Sunday, March 9, 2014

Review: Across a Star-Swept Sea

Across a Star-Swept Sea (For Darkness Shows the Stars, #2)Title: Across a Star-Swept Sea
Author: Diana Peterfreund
Series: For Darkness Shows the Stars
Volume: 2 (companion novel)
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopia, Romance, Retellings (The Scarlet Pimpernel)
Release Date: October 15, 2013

A Quick Introduction: Across a Star-Swept Sea is a companion to For Darkness Shows the Stars, and introduces a new heroine: Persis. Persis is living on the island of Albion, New Pacifica, which stands alone in the world, a on the surface it is a paradise where even the Reduction has receded into memory. But a there is revolution against the aristocracy on the neighbouring island of Galatea, and the revolutionaries are using a drug that damages the brains of their enemies. The only hope for those captured is rescue by the Wild Poppy. Nobody would ever suspect shallow, frivolous teenage aristocrat Persis Blake of being capable of anything more difficult than matching dresses and shoes, much less clandestinely undertaking rescue missions on the other island. But Persis is the Wild Poppy, and her flaky exterior is calculated, her gossip is secret messages and her pet a genetically engineered weapon. Even her highly publicized relationship with Galatean medic Justen Helo, who has more than enough secrets of his own.

Persis knows she plays a dangerous game; if anyone outside of her trusted friends were to find out about her double identity- that she isn't the silly, empty-headed part that she plays, she would become a target. That, if she can't play this fake romance to perfection, there will be consequences- neither can she allow it to become anything more than fake. Especially as secrets come to light and the stakes mount.

Out of Ten: 8/10

Review at a Glance: An enjoyable, adventurous and character-driven companion to For Darkness Shows the Stars.

Review: I really enjoyed this book, though not quite as much as For Darkness Shows the Stars. Persis is a very different heroine than Elliot. Elliot is much quieter, and her version of hard work is very different, though Persis is not stranger to labour. Persis uses her looks as just another weapon in her arsenal- as her mask. While she projects an empty-headed facade within the aristocratic society she was born to, she also fights against a corrupt revolutionary government on the neighbouring island. While the Reduction has been cured on the island, the revolutionaries on Galatea are now using a new drug to destroy the minds of those who oppose them, a drug that is said to imitate the Reduction, but in reality is more brutal. She's a  practiced actor, as well as being intelligent, and usually plays her part well- she does find herself slipping up on occasion, especially when Justen pushes her, but manages to cover for herself. As the Wild Poppy, she risks herself on missions to save the targets of the revolution- those that the revolutionaries have slated for "Reduction". And as herself she deals with the uncertainty of her own future, and the possibility that she may have inherited a debilitating disorder from her mother, a form of dementia that is a side effect to the cure for Reduction.

Now, in addition to her vigilante role as the Wild Poppy, she is faking a relationship with Justen Helo, and trying not to allow herself to become emotionally entangled with a boy she knows she can't trust. As their relationship went, they were excellent foils to each other, even when Persis was doing her best to act empty-headed, she still challenges him and the way he thinks. I think it was harder for her to play that role around him than she usually does, because it bothers her that someone who is so much an intellectual equal thinks she's a shallow socialite, especially when she wants him to appreciate her for herself.

New Pacifica, where Across a Star-Swept Sea is set, is in the area of what is now New Zealand (both books are set in that area, I believe), and I found it to be an enjoyable setting. However, there were some aspects of the setting that were slightly difficult to understand- namely the flutternotes, and how the palmports work. I got the general idea, but I would have liked more background as to what they look like and how they work. It was a just a touch of background information that I would have liked. I enjoyed the location, and would have liked to hear more about it. As a side note, the heroine of the story is a person of colour, presumably descended from the native people from New Zealand, the Maori. The author has mentioned that Elliot's grandfather was also, at least in part, Maori.

As for the plot, I enjoyed it. I found aspects of it to be quite simple, with a main focus on on Persis as a character. A great deal is coming to a head, so to speak. There is a revolution on the neighbouring island, where the descendants of the Reduced, the regs, are attacking the aristocracy, and the young princess regnant of Persis's own island, Isla, is facing a similar threat. Persis's faux romance with Jacen is a way of attempting to diffuse the tensions between her people, the aristocracy and his, the regs. Isla is one of the few people who knows of Persis's double identity, and aids her in her rescue missions, as the revolutionaries on Galatea grow more and more extreme. As Isla and Persis are close, the struggles of the princess, both against the fear of a revolution and with the council are clear to the reader, introducing an element of political drama to the action of the Wild Poppy story line and the romantic and personal elements.

To round off this long review, there are cameos, and I really liked seeing what some of the characters from the first book were up to.

Overall, I enjoyed this as a companion to For Darkness Shows the Stars, and I would have liked to read more set in this world, though as far as I am aware there aren't plans for another book.

My review for For Darkness Shows the Stars can be found here.

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