt to make a better version that will help her sustain her farm – unfortunately her father makes the decision to plow it over to create a horse track. While Elliot is wondering what she will do to make ends meet, her father has received a letter from the Admiral of the Cloud Fleet proposing the rental of her grandfather’s shipyard and home. She latches on to this opportunity to help out the family financially and once the Cloud Fleet gets to the farm, we (along with Elliot) find out what happened to Kai.
I loved seeing the relationship/friendship develop between Elliot and Kai through their letters. It is clear Elliot questions everything not only because she wants to understand but also because her closest friends are a Post and a Reduced. As she continues to get older, it is clear she feels the weight of what it means to be responsible for those at the farm. Because of this, when Kai decides he is going to leave, she makes the decision to not go with him. When Kai returns as Malachai as one of the Captains of the Cloud Fleet, it is clear there was a miscommunication. Kai felt her letter was pointing out their differences in class and she was implying she was better than him when really she was trying to communicate that she couldn’t abandon the people she felt responsible for because she dreamed of something more.
The anger that Kai had toward Elliot in the beginning was tough to read, mostly because I was able to see how much it hurt her as well as how much she wished things were different for them. Once things start to become clear not only between Elliot and Kai but also what secrets they hide, the story starts to move along. Through a twist of fate, Elliot is given the Boatwright property when her grandfather dies and this is one of the catalysts that change everything for her. At the same time, Elliot and her sister Tatiana come to a sort of agreement that will allow Elliot the freedom to care for the farm and those who live there as she sees fit while Tatiana and their father are free to live in Channel City with no responsibility.
The characters are what made this story for me. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the story too but I think that if I didn’t get to know Kai and Elliot as well as I did through the letters they exchanged I might have been less invested in how this ended up. I also enjoyed the secondary characters as well. From Andromeda and Felicia to Dee and Ro, they all added to the overall story…even those I disliked (Baron North/Benedict).
I won’t give anything away but the ending was perfect and the final letter gets all the sighs from me.
Now I have to admit (and don’t judge me), I have never read Persuasion but I just might after reading this book. With that said, I don’t think you need to have read it to appreciate this book. I will be recommending this to anyone and everyone. I loved it and I think even those that don’t really appreciate the sci-fi aspect will enjoy this as it is about so much more.