Sunday, December 30, 2012

For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

I've read and reviewed quite a few Diana Peterfreund books on this blog: Rampant and Ascendant, her killer unicorn books, plus her Secret Society Girl series, and Morning Glory, a novelization of the recent movie.  She is one of my favorite authors, so I was excited when I realized she had a new book out: For Darkness Shows the Stars, a dystopian, post-apocalyptic YA novel.

In Elliot's world, there are Luddites -- landowners, the equivalent of the plantation owners of the American South -- and the Reduced, a race of people who, according to legend, have had their intelligence taken away as punishment for their ancestors' genetic tinkering.  The Luddites, believing that they have been spared for refusing the genetic tinkering, have therefore outlawed all technology except for what already exists.  They also believe themselves to be the protectors of the Reduced, which evidently (to them) means keeping the Reduced in a condition that is remarkably similar to slavery.

This is not all evident at first, though.  Like many classic science fiction books, you start the novel not understanding the world Elliot lives in, and information about it is fed to you slowly throughout the course of the narrative.

Elliot has been taught to fear technology like a good Luddite, but secretly she is anything but a good Luddite.  Not only is she experimenting with creating a new, higher yield wheat crop to save her family's farm, she also secretly loves a Post-Reductionist.  Kai left her family's farm four years ago, but now he's back, challenging the tenuous peace Elliot has struggled to create with her father's Posts.

The author's note at the end of the book says that the story is inspired by Jane Austen, but I didn't realize that in reading it -- and I'm still not sure which Austen novel (if there is a specific one) this is supposed to be like.  It's a great novel all on its own, though!

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