Across a Star-Swept Sea (For Darkness Shows the Stars #2)
By Diana Peterfreund
Published: October 15, 2013
Publisher: Baltzar + Bray
Hardcover, 464 pages
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.Purchase Across a Star-Swept Sea here: Amazon/ Barnes & Nobles/ The Book Depository
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. --Goodreads
Across a Star Swept Sea is a beautiful gem among the masses of dystopians, which I fondly refer to as the “world sucks, so let’s blow it up” stories. However, this novel succeeds not only as a dystopian, but also as a compelling retelling of The Scarlet Pimpernel.
Honestly, I had never even heard of The Scarlet Pimpernel until I came upon the blurb of this book. In preparation for the amazingness of Across a Star Swept Sea, I read The Scarlet Pimpernel, which was a fantastic read (great recommendation if you’re into the classics). The funny thing was after I read The Scarlet Pimpernel, I was prepared to dismiss any retelling because of the complexity of the plot. Classics like Pride & Prejudice are easily translatable into the modern world, but The Scarlet Pimpernel seemed to be impossible to retell properly. Thankfully, Across a Star Swept Sea dismissed any of my initial skepticism easily after one chapter.
Persis Blake stars as the Superman of her world: pretending to be a ditz during the day, while rescuing Galatean nobles at night. Unlike most dystopian heroines who are portrayed as fierce but usually are whiny brats, Persis is ferocious and intimidating. There is no stopping this girl from doing as she pleases, as she runs around saving people at the cost of her own health.
Sometimes though, Persis is a flat character because she doesn’t seem to have any faults. Even her weaknesses aren’t really weaknesses because Persis’ suicidal nature is implied to be part of her unselfish nature. Admittedly, most people, including myself hate selfish characters but I wish Persis had some flaw to make her more human.
The writing style is spectacular with its vivid descriptions and witty dialogue. The alternating points of views between Persis and Justen were great because we could see the romance developing, which would have been impossible if there was only one POV. After all, when both people in a budding relationship are lying to each other, it’s impossible to witness the awkwardly hilarious inner turmoil.
For any For Darkness Shows the Stars fans, no fear for Elliot, Kai, and Ro make special appearances in this companion novel. They’re not the primary characters evidently, but they do play a major role. Their appearance was exciting to read, but I wish that there were more interactions between Elliot and Persis because they would make an awesome duo as two fierce ladies.
There have been very few books published in the past year that are as spellbinding and beautifully written as Across a Star Swept Sea. With a beautifully woven world (not to mention cover) along with romance fluttering off the pages, this book stands out as one of the best dystopians of the YA world.