Review: Across a Star Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund
Expected publication October 15th by Balzer + Bray
ARC received from the publisher
So, I’ve been putting off reviewing Across a Star-Swept Sea because I ultimately have mixed feelings about it. Ms Peterfreund is one of my favourite authors, and I’ve loved her Killer Unicorns books and For Darkness Shows the Stars. In some ways Across a Star-Swept Sea was better than For Darkness Shows the Stars, but in other parts I felt it wasn’t as gut-wrenching as its companion novel was.
After mankind ruined the world with their technology, a small segregation created two islands, Galatea and Albion. They have lived in relative peace for generations, until the Regs in Galatea revolt against their aristocracy. Half reg, half aristo and best friend of the Albion regent, Persis Blake can’t stand by and watch the Galatean aristocracy being chemically Reduced to shells of their former selves.
Across a Star-Swept Sea (AaSSS) is essentially a companion novel of For Darkness Shows the Stars (FDStS). They can be read seperately without issues, although some key characters of FDStS do make an appearance in AaSSS. The books both contain the same world, but the novels are also very different, if not only in genre. Where FDStS is mainly a romance, AaSSS is more science-fiction and action-packed with a romance sub-plot. Consequently it’s very hard to compare the two, them being so different in almost everything.
Even the world-building is different. Where FDStS is set in a more depressing and harsh landscape, AaSSS is set on islands where the weather is always nice and food never scarce. They have very advanced technologies, including temporary genetic solutions that change your appearance and sugary flying notes that are created from your body’s nutrients.
Persis herself, I really liked. She was a great girl, and I’d totally be her friend if I happened to have lived on Albion. Princess Isla and the other secondary characters were great too, but I felt we saw a too little of them. The vast majority of the screen time we’re following Persis and Justen, the arch enemy/love interest of Persis. Basically, because Persis does spy missions (awesome, by the way!) she doesn’t trust the regular Justen from Galatea. Therefore she has thought up an alter ego of herself, Persis Flake, that’s stupid and clothing-obsessed. Now I didn’t mind this at all – it works with what we know about Persis and her world. However it gets terribly annoying that after three hundred pages she’s still being Persis Flake. Her disguise started to grind against my nerves after a while.
And I think that’s where the biggest problem of Across a Star-Swept Sea lies. There is plenty of action, but there is so much of nothing going on in between that the book felt longer than necessary.
That being said, I immensely enjoyed Across a Star-Swept Sea. The world Ms Peterfreund created here is amazing, and I loved being immersed into a realm of frangipani (or however it was spelled) flowers and high-tech palm thingies and fabulous dresses and hair-styles. As always, Ms Peterfreund’s world-building was superb. I hope she will one day write a third book in this world, even though she doesn’t seem to have any plans to as of now.
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.
- Review: Sick by Tom Leveen (4/5 Stars)
- Short Reviews: For Darkness Shows the Stars #0.5-1.5 by Diana Peterfreund (5/5 Stars)
- Review: Partials by Dan Wells (4/5 Stars)
- Review: For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund (5/5 Stars)