Diana Peterfreund's novel For Darkness Shows the Stars is a retelling of Persuasion right down to many of the names (the main character is Elliot North, and her dearly loved captain is Wentforth—close, but not quite, but not quite with reason). It's technically a sci-fi novel, as it takes place in a post-apocalyptic future where technology has so ravaged the world that the only survivors have deemed any but the most rudimentary technological achievements to be the greatest evils.
Of course, because the characters are severely anti-technology, the novel doesn't feel like science fiction most of the time. When advanced science does show up, it feels either silly (sun-carts?) or magical (superhuman abilities?). The result is that the sci-fi aspects of the book are its weakest elements, and many of them feel like they're only around to make the book just a little bit more different than its source material.
That's not to say the book wasn't well done. It was. Though I frequently found myself wondering if it would've been better without such obvious derivation from Jane Austen, it was still a very good story. Kai and Elliot are an imperfect but perfect for each other pair, and the flashbacks given through their letters to one another were an ideal way to develop history while leading up to the epic final missive Persuasion is so well known for.
I was disappointed that more wasn't made of the setting. It's rare to find a novel set in New Zealand, let alone post-apocalyptic New Zealand, and I confess that I wanted to feel myself there as thoroughly as one does while watching Whale Rider, or even one of the Tolkien movies. It's such a gorgeous place, it's a pity not to make as much of it as possible.
The best uses of the setting were in the scene originally set in Lyme—the great catastrophe that turns the tide of tension away from Anne Elliot and toward Captain Wentworth. Here, the scene encompasses considerably more, as Elliot North not only rises to the occasion after that inevitable fall, but also discovers a chilling secret about the whole Fleet that will drive the narrative from here to the end of the novel.
Ultimately, Austen's Anne and Peterfreund's Elliot are two very different women who share long-suffering love and the burden of caste. Elliot is much more passionate, rigorous, and fearful than Anne, but the two women also live in very different worlds. They are both worlds of status, but they are significantly different nonetheless. In the end, Elliot is defined not by her patience and unassuming love, but by her resolve and ingenuity. She's an Anne Elliot for the modern day—or perhaps for the future. And while I do wish more sixteen year old girls were modeling themselves after the original Anne Elliot, Elliot North is very much the YA heroine of today. Which is still a very good thing.