cover image For Darkness Shows the Stars

For Darkness Shows the Stars

Diana Peterfreund. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $17.99 (416p) ISBN 978-0-06-200614-1

Dystopian, ideological, rebellious—Peterfreund’s fantasy homage to Austen’s Persuasion departs from the original in many respects, and with great success. Elliot North is a strong and creative woman, holding together the estate her father neglects and conducting secret agricultural experiments that defy “the protocols,” which were established after genetic tinkering nearly destroyed humanity. Antitechnology “Luddites” took sanctuary underground, emerging as overlords of the mentally diminished above-ground survivors. Those survivors, the “Reduced,” are now having normal children, and the Luddites’ status is no longer unquestioned. Four years earlier, Elliot refused to elope with Kai, a mechanical prodigy and descendant of the Reduced. Now he’s back as Capt. Malakai Wentforth, flirting with Elliot’s pretty neighbor and being savage to Elliott. Resemblance to Austen’s story lies largely in the superficialities of the plot—Peterfreund (Rampant) invokes less of Austen’s subtlety or social critique, and she really doesn’t need to. The story stands on its own, a richly envisioned portrait of a society in flux, a steely yet vulnerable heroine, and a young man who does some growing up. Ages 13–up. Agent: Deidre Knight, the Knight Agency. (June)