Book Review

Book Review of Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund

Across a Star-Swept Sea

I was so excited by the premise of Across a Star-Swept Sea that I went out and bought the first book in the series: For Darkness Shows the Stars, to read first. Both books were beautiful and two of my absolute favorite finds this year. Although Across a Star-Swept Sea can stand on its own, I highly recommend you get the previous book and read it first if you haven't done so, so that you can enjoy a delicious surprise in the second one!

Both novels are set in a future world where the Earth has been devastated by genetic experimentation gone awry and the resulting wars. Humanity is has rebuilt itself in two distinct and separate cultures, both unaware of any other surviving human societies and both still dealing with the fall-out of actions begun centuries ago.

Across a Star-Swept Sea is set in New Pacifica, with a decidedly Hawaiian feel - beautiful and inhabited by a culture that is technologically advanced and yet totally isolated. Believing themselves to be the only remnants of humanity left, the two islands are wrapped up in their own social struggles - a revolution where citizens are rebelling against aristocrats and using a dangerous weapon that mimics the Reduction, a brain disorder cured several generations back and a remnant of the past's genetic engineering.

Frivolous Persis Blake is an aristocrat with a dangerous secret. To everyone else she is an empty-headed spoiled girl with nothing more on her mind than swirling silks, pets and pleasure cruises. To the revolution she is much more. Underneath all the hair and gossip and manufactured shallowness is a sharp mind bent on saving the neighboring island's people and navigating the dangerous waters of the revolution.
Justen Helo also has a secret. Claiming sanctuary on the island of Albion, he is forced into a pretend romance with Persis to hide the real reason for his stay on Albion. He's not just running from the revolution, he's running from the terrible knowledge of what he's done.

As the two get caught up in their own charade they find that everything isn't as clear as it first appeared. I loved watching them grow as characters while their relationship also grew during periods of presumption, mistrust, blossoming emotion, misunderstandings and a gradual insight into who each actually is. Will either one risk sharing their secrets, even if it means risking what means most to each?

The best thing about this book: the world building and the complexity of the characters. Diana Peterfreund is a master at describing all of the tech toys, genetic engineering, emotion and scenery of New Pacifica. I could almost smell the fragrant flowers, get lost in the star-lit cove and feel the rustle of swirling fabrics. The description is so well integrated that it helps the story breathe as a real and living place. I LOVED the tech & science too - especially the flutternotes and how they worked. Each character was well-written and convincing and I enjoyed all of the different perspectives of the same event. I also loved the fact that this book was set in the same world as For Darkness Shows the Stars. Both books shine, but for different reasons. The fact that they both are based off of classic novels (Jane Austin's Persuasion and The Scarlett Pimpernel by Orczy) is an added bonus.

Across a Star-Swept Sea was totally convincing and engrossing and just flat out beautiful. It's the perfect mix of a dystopian, science fiction and a classic story of human emotion. Highly recommended!

*I recieved a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

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