For Darkness Shows the Stars
Balzer + Bray, 2012
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Years ago a genetic experiment gone awry left a good deal of the population with limited mental capacity. Those who were not affected, stepped up to take cared of the Reduced, and became known as the Luddites. They are the elite in society, running everything, and living off of nature. Rules have been set in place that ban scientific exploration, medicines, and anything else that isn't natural.
Generations later, the Reduced's offspring are not all affected in the same way. They are called Posts and despite being mentally capable, are still forced to work in menial jobs on the plantations where they born. The North Plantation is no different, except financially things are not going too well and Elliot North does her best to hold things together.
Four years ago Elliot North's best friend, Kai, a servant, ran away from the North plantation, begging Elliot to go with him, but she couldn't. Despite loving him, she knew she was the only one keeping everything together and keeping the Reduced on her land safe. If she left, they had nothing. Now Kai has returned with a group of Post-Reductionists looking to change things. Kai is so different, with a new name, new clothes, and new friends. He refuses to acknowledge his past or his relationship to ELliot, but when Elliot learns something about the friends he came with she must make decisions that could change their world forever.
I didn't expect to enjoy this book so much. It happened to be on sale and I read a few reviews and it sounded okay, but nothing that I would devour--which I did. This future world, which looks pretty provincial due to banning technology and science and experiments, is complicated with hierarchies that have been in place for decades. Despite this, it wasn't difficult to follow the background story.
Elliot is a strong female character who has to pretty much hide how intelligent she is so that he father will allow her to continue managing the plantation. She has to find ways to convince him to agree with her ideas, but make it seem like it's his idea--this is really difficult. Often her father ends up ruining her plans to make improvements and spends money like there was an abundance of it. She's desperately trying to keep their servants fed and safe. Elliot is well liked because she stands up for those she's taking care of (some of whom have limited capacity to understand if they are being mistreated) and does her best. She's also chosen to not follow her love, but to do what she knew was the right thing. Even though throughout much of the book, she wallowing over Kai and why he's angry with her and convincing herself she doesn't care.
I enjoyed this book because I wasn't really sure of where it was headed. It's supposed to be inspired by Jane Austen's Persuasion, but I can't attest to its similarities because I've never read Persuasion (Sorry Jane Austen fans). I was interested in finding out what happened and that kept me interested and wanting to know more about the story. The backstory was interesting to me as well and that piqued my interest as it was interwoven through. I was interested in a second book, but when I looked, it's a completely different story--from what I can tell. If I'm wrong, please let me know.
I would read it. I enjoyed it and couldn't put it down, staying up until 2 on a school night to finish. And if I'm willingly open to dealing with middle schoolers on less than 4 hours of sleep, you know it was good!