Sunday, 13 October 2013

Review: Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund

Title: Across a Star-Swept Sea (For Darkness Shows the Stars #2)
Author: Diana Peterfreund
Release date: October 15th 2013
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian
Format: eARC
Pages: 318
Source: Edelweiss

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.

I read Across a Star-Swept Sea after two weeks of non-reading and non-reviewing (thanks a lot IB and SAT), so forgive me if I'm a little rusty in this review. Because of my apparent desperation to read a full book after this long, I may have skimmed this book a little more than I should have. And as a result of that, I've probably confused myself quite a bit, because this book is filled with intellectual plot threads that need you to be focused. But nevertheless I did enjoy this one, some parts more than others.

This book starts off kind of slow, but thankfully picks up about a quarter in. I found it really interesting to see a different take on the Reduction and its consequences. If you've read the first book, you'll be able to relate the aristos you see in this book to Luddites, and the regs (regulars) to Posts. This can be read as a standalone, but I recommend reading For Darkness Shows the Stars first, because it'll give you perspective and you'll recognize some visitors in this book. Diana Peterfreund's writing is as gorgeous as it was in the first, and I loved seeing that again. But this book is longer than the first, and I felt like it dragged a little, especially in the beginning.

Persis Blake is the Wild Poppy, but no one knows it except for her parents and a few trusted friends. On the outside, Persis pretends to be a total airhead - completely oblivious to anything going on around her other than the latest fashions. In fact, she has a reputation for being the prettiest, richest, and stupidest girl on the island. But when she comes across Justen Helo, a famous Galatean, Persis has to work extra hard to keep her true nature secret, as well as find out Justen's real motives for staying on Albion.

I have two conflicting opinions of Persis. One of Persis Flake, the empty-headed socialite, and the other is of the Wild Poppy. Persis's airy disguise really annoyed me, since I don't think it was necessary for her to go that far to hide her identity. I mean, she has a reputation of being the stupidest girl on the island! That would, in a way, make her more suspicious, in my opinion. I can't fathom how she was able to put up that front for so long, especially when she has so many things to say - things that really matter. But I really loved the determination and compassion I saw in Persis. It's obvious how dedicated she is to her cause, and she reminds me of Elliot from the first book.

I also have mixed opinions of Justen, though he doesn't have two distinct personas. I liked the thoughtful and conscientious scientist version of him, but the prejudice I saw in him pretty much throughout the book made me feel a sort of aversion to him. He takes Persis at face value, disregarding her as the idiot aristo she seemed to be. He never bothered looking beneath the surface, not until the end, after he finds out her identity. At least then he realized how shallow he was being, but I think it was a little late for that. Justen has some secrets of his own, and most of the time I never knew whether to fully trust him or not.

There was more romance in this book than in the first, though I don't know whether to call it that since it was faked most of the time. Persis and Justen are pretending to be in a relationship, for mutual benefit and at the request of Princess Isla, Persis's best friend. The two clearly begin developing feelings for each other, but similarly to the first book, I was hoping to see one kiss where they both knew who the other really was, and they were truly in love. Once again, I didn't get that. The romance wraps up right at the end of the book, literally on the last page. And I was disappointed with the way it ended, because I really do want to know what happens with the situation and the characters after! 

One thing I was really happy about is the appearance of the beloved characters from the first book. Kai, Elliot, Andromeda and Ro all have a role to play in this book, though I hoped we'd get to see exactly how that played out in the end, and what happened to them. Did they stay? Did they leave? Were they happy to find New Pacifica after finding out the well-kept secrets hidden in it? I guess I'll never know. Unless, of course, there's another companion novel in the works, which I'm hoping for!

There's a lot of politics in this book, way more than in the first one. And I'm all for a science-filled background and plot, but biology (especially genetics) is not my strong point, and there was some stuff that just went over my head and I had to skim through it. If you're interested in that kind of research, I think you'd really enjoy this book. I'm aware that this is a really long review for a book I gave three stars to, but I do have a lot to say. In fact, I have a lot more but I think I'll leave it at this. Overall, I really liked some of the supporting characters despite being conflicted about the protagonists, and the writing drew me in like nothing else. This world fascinates me, and I hope this book isn't the last I'll see of it.

*Thank you to HarperCollins for providing me with an ARC for review*

Rating: 3/5

1 comment:

  1. This book sounds like something you would need your full attention on. And that's sometimes a deterring factor for me when picking my next reads. There's much to be be said for transparent plot lines and simple tropes.

    Glad you gave this book a chance, though. :)

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