Review: Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund

Posted October 28, 2013 in Review / 2 Comments

Across a Star SweptAcross a Star-Swept Sea (For Darkness Shows the Stars #2)
By Diana Peterfreund
Published October 15th, 2013
Balzer + Bray
464 pages
Young Adult | Science Fiction | Dystopian
Source: Received from Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins (via Edelweiss) in exchange for an unbiased review (Thank you!)




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About the Book:

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.

A companion novel.  That’s what they are calling this second book in Diana Peterfreund’s For Darkness Shows the Stars series.  It is fully a stand alone book AND it is a second entry in the series.  Above all, it is an amazing world to get caught up and utterly lost in.  Take one part The Scarlet Pimpernel, shake a tiny bit of Merchant-Ivory Films over top (because we all must know our place in society), inject a good shot of Watson and Crick in, and smack it over the top with the action from The Bourne Identity and there you have it.  That’s the book in a nutshell.

Have I totally lost you?  I do that a lot.

The story follows the basic plot of The Scarlet Pimpernel.  Lady Persis Blake is a high ranking aristocrat, having grown up with the Princess who is currently ruling the island of Albion.  Due to this unique position and her family’s wealth, Persis is able to have an alter ego named the Wild Poppy.  Again, similar to The Scarlet Pimpernel, Lady Persis Blake hides her Wild Poppy persona by playing the superfluous, idiotic Lady in Waiting to the Princess of Albion.

Persis has spent her entire life challenging and questioning life’s injustices.  When the rebellion and subsequent brutal punishments of aristocrats begin on the neighboring island of Galatea, she takes it on herself to rescue as many people as she can on Galatea.  It’s there that she runs into Justin Helo.

Justin is huge complication for Persis because she doesn’t know whether she can trust him, if she should use him for her own cause, or if she should just deal with him like he’s the enemy.  He does live with the enemy on Galatea.  But he could be the savior Persis has been looking for to help with a personal family issue.

Justin doesn’t help his cause either.  He’s not your usual swoon-worthy hero.  Oh, he’s good looking, alright.  But he’s very closed off and focused on one thing – he’s a doctor (they’re called “medics” in this world) and he has his genetics research he must attend to and nothing is to stand in his way.

Justin is also hiding a secret from Persis and as the reader, you just don’t know how big this secret is going to get or when it’s going to come out.  When it does come out, you’re then wondering how Persis is going to deal with the truth.

But that’s not the only snag in this story.  Justin has a younger sister who is torn between being loyal to their uncle who they live with (the before mentioned “enemy”).  Top it off with a cousin who tows her father’s party line to a “T” and you have a recipe for catastrophe within that family.

Especially when everyone is looking for the Wild Poppy!

Sounds like I’ve given the entire story away but honestly, I haven’t even come close… Seriously!!!  There are so many stunning scenes that are just too amazing!  See that cover image up top?  It is extremely accurate to two scenes in the book – two of my absolute favorite scenes… awwwww 😀 !!!

The only reason why I took a half star off my review is because when Persis did her rescue missions, I wanted more detail on how she did it.  The action was great in a lot of cases (hence The Bourne Identity comparison), but details on the rescues were a tiny bit lacking.  I did read the ARC so there may be more detail in the finished story, though.

Diana Peterfreund’s mind is absolutely ingenious and completely vivid.  I hope there will be another “companion” book in this “series”…. pretty please?




DPeterfreund-smallpic-200x300About the Author:

Diana Peterfreund has published nine novels for adults and teens, including the four-book Secret Society Girl series (Bantam Dell), the “killer unicorn novels” Rampant and Ascendant (Harper Teen), and For Darkness Shows the Stars, a post-apocalyptic retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion. Her newest book, Across a Star-Swept Sea, is a companion novel inspired by the classic series The Scarlet Pimpernel. In addition, she’s written several critically acclaimed short stories and a variety of non-fiction essays about popular children’s literature. Diana lives in Washington D.C., with her family.


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Other Books in the Series:

for darkness shows the starsAmonth the Nameless Stars First Star to Fall















About Kristin

Kristin has to ensure she gets her minimal requirement of "happily ever after" books in between those books that contain cliffhangers and never-ending story arcs. It's for her family's sake. When not reading, she's homeshooling her 10-year old son, watching cartoons on TV, or taking a nap.

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