Series: For Darkness Shows the Stars #2
Published by Balzar + Bray on October 15, 2013
Genres: Science Fiction, YA
Source: ARC borrowed thru Around the World ARC Tours
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.
~ Originally I had had planned to read For Darkness Shows the Stars first, but this book arrived before I could do that. I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t understand what was going on, but Across a Star-Swept Sea is more of a companion novel, so I was not lost.
~ But this is a complex world Peterfreund has created, so you do have to pay attention to the details in the beginning. I was very impressed by the author’s world building, and I felt that I learned things naturally and was very grateful that there wasn’t a huge information dump in the beginning.
~ I met Peterfreund recently at a book signing for Jessica Spotswood and got to chat with her and some other local bloggers. I was very impressed with her but in all honesty that usually makes me scared to read an author’s book, because I’m afraid that I won’t like their books as much as I like them. No need to worry here, her writing very much lived up to and exceeded my expectations.
~ Across a Star-Swept Sea is loosely based on the classic The Scarlet Pimpernel. Our main character and heroine is Persis, and she uses the identity of the “Wild Poppy” to free enslaved Reduced. The Reduced that she frees are mainly aristocrats and their supporters who have been purposely given a drug that takes away their minds. It’s kind of horrific. I work with Alzheimer and dementia patients and it’s awful to think that basically being Reduced is the result of someone choosing to make you lose everything that makes you who you are. *shudder*
~ And no, I haven’t read The Scarlet Pimpernel, unless you count reading the Wikipedia entry on it. I think you should. 😉
~ It was love as first chapter, as Persis uses tricks and wiles to save a family of Reduced, which just make me think of forced lobotomies and that makes me sad. It also makes me want to kick some ass along side Persis…
~ … Which brings me to the fact that there are so many strong, capable, kick-ass women in this book! Persis is able to hide her alter identity behind a mask of being a simple, silly fashion plate. Because she’s beautiful, people just accept this, even though up until recently she’d been one of the top students at school. It would be more annoying if it weren’t for the fact that it keeps Persis safe, and I kind of enjoyed her public persona.
~ So, Persis is from Albion, and is best friends with Princess Isla, who is also kick-ass but unfortunately unable to rule because of the sexist counsel. As the Wild Poppy, Persis rescues the Reduced from Galatea, which is in the middle of a revolution.
~ Galatea had a good reason for rising up against their queen, but sometimes we trade one devil for another because power is one of the most dangerous drugs in the world.
~ A certain deposed ruler was actually fed to her own mini-orcas. Which is terrifying, right? But also kind of makes you want a mini-orca. Or not, since they kind of ate their last owner.
~ While this book is many things, it also has romance. The romance feels natural, but the set up for Justen and Persis (that they have to pretend to be romantically involved so that Justen can stay in Galatea) is very Bodice-Ripping Romance plot, and I loved it.
~ I actually had to Google the word ‘frangipani’ just so I could envision the color of Persis’ hair.
~ Just like Persis, I admire that Justen isn’t just content to live on his family name fame, instead he’s trying desperately to fix the one mistake his genius, scientific grandmother’s cure left behind.
~ Justen, while fully admitting that Persis is gorgeous, is not falling all over himself to romance her. He can’t stand how shallow he thinks she is. I like that her beauty wasn’t enough to win him over.
~ One of the most heartbreaking things about this novel (other than the Reduced) is the rift between Vania and Justen. It really reminded me of The Sound of Music when Liesl realizes that Rolf has become just another brainwashed Nazi. Only Justen is the Liesl in this sitch.
~ When Vania used the word “cleansing” to describe the Galatea revolution it literally repulsed me. If this were crossover fiction, then picture Dolores Umbridge as her mom, or Umbridge as a young woman. Like I said, repulsive.
~ This book had one of the best last sentences I’ve read in a long time!
Persis Blake/Wild Poppy- An aristocrat and spy, she’s kind of amazing.
Andrine- Persis’ friend who helps with her freedom fighting, because she’s a kick-ass female.
Slipstream- a sea mink. And yes, I want one of those too.
Tero Finch- member of the Royal College of Gengineers, brother to Andrine, friend to Persis and the Queen.
Princess Isla- rules in a very limited capacity over Galatea while her baby brother learns to potty train and come of age to take over the kingdom.
Queen Gala- fancy fish food.
Citizen Aldred- leader of the revolution in Albia.
Vania Aldred- his daughter and adopted sister to the Helo siblings.
Justen Helo – grandson of Darwin and Persistence Helo, basically he’s like science royalty. Citizen Aldred is his guardian.
Remy Helo- Justen’s sister, and like most of the females in this book, there is much more to her than meets the eye.
Sharie- one ruthless nanny. It’s a good thing that even if I had children I couldn’t afford a nanny, but even if I did and I could, this woman would put me off nannies.
Naomi- medic who works with people who are Darkening (an Alzheimer’s like disease) and with Persis. Kick-ass woman.
General Gawnt- a pain in Vania’s behind.
Some characters from For Darkness Shows the Stars, but I’ll let you read who shows up on your own!
There were several midnight moments for me. The first was when I figured out a certain secret about Remy, because it made me feel quite clever. The biggest, truest midnight moment was with Persis and Justen in the Scintillians Cove. It was magical.
Stop The Clock:
I loved this book! And I might even have to read Peterfreund’s unicorn books. Oh, that’s right, that’s how much I enjoyed this book. I love that I could so get it without having read the first book (which I do own on my Kindle) but I plan to remedy that and read For Darkness Shows the Stars soon!
Diana Peterfreund— Website |Diana Peterfreund
Across a Star-Swept Sea gets a Midnight Book Rating of: