Monday, June 25, 2012

Book Review: For Darkness Shows the Stars

LC's Summer Reads will be featured throughout the Summer of 2012-- These are books that I decided would be perfect for on the beach, in the sun, or pretty much wherever I happen to be this summer! Click on the button above to see what other books I plan on reading! :)
*****
Author: Diana Peterfreund
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: June 12, 2012
Pages: 398

Summary: Generations ago, a genetic experiment gone wrong—the Reduction—decimated humanity, giving rise to a Luddite nobility who outlawed most technology.

Elliot North has always known her place in this world. Four years ago Elliot refused to run away with her childhood sweetheart, the servant Kai, choosing duty to her family’s estate over love. Since then the world has changed: a new class of Post-Reductionists is jumpstarting the wheel of progress, and Elliot’s estate is foundering, forcing her to rent land to the mysterious Cloud Fleet, a group of shipbuilders that includes renowned explorer Captain Malakai Wentforth—an almost unrecognizable Kai. And while Elliot wonders if this could be their second chance, Kai seems determined to show Elliot exactly what she gave up when she let him go.

But Elliot soon discovers her old friend carries a secret—one that could change their society . . . or bring it to its knees. And again, she’s faced with a choice: cling to what she’s been raised to believe, or cast her lot with the only boy she’s ever loved, even if she’s lost him forever.

Inspired by Jane Austen’s Persuasion, For Darkness Shows the Stars is a breathtaking romance about opening your mind to the future and your heart to the one person you know can break it.

LC's Take:

So... This is one book that was really difficult for me to review. On one hand, there were some things about it that I really didn't like, but then on the other hand the story was loosely based off of Jane Austen's book Persuasion, which I've never read, so I feel like it's almost unfair of me to rate this book low considering that I may have missed a lot of the point of this story and its characters since I don't know anything about the classic it's based off of...

So because I have to critique this book more as a stand-alone and not as a new take on a classic, this review probably won't be as good or accurate as someone who has read Persuasion. If you were thinking about reading this one, it would be a good idea to read some other reviews for it as well!

OK, here we go...

So to begin with, my biggest problem with this book was that I didn't like the characters much at all-- and I absolutely despised whatever the heck was going on between Elliot and Kai. I wouldn't even call it a romance-- it was more just a desperate attempt on Elliot's part to hold on to a guy who acted like she was totally worthless through three-quarters of the book.

And I really need to emphasize that I seriously dislike it when girls in books come across as being desperate-- wait, scratch that-- I absolutely hate it when girls come across as being desperate! And Elliot was one of the most desperate characters I've ever read about. I mean, she was a total insecure mess and let Kai control and manipulate her, because she just could not cope with the idea of being without him. It really got to be pathetic to be perfectly honest. Elliot was like that girl friend you have who's stuck in a horrible relationship with a crappy guy, and you try to tell her that she's worth better, but she just won't listen. Except it's even more frustrating because you're reading about this train wreck of a relationship and can't stop it!

I also thought that Elliot's thought processes could be totally unrealistic to the point of seeming ridiculous-- She was just so insecure! As one example, there is a part where Benedict tells Elliot that her mother had left his father for Baron North. Immediately, Elliot jumps to the conclusion that her mother was only out to get money from the Baron, and it was no wonder Kai had tried to bribe her, Elliot, with money to stay quiet because she came from a long line of women who would do anything to get rich. Umm... what?? How the heck did you surmise that?? Do you really have that little confidence in your mother and yourself? I just didn't get it. It was such a strange conclusion to jump to, and I was seriously baffled.

Then there were the letters back and forth between Elliot and Kai, which were also ridiculous. They went something like this:

Dear Kai,

Please don't ever leave me. I am totally head over heels in love with you and would die if you ever went away.

Your friend,

Elliot

*****

Dear Elliot,

You're a stinking Luddite with no brains. Bring me stuff and maybe I'll still hang out with you.

Your friend,

Kai

*****

Dear Kai,

I hate you.

Not Your friend,

Elliot

*****

Dear Elliot,

Yeah well, I hated you first.

Not Your friend,

Kai

Yeah, no joke, that's basically in a nutshell how the letters came across to me. There was no affection, just misunderstanding and immature insults. For me the reader, it was impossible to feel the same loss as Elliot did when Kai left, because there was nothing between her and Kai to lose in the first place!

So let's talk about Kai-- where do I even begin? In this book, Kai is a total jerk who acts selfish, manipulative, and immature. Until the very end, there is never a moment where I got to see a sweet side to him, where I might've thought to myself, OK I get why Elliot likes him, even if he can be mean and rude, I can understand her attraction. No. He was a douche to her throughout almost the whole book-- even in all the letters-- there was nothing revealed about him to make him seem worthy of Elliot's love and attention. And from the moment he and Elliot are reunited, he's badmouthing her and her family. But this was the kicker-- he was staying on their property. Yeah! He's staying on Elliot's family's property and he thinks it's OK to badmouth her and her family and treat her like dirt! If I was Elliot? I would've been like, you know what dude? If you don't like me and my family, why don't you pack your bags and get the heck off our land. OR, if that would have threatened the Fleet staying there and paying rent, I would have gone to the admiral of the Fleet and let him know to put Kai in line because getting insulted on a continual basis wasn't part of the deal. Why did Elliot just stay quiet and take his abuse? And why on earth did Elliot feel so guilty for making the clear responsible choice of staying behind on the estate and taking care of business instead of running off with Kai four years ago?

So in case you're a bit confused, the whole "thing" between Elliot and Kai went something like this:

Elliot was born a Luddite and Kai was born a child of "The Reduced," which are the lower class who serve the Luddites. Elliot and Kai grew up as "friends" (even though in their letters I never saw anything revealed of friendship, it was just Kai being resentful and trying to take advantage of Elliot) and then four years ago, Kai asked Elliot to leave her home, family and the estate she's ultimately responsible for to be with him. Elliot made the tough decision to stay behind because she had to take care of the farm and the people who depended on and worked for her family. So Kai left anyways, and then comes back one day as a member of a Sea Fleet which is renting land from Elliot's grandfather to build a new ship. And the rest of the story is about Kai trying to make Elliot feel sorry for not leaving everything for him and bringing her down for trying to be responsible... Well hey Kai, guess what? Not everyone is as selfish and immature as you-- some people actually understand that there are obligations and responsibilities in life and people that depend on them and things they're accountable for and they can't just up and leave because they're in love with you. And if you weren't such a selfish ass throughout the entire flipping book, maybe you would have realized that Elliot not leaving was because she was objective and wise when you were being a delusional idiot. The world doesn't freaking revolve around you buddy, sorry! Seriously, grow up already because you act like a spoiled little brat throughout the entire stinking story. And also-- you wanting Elliot to leave with you in the first place was not romantic-- it was foolish, selfish, and irresponsible.

[Whoa. Glad I got that off my shoulders!]

And really, I didn't understand why Elliot was constantly lamenting the fact that Kai was no longer "her Kai," how he was no longer the "old Kai," and how now he was this horrible person. Because in reality, he was just as much of an ass even way back when-- in all his letters to Elliot, he just came across as being totally selfish and immature and didn't care about Elliot unless she was completely under his control. It was one unhealthy and twisted relationship, and you'd think that after 4 YEARS of mulling it over, Elliot would have had time to figure this out. She acts like she's lost this amazing person who used to love her, when actually, Kai treated her like crap even before he left the estate. And lo and behold, he still acts like a child having a temper-tantrum now that he's 18.

I also didn't understand Elliot and her sister Tatiana's hate for one another. To me, there was no motivation behind it and was just added in as another point of conflict to the plot. Why couldn't they stand each other again? I mean it would have been one thing if Elliot and Tatiana just annoyed each other but in the end really loved one another, but they were completely estranged, with absolutely no sisterly bond or affection. It just didn't seem natural to me. I have a sister and we don't always get along or see eye to eye, but I don't see how you could dislike your sister as much as Tatiana and Elliot did.

OK, so what did I like about this book, you're probably wondering... Well, I did like the world building, and I thought it was really interesting to take a Post-Apocalyptic society and put them in a classic storyline. It almost came across as Steampunk because the characters acted Victorian in their manners and speech, but then there were futuristic elements as well. So that aspect of the book was very interesting and creative.

Also, the ending of this book did save it for me *somewhat.* Kai redeems himself for the most part, even though any explanation for why he was a jerk did not justify his attitude and behavior in my opinion, and if there was any explanation for why he all of a sudden pulled a 180 and became this awesome kind and caring guy, well-- I missed it. Basically, the strings were all tied together but it seemed a bit too convenient for me. But at the very least, Kai did change by the end and Elliot didn't end up with the jerk he started out as.

So all in all, I wasn't a big fan of this book, but I feel like my opinion isn't the best one to be taking because like I said, I'm totally clueless about the book it is based off of. Maybe if I read Persuasion by Jane Austen I would have a better understanding for the motivations behind the characters and why they acted the way they did, but on the other hand I think that a book should be able to stand alone and be likable whether I read the classic it was based off of or not. I guess it just wasn't for me, unfortunately!

~Cover Talk~

I like the concept behind the design for this book cover, but at least from the ARC cover, it just doesn't look like it was executed that well. The image when you see it from afar looks very pretty, but there is just something about it that I can't put my finger on-- it looks sort of fake and artificial to me. Not to mention, the girl on the cover looks nothing like how Elliot is described in the book, and that's just a big pet-peeve of mine. I'm not trying to sound all negative about it, because in some ways it is very lovely and the galaxy stars are gorgeous, but this cover just isn't a favorite of mine.

LC's Rating:
25star
Unfortunately I was not very impressed by this book- I didn't like Elliot's desperate attachment to Kai and I could not stand how horribly Kai treated Elliot. The ending sort of made up for the first three-quarters of the book, but overall I just didn't like it that much. However, I've also never read Jane Austen's Persuasion which is the classic that this story is based off of, and that probably affected how I interpreted the characters and their actions...

Check it out!

Amazon| Kindle| Goodreads



16 comments:

  1. Great review :D
    I'm a new follower and I just love your layout/blog!!!It's very eye catching.

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    1. Why thank you! It's nice to meet you, and I'm following your blog now too, it's super cute! ;)

      ~Lea

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  2. Desperate characters frustrate me, so now I'm a bit wary with this one...I'll probably try to read a few chapters or borrow it from my library if they get it.

    Thanks for your honest thoughts, Lea! :)

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    1. I hope that you enjoy it more than I did :)

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  3. Desperate characters frustrate me beyond belief. They make it really hard for me to read a book and enjoy it. Like you, I have not read the classic that this novel has been based off of, so I don't think I'll be giving this book a chance. I have a hunch that our feelings regarding the characters will be mutual because of this.

    Nice review. I thought your rant was entertaining. lol

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    Replies
    1. Argh I know!! You just want to jump into the story and tell them to wake up right?! I think my rant wasn't so much against the book as it was against Kai (wanted to punch him SO BAD) and Elliot's inability to respect herself and her decisions. The writing itself was very good though!

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  4. Oh, Elliot. Please grow a backbone and ditch this jerk.

    I was so excited for this book, but I don't think I'll pick it up anymore. Desperate characters are just painful to read about. Ah, this sucks. I'm glad I didn't buy this two days ago. :)

    Lovely review, Lea.

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  5. Wow, I'm bummed to hear the first part wasn't so good. An ending will make or break a book for me, but if I can't handle the beginning, I'm toast to begin with. Darn, I was really looking forward to this one. Guess I'll wait for more reviews on it...

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  6. Hmm. I'm reading this one soon for an ARC tour so if I don't like it, I won't have spent money on it...though I hope I DO. I'm sad you didn't, Lea! I haven't ever read Persuasion either so I'll be going in cold, too. I'm really anxious now to see what I think of it. Your reasons for not liking it definitely make sense to me!

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  7. I've been wondering about this book. I've seen mixed reviews. It seems kind of like a divide, the people who did like it loved it and the ones who didn't absolutely hate it. Thanks for being honest! I may try and read it if it comes into the library, but probably not for a VERY long time if I do.

    Great review =D

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  8. So I read your review, and I only got halfway through before I stopped because I HATE reading reviews before I read a book. I bought For Darkness Shows the Stars, and now I'm going to be reading it, and notice all the things you said, and I'll mentally slap myself for breaking the sacred "Don't-read-a-review-before-reading-a-book" rule I have in place for me. -.- It just skews my opinion of the book and I sometimes never get to form my own opinions about a book, which annoys me so much. Anyway, it was a fantastic review up to where I stopped! :)

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  9. Great review. I have read the classic it is based on (millions upon millions of times) and I can tell you the characters are nothing like the ones in this book. I purchased this one simply because it was inspired by Persuasion and I'm thinking I might regret that. I don't want to give too much away about the classic since I'm assuming you will read it, but it is set in a different time era; one that put a huge amount of importance on marrying well. Even with that monkey on their back, Austen's characters aren't desperate and weak like these seem to be. Quite the opposite.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this one. Your review was excellent and that's coming from someone who has read Persuasion. I might shelve this one for a while. I'm already disappointed in it.

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  10. I want to reach out and give you a big huge hug! Every single review I've read of this book talks about how awesome it was but I felt pretty much the same way about it as you did. The relationship between Kai and Elliot frustrated me and the letters sidn't help it much either. I do like all that I have read of Persuasion so I was sorely disappointed! Great review!

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  11. Ah I was really hoping this one would be good. I've never read Persuasion but I've had people tell me it's good so I may try it eventually. But I've seen several mixed reviews on this one so it's not quite at the top of my TBR list. Great review as always! :)

    <3
    Taylor

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  12. What a detailed review! Thanks for pointing out initially that you didn't read Persuasion, though, I'm not sure you'd like Persuasion if you felt the way you did about this book.

    I recently "read" it via audio book and it's basically what you outlined there ... The Captain Wentworth treated Anne with a lot of disdain when he met her a few years after she refused to marry him (on the prompting of a close friend). But his motivation was to hurt her as much as she hurt him. Anyways, I don't want to write out the ENTIRE novel, but I'd love to hear your opinion on Persuasion and then again on this book when/if you read it!

    This one is on my TBR list, have you read any other Diana Peterfreund books?

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  13. Thank you for reviewing. I've had my eye on this book. I did want to say that there is a prequel to this book, and it kind of explains why Kai treats Elliot the way that he does. Not that treating anyone like crap is justified - but Elliot abandoned Kai in the prequel.

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