Google+ Bookslingers Blog: Space Swoons

Space Swoons

Every reader in their reading career must choose their side in the epic, timeless battle of Which Austen Hottie is the Hottest of All The Tight-Pants Hunks.
My dog has exactly the same expression when I bathe her
Mr. Darcy has a special place in my heart. He was the first exposure (heh) that I had to Jane Austen's work and Colin Firth is perfection in a frilly shirt. But as I read more Austen, I decided to pick up the banner of another.

Mr. Darcy is swoony. And he has a huuuuuuge tract of land. But he is also rude. Frightfully, insultingly rude. What would your dinner conversations be like?

MR DARCY: ....
LADY CORENE: So, do anything interesting today, honey?
MR DARCY: .... No.
LADY CORENE: Any plans for the weekend. Shall we attend a ball?
MR DARCY: I hate balls.
LADY CORENE: Heh. No kidding! Am I right? Cause you're a hetero... Nah, nah, nah, nah. Sexual. Nah, nah, nah, nah. Hetero, sexual MAAAAAN! HAHAHAH. Balls....
LADY CORENE: ... I am gonna go see if Mr. Bingley's up for some polygamy.

Mr. Knightley is too fatherly and too good. Henry Tilney is delightfully well-informed about muslin but the in-laws are a deal breaker. Edmund Bertram is the wettest blanket in the ocean where an transport blanket ship has sunk to the bottom of the ocean and spilled its cargo in the watery depths.

But let's talk about Captain Wentworth.

I'm just gonna leave this right here for you. Take your time
Persuasion is my favourite Austen novel (So melancholy! So heartbreaking!) and Captain Wentworth is the hottest hottie to wear a Batman-like-neck-constricting cravat. Sure, he's kind of an intolerable dick for 80% of the novel but he is still the most intriguing. And why? BECAUSE HE HAS A JOB.

So I was pretty excited to read Diana Peterfreud's For Darkness Shows the Stars: a YA sci-fi, post-apocalyptic retelling of Persuasion. 
Poor dear forgot to take her opaque pills this morning
The story takes place in a land devastated by the Reduction. When genetic experimentation and dangerous technology threatened, the Luddites went underground into caves. When they emerged, the world they knew was gone. All that was left of the world were two small islands filled with people suffering the aftereffects of bombing and genetic manipulations gone wrong.

The Luddites set themselves up as the masters of this new world. At the bottom of this society are the "Reduced" who suffer from infirmities - but not so much that they cannot be the slaves of the Luddites. But there are new children born from the Reduced which do not suffer their afflictions - and Kai is one of them. He is Elliot's secret friend throughout her life. He challenges her and forces her to realize the truth behind the seemingly benevolent rule of the Luddites. But when he asks her to runaway with her, she stays.

Four years later, Elliot is trying to keep her family farm together. Her father and sister are doing their best to destroy crops and drive away their workforce. So when the mysterious Cloud Fleet, explorers who have discovered extraordinary inventions and creatures on far-away islands, asks to rent her grandfather's shipyard, Elliot jumps at the chance.

But one of the Cloud Fleet engineers is very familiar to Elliot. Kai has returned with a new name and a new future. But they both have secrets that could destroy both of them. Can she take a chance on an old love? Will he ever forgive her?

This is not a book for everyone. It is quieter, slower and gentler than what many modern readers might be used to. I think that Peterfreud captures the melancholy of Persuasion. It is a difficult book to transition into a YA novel. Persuasion is about the folly and mistakes of youth. Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth loved each other as teenagers, almost children. But now they are adults and have lived their separate lives. The novel asks whether this love can endure. I know that when you're a teenager, every day seems like yeeeears but the fundamental question of the novel changes when the characters are de-aged.

For Darkness Show the Stars is more focused on whether two people from different backgrounds, different worlds can ever find a place to love each other. If relationship that are build on unequal footing, relationships where the power is unbalanced (Elliot's family owns Kai and his father) can ever be true.

I don't know that For Darkness Shows the Stars really answers it but the question did stick with me for weeks after reading.

One of the main appeals of the story for me was the world building. Peterfreud has transformed the deeply stratified world of Regency England into a grim post-apocalyptic society that was reminiscent of the Antebellum South. Elliot's world is all about power, about the disparate world of the oppressed and the oppressors. It reminded me of a sci-fi J. Anderson Coats' The Wicked and the Just (great read).

Half the fun as a Persuasion fan was seeing how Peterfreud translated the events and characters into her world. Elliot North was just as sympathetic and kind as Anne Elliot. The Baron was even more terrifying (though not as terrifying as when he was played by Anthony Stewart Head).

They have just finished reading "A Modest Proposal" and are sizing up their options at the Baby Auction
The romance is very swoony and there is a LETTER. The few gripes I have (the ending being a touch rushed) are well put away with how enjoyable this book was. It may lack Austen's satirical touch (the world is very, very grim) but it is a perfect read for Austen fans.