Series: For Darkness Shows the Stars # 2
Published by Balzer + Bray on October 15, 2013
Genres: Post-Apocalyptic, Science Fiction
Centuries after wars nearly destroyed civilization, the two islands of New Pacifica stand alone, a terraformed paradise where even the Reduction—the devastating brain disorder that sparked the wars—is a distant memory. Yet on the isle of Galatea, an uprising against the ruling aristocrats has turned deadly. The revolutionaries’ weapon is a drug that damages their enemies’ brains, and the only hope is rescue by a mysterious spy known as the Wild Poppy.
On the neighboring island of Albion, no one suspects that the Wild Poppy is actually famously frivolous aristocrat Persis Blake. The teenager uses her shallow, socialite trappings to hide her true purpose: her gossipy flutternotes are encrypted plans, her pampered sea mink is genetically engineered for spying, and her well-publicized new romance with handsome Galatean medic Justen Helo… is her most dangerous mission ever.
Though Persis is falling for Justen, she can’t risk showing him her true self, especially once she learns he’s hiding far more than simply his disenchantment with his country’s revolution and his undeniable attraction to the silly socialite he’s pretending to love. His darkest secret could plunge both islands into a new dark age, and Persis realizes that when it comes to Justen Helo, she’s not only risking her heart, she’s risking the world she’s sworn to protect.
In this thrilling adventure inspired by The Scarlet Pimpernel, Diana Peterfreund creates an exquisitely rendered world where nothing is as it seems and two teens with very different pasts fight for a future only they dare to imagine.
I have not yet read For Darkness Shows the Stars, the first book in this series, but since Across a Star-Swept Sea was described as a companion novel rather than a sequel, I decided to dive in. Perhaps this resulted in some details that I didn’t fully appreciate, but I never felt lost. A big factor in this was that there was a great deal of repetition, particularly around the genetic engineering elements of the plot. Although I didn’t love this story, I still want to read the first book to see if and how it fleshes out more of the back-story of how this world came to be.
The author created a post-apocalyptic world that seemed more like a fantasy setting. After a series of wars destroyed most of the planet, only a small amount of habitable land exists. Two remaining countries are struggling to exist in peace as the “Regs” of society begin to rebel against the ruling aristocracy. Lady Persis Blake of Albion, in disguise as her Wild Poppy persona, is helping to stir up tensions as she conducts raids on Galatea to rescue the endangered aristocrats.
When Justen Helo, a medic from Galatea, arrives in Albion, Persis is not sure if he can be trusted. Justen claims to want to aid the aristocracy, but his involvement with the brain-damaging genetic engineering makes Persis question his true motives. Likewise, Persis’s motivations remain a mystery from Justen, as he has no idea that she is the Wild Poppy who has been raiding his country.
It’s a given that these two will get together, but the reasons for their attraction to each other is never made clear. Justen is enthralled by Persis’s…hair, and she is intrigued by his famous family name. For most of the book, that’s all we have to go on. They were likable as individuals (Justen, in particular), but a total dud as a couple. I was much more interested in the characters who made an appearance late in the story, as I knew that they had to be the main characters from For Darkness Shows the Stars. My interest perked up while they were on the scene, and I’m looking forward to seeing the details of what brought them to Albion.