Friday, April 4, 2014

Review: Across A Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund

Across A Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund
Book Two of the For Darkness Shows the Stars series
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: October 28, 2014
Rating: 5 stars
Source: ARC from the author

Summary (from Goodreads):

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.

What I Liked:

It's been several hours since I've read this book, and I still don't know how to read this book. This book... it was so, so amazing, you all. I know I'm not going to be able to do this book justice, with this review, but I'm going to try. I loved it so much, I don't even have words. 

Persis is the Wild Poppy - the person that is smuggling Reduced people out of Galatea, and into Albion. No one knows that she is the Poppy, because they think that she is the flitty, silly, shallow, obnoxiously girly handmaid/best friend of the princess regent, Isla. She has everyone fooled, and she plays her role perfectly. Justen Helo is an excellent medic and the grandson of Persistence Helo, a famous scientist. Everyone in Galatea knows and reveres him. When Justen goes to Albion, Persis is charged by Isla to fake a relationship with him - the two of them must prepared to be dating, to protect him and enhance her image. But things are dangerous in both Albion and Galatea, and both Justen and Persis have something to hide...

I loved the story. At first, the length of the story deterred me a bit, because it's longer than the For Darkness Shows the Stars. But the story really was engaging and interesting. So much happens in this book, but it's very subtle and slow-moving. This pacing did NOT bother me though - I liked the pace of the book, because it really fit the story. 

But yeah, the plot. It was so twisted and crazy and scheming and awesome! I love the intelligent side of this book - politically, it is FABULOUS. I love when books have a political side to them, because it makes the book seem very smart and intriguing. I like politics - well, I like reading about them.

I also love the science and medical part of this book. Peterfreund is heavy on the science in this book - there is a lot of technology and medicinal practices and things like that, and I love it. I'm a sciency person, and I love reading about science-related subjects. The Albion society is very advanced in technology and medicine, so it's interesting to see how Peterfreund uses these advancements to her advantage, in the story. 

My favorite thing about this book - the romance. Oh, the romance. In the first book, it's very subtle, because the entire time, Kai is acting like a child, and Elliot does nothing. But in this book, it's still subtle, but it's more obvious that Persis and Justen have growing feelings towards each other. Neither really act on their true feelings - they ARE in a pretend relationship, so they pretend to be in love. But then they really fall in love, and it's so cute to watch them dance around their feelings and blame their actions on the pretense of being in a fake relationship.

I'm a huge fan of Persis. I think she is AWESOME, and a wonderful actress. She is a kickbutt heroine, super smart, caring, noble, and all-around fabulous. I have massive respect for her, for acting ditsy and shallow, in order to hide the fact that she is the Wild Poppy. I really enjoyed reading about Persis.

I really love Justen as well. His role in this book is not a love interest, and that's it. He plays a pivotal role in this book, and not just because he comes to Galatea, or that he is a Helo. I can't say what his secrets are (that would be spoiling things), but they are serious and they eat away at him. I love his character, his personality, his guilt. He's also a fantastic love interest, but primarily he is a terrific protagonist. I love how well Peterfreund crafted him, as a character.

The world-building in this book (and series) - oh, how I love it so much. The world is very unique, in my opinion. I don't know a single book that has a world that similar to that of For Darkness Shows the Stars and Across A Star-Swept Sea. And I also love the writing style - Peterfreund has a beautiful writing style. If you liked the writing of The Winner's Curse, you should read this book (and its predecessor), for the writing style along. It's lyrical and fluid - I love it.

I also love how this book is a companion novel, and how I barely remembered anything from the first book, yet I could read this book perfectly. I was afraid that I would be totally lost in this book, despite the fact that it's a companion, but I wasn't confused. I like that Peterfreund ensures that old readers won't be lost, and new readers will understand the new world and characters and whatnot.

I've never read The Scarlet Pimpernel, so I have no idea how this book matches up with the original story. But I must say, I really love the story that Peterfreund has created, the world, the characters. She is such a talented writer, and I definitely love her brand of fantasy. 

What I Did Not Like:

I honestly have nothing to say in this section. Don't judge me. 

Would I Recommend It:

YESSSSS! If you love beautifully written, poignant, gorgeously structured, intelligent novels, definitely check out this book and series. Not only are the covers absolutely stunning, but the content matches amazingly. I am so glad that I got the chance to read this book - I was really sad when I was rejected on Edelweiss several times. YAY for Diana and the Baltimore Book Festival.


5 stars. This book is so beautiful! I loved the first book, and this companion novel is brilliant. I loved it even more than For Darkness Shows the Stars. I almost wish that Peterfreund would write another companion novel for this series... but it's a perfect book and series and I love it as it is.

Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!


  1. yay! I'm glad this one is good. I have book one still on my wishlist so it will be a while until this one, but I'm glad to read all the excited praise.

    1. Ooo, I really hope you read both of these books, and I hope you love them! This book was so super fabulous :D

  2. Yessss!! I loved this one too, Alyssa!! I adored seeing the whole story develop and see Persis and Justen dislike each other and then slowly grow to love each other!!
    Great review!

    1. I'm so happy to hear that! I loved the dynamic of their relationship. OMG. I still can't get over how amazing this book was. Thank you so much!

  3. YYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'M SO EXCITED THAT YOU LOVED THIS! Oh my gosh, I made a weird noise and everything when I read "5 stars"!! Isn't Persis amazing? And Justen? And I LOVE your comparison to The Winner's Curse, because it's just so perfect and so apt. Happy dance!

    And great review, Alyssa! I'll be over here beaming like a goof. :D :D

    1. THIS IS AN AMAZING COMMENT LIKE WOOHOO FOR ALL THE EXCITEMENT!! :D The caps were definitely necessary ;) I am so glad that we are in agreement! I am terribly mad at myself for waiting so long to read this book. JUSTEN. He is fantastic and Persis is fantastic and the book is fantastic! When I was typing this review, that was all I wanted to say over and over - the book was fantastic SO GO READ IT! lol

      Thank you so much, Rachel! And there is nothing wrong with that - I am sitting here grinning from ear to ear because this is definitely one of my favorite comments ever! ^_^

  4. I love this cover but I think I need to finally start this series. Although maybe I can just jump into this one because I think I read somewhere that these books are companions? The idea of the overall concept and atmosphere of this book sounds like enough to hook me in and also the plot. Glad you loved this one, Alyssa! <33

    1. I love it as well! It's definitely one of my favorites. And you can definitely read this one as a standalone! I loved this one even more than I loved the first book.

      Thank you, Eileen!

  5. I loved For Darkness Shows the Stars, so this one is definitely on my to-read list. Sadly, I have not read the source material either, but I am guilty of watching the old made-for-TV version starring Anthony Andrews, Jane Seymour and Ian McKellan many, many times. Thanks for the awesome review! I am now looking forward to reading this one even more! :D

    1. YAY READ IT! I think it's kind of cool to read this book as an original story, even if it is based on another story. Thank you, Kel! I hope you love the book ^_^

  6. YESSSSSSSSSSSSS. LOVED THIS ONE SO FREAKING MUCH. Definitely even more than For Darkness Shows the Stars (though only by a little bit because that one was just awesome.) I have to agree with you on basically everything, although I sorta wished that Justen found out sooner to give the book just a TAD more drama--although the action was pretty awesome to. :3

    1. YAYAYAYAYYAY! And secretly, I agree with you - it would have made things CRAZY if Justen had found out early about certain things. But I'm really happy with this book :D


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