Sunday, October 14, 2012
Reinventing a Classic: For Darkness Shows the Stars
Balzar & Bray, 2012
I was 19 years old the first time I ever read Persuasion by Jane Austen, and this novel is a perfect example of the right book at the right time. While I love Pride & Prejudice, the story of Anne Elliot, a quiet girl who suffers silently because she tried to do the right thing and it resulted in her sacrificing her heart was one that I felt an instant connection to. This girl and I were kindred spirits, and it's a book that means a lot to me.
So when I heard there was a retelling coming out last spring, I was skeptical. However, I had no need to worry - it became very obvious to me early in For Darkness Shows the Stars that Peterfreund loves Persuasion just as much as I do.
Elliot North is a second daughter of a proud, horrible Baron, making her a Luddite, the upper class which rules ever since a genetic experiment gone wrong led to the Reduction. Luddite's reject technology and "playing God" and are to care for the lower classes who suffered. But for Elliot, the lines between right and wrong became severely blurred after her mother died and the boy she loved from a lower class, Kai, ran away. He wanted her to come with, but she chose to stay behind and care for the people who counted on her. Now, four years later, hard financial times have pushed Elliot to renting one of her family's estates to the Cloud Fleet, a group of shipbuilders which includes the man who now goes by Captain Malakai Wentforth. She still loves him, he seems to detest her, and again circumstances arise forcing her to choose once again between what she was raised to believe or to put her trust in the only boy she's ever loved, even if she's lost him forever.
This book just does so many things right in my opinion. Elliot is a strong girl who struggles with her choices - everything about her world has become shades of gray. She cares deeply about the people on her family's estate, and they generally care very much for her as well, knowing that she's doing everything she can to keep them safe from her father. The writing is rich enough to give vision of this world, yet never burdensome in its attention to detail. I loved the sci-fi twist on how the class system is not just a matter of titles, but also genetics and science. Without giving away any spoilers, I'll simply say that I was so completely satisfied with this adaptation. While I would have liked a bit more towards for the end from Elliot and how she was able to overcome her stance on one particular but very important issue, I still loved this book and it is a beautiful homage to Austen's original.
If you are a Jane Austen fan who embraces adaptations as well as the originals, then For Darkness Shows the Stars is a must read.
Comments welcome, and, as always, happy reading.
Diana Peterfreund's Website