By Diana Peterfreund
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.
Here’s the second installment in the world of “For Darkness Shows the Stars”, set in a different part of the world from Eliot’s, this is the world of Persis Blake, aristocrat, socialite, vapid, and empty-headed…or is she? In this lovely sci-fi retelling of The Scarlet Pimpernel, we see an intelligent and caring young woman risk everything to save those in danger of losing their minds to the new weaponized drug that is Reducing those born with their minds intact. While all this political play is going on, Persis’s best friend, who happens to be Royalty, asks her a favor: look after Justen Helo, a refugee and prodigy in his chosen field of science and medicine. Persis’s secret comes at a cost when she begins to fall for the passionate, and secretive Justen. Justen is smart and observant, and can’t seem to understand why a girl who is obviously almost as intelligent (maybe more) than he is would pretend to be otherwise. Persis doesn’t know what to do with the young Helo when she discovers secrets about him, because she wants more than anything to be able to trust him. This is a great retelling of a fantastic classic, and a great addition to a spectacular world that the author has created. My only difficulty with this book was centered on the relationship between Justen and Persis and the scenes where they are swimming and making out. As per usual, this kind of thing makes me uncomfortable, so I like to warn people when it occurs, in case there are other hyper-sensitive people out there. Other than that very small issue, this book was fantastic and lovely.
4.25 out of 5