Saturday, May 25, 2013

For Darkness Shows the Stars, by Diana Peterfreund

Persuasion is my favorite of Jane Austen's novels. It's hard to have a favorite, but I do. Anne Elliot's quiet, patient, unassuming love is painfully romantic, but even more than this, she's a character you want to emulate through and through. Who doesn't want to be as good as Anne Elliot? When has goodness ever been so beautiful, so ignored, and so romantic?

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.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

It's been well over a month since I've posted here, and that's sadly because I've had very little time to read. I did finish Ally Condie's Reached, and would have written more about it had I felt I had anything to say. But I didn't, and I don't. I'm so sorry, Ms. Condie.

The things I've been busy with? Work, of course, but also television, which swallows me whole. I watched the entirety of Veronica Mars, which every fan of young adult fiction should see, because it views like a good book reads. If you know what I mean. I've got a copy of Rebel Heart I need to read (I've had it for over a month), and Cynthia Hand's Boundless, and some other things that I've borrowed from the library and from friends. And I'm reading A Wrinkle in Time with my book group (you can read my thoughts about that here). So, more apologies for the posting delays. I'll get back to YA business as soon as possible.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Re-Reading North and South

If you have yet to read North and South, by Elizabeth Gaskell, or watch the brilliant BBC adaptation, now is more than ever the time. After all, The Hobbit has thrown Richard Armitage into international admiration. Be one of the few, the infatuated, who has seen him in what is perhaps his greatest role.

(Okay, this was all just an excuse to post the above pictures from the film.)


FINALLY got Ally Condie's Reached from the library. Just took a few months, and some verbal persistence. Meanwhile, I'm still waiting for Megan McCafferty's Thumped, which came out LAST SPRING to arrive. And yes, they only ordered it because I asked. Dear Buyer, may I please have your job?

I still love libraries.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Book Deals

Sweeet! This month's Kindle Deals include a few I utterly love, beginning with The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume One: Pox Party. If you have not read this, now is the time. Also, don't be fooled! The young adult Kindle edition is the exact same thing as the discounted edition, only several dollars more expensive.

Also, Tamora Pierce, Neil Gaiman, Maggie Stiefvater, and many more are available at marvelous discounts till February. How delicious.

What books are on your list for 2013?

Friday, December 14, 2012

Hey, guess what...

Okay, not like word for word, just named along with a bunch of other bloggers, but cool nonetheless. Thank you, Macmillan.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Holiday Gifts for Fictional Characters

For Supernatural's Dean Winchester, because pie has not generally been considered a convenient food to take on the road...until now.

Domestica's $35.00 Piebox

Jeanne Chan's $18.00 Piebox Kit

For Grimm's Monroe. Fans will understand.

Off Cut Studio's solid walnut clock, $80.00

For Katniss, because you know she's a fan.

Yes, that's a Hawkeye bobblehead for only $11.99

Also for Katniss, since she seemed to be missing out on an essential fashion item for warriors who shoot arrows.

Ralph Lauren Dove Serape Open Front Poncho, a mere $1510

For Girl of Fire and Thorns's Elisa, because her love affair with camping is the underlying tale behind book one and its sequel.

Hedgehouse's Linen Throw Bed, sadly no longer available from One King's Lane.

Upcycled cans for camping mugs. You can make them yourself!
More to come.