by Diana Peterfreund
companion novel to For Darkness Shows the Stars
This was one of my most anticipated books of the YEAR. I have unrestrained adoration for For Darkness Shows the Stars, and to say I was excited for this companion novel with such an interesting premise is a gross implication.
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.
It was so good. My opinion may be completely clouded by a lot of factors-- for one, I desperately wanted to love it. I wanted to love it, not "I wanted it to be good'... I think there's a difference there. But yes, I did really love it and there's so many reasons and I don't really feel like spelling them out.
A few points first, because I want to be fair and not completely biased. There was definitely some heavy-handed writing, a LOT of "tell not show", especially when it came to trying to portray Justen's view of Persis. I understand why Peterfreund approached it this way, to show the actual growth of the character and how his opinions change, but it felt very forced at times. Entire pages of exposition dedicated to his less-than-ideal view of the heroine. Also, and it saddens me to say, but the "cameo" didn't particularly impress me. But perhaps I was just swept up with the Persis's story and didn't want the detour. It also takes a few chapters to get into the groove of things and make sense of this world-- the Reduced, Regs, Aristos.. a lot of it was kind of overwhelming at the beginning and hard to make sense of.
Okay, onto the good things. PERSIS BLAKE I LOVE YOU. So much. In a similar way that I fell for Elliot North, I felt she was such a stunning, worthy character. Perhaps a bit too awesome/perfect at times, but DAMN all you shitty movie writers out there, THIS IS A FUCKING BADASS STRONG LADY HEROINE. We need more Persis Blakes in the world. She's complicated, alarmingly smart, brave, capable... it's kind of impossible not to admire her. I loved her relationship with Justen (it felt very Pride and Prejudice at times, which was an odd observation but nevertheless an appreciative one), as well has her relationship with the Princess, her parents, and Wild Poppy (heh). I wish there were a few more action scenes, kissing scenes*, and I won't say no to more badassery, and I also appreciated the political game as well (although sometimes it felt a tad clunky).
I'm pretty much fangirling a character, people. Take note.
The writing was well done, and I did enjoy the fact that readers get multiple points of view but not in an obtrusive manner. The adored the descriptions-- the clothes, the people, the sea cave, the glamour, the clothes (yes, honestly)... they all came together to make this book that much more engrossing. And I was desperate to see how Persis' adventures would go. PS- science in books = two thumbs up!
Rating in HP Terms: Exceeds Expectations
Recommended for: everyone! whee! spread the happiness!
Acknowledgements: awesome! 4/5
8.8/10- because I'll admit, I'm probably kind of biased, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't take me seriously when I say that this book is great and you should read it ;) It's definitely not perfect (and on an objective scale, the rating would probably be lower), but it was exactly what I wanted at the time, and well, I liked Persis a lot and I want to raid her closet.
The point of this review: Persis is effing awesome.
*when do I ever say "more kissing scenes"? This book is pretty special...
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