“Across a Star-Swept Sea” by Diana Peterfreund
3 out of 5 stars.
Quality of writing and storyline was about 4 to 5 stars.
How much I liked it was about 2 1/2 out of 5 stars.
After the wars between the genetically altered and the naturals, the world was nearly decimated. Now only two islands still exist, man-made landmasses that cost much but saved what remained of the human race. But all was not lost thanks to Persistence Helo and her cure for those who became victims of the Reduction. Children who were once affected by their parents’ past choices were released from the mental and physical bondage that is the Reduction. The two islands, Galatea and Albion, were relatively at peace with each other since their citizens had been healed. But nothing ever seems to stays the same for long…
Galatea, though not a direct threat to Albion, is tearing itself apart, and it must be stopped from destroying its people completely and before its inner turmoil spreads to the shores of Albion. Persis Blake, A.K.A. the Wild Poppy, is just the person to stop that from happening. Persis has been masquerading about as the Wild Poppy whenever she is in Galatea, and an Albion social light while she is around her fellow aristos. To keep her secret identity, well, a secret for lack of a better word, Persis has been pretending to be a flaky, unintelligent, vain aristo who is only worth her taste in the latest trends. But then she gets to become the Wild Poppy, and that is when she feels like her true self.
Persis has seen the destruction that the tyrannical rule in Galatea has been wreaking on its own citizens for the past six months firsthand. The Rebels have been medically reducing the Galatean people with pink pills as punishment for their disloyalty to the Rebellion. The Rebels are willing to Reduce the young and the old alike, and that is why Persis created the Wild Poppy. The Wild Poppy enables her to help victims of the Rebellion get to safety and receive the medical care they now need. But Persis is only one person and she can’t save them all, no matter how hard she tries or how much she wants to.
Justen Helo’s sole mission in life is to be a doctor, someone who can help and heal others just like his grandmother had. But it is hard to live up to the Helo name when all you’ve ever done is tinker away in a Galatean lab. He’d had one seemingly amazing breakthrough and then it turned out to be a dead-end. Another dead-end. Justen can’t take living under the Rebellion anymore. At first he had believed in the cause, he’d thought they could make a difference in the world, but now he doesn’t know what or who to believe in. What he does know is that he needs to get out of Galatea while he still can, and before his uncle finds out that he’d been the one to tamper with the most recent batch of pinks. He had made a lot of mistakes, but Justen had never intended his discovery be used like this. He had tried to aid the Rebellion in their fight for equality, and they’d just used him to crush the opposition, giving no one a chance to stand up and fight. The Rebels were fighting dirty, and Justen no longer wanted a part in it. Justen is ready to shake the dust of Galatean soil from his feet, but he needs a ride and he doesn’t have any prospects. Yet.
Call it fate. Coincidence. Maybe even chance, but Justen and Persis find themselves both in dire need of assistance; in need of one another, actually. Whether they like it or not, these two unlikely rebels must become allies in order to survive. Can Justen Helo and Persis Blake put their vendettas aside and work together to save their families and their countries, or will their unwillingness to work together allow the Rebellion time enough to start a war?
I was very excited to read “Across a Star-Swept Sea” and had pre-ordered it months and months ago in preparation for its release, and the cover for it…
To say the least I was enraptured by the beauty of the cover as well as the description on goodreads. But I didn’t get quite what I had expected.
“Across a Star-Swept Sea” is a great book! It is well written, intricate, and original. “For Darkness Shows the Stars” and “Across a Star-Swept Sea” share the same world, but they both of them felt completely different. Maybe that is why I didn’t fall in love with “Across a Star-Swept Sea” quite as much as I did with its predecessor.
I adored (still adore) “For Darkness Shows the Stars”. It is an amazing retelling of a classic novel; Diana Peterfreund’s ode to Jane Austen was so beautiful that it took my (fictional) breath away. It was a slower read, but only because I wanted to savor it for as long as possible. As my sister put it, “For Darkness Shows the Stars” was written in an almost “sweeping” style. It just moved so gracefully and fluidly that I couldn’t put it down. With “Across a Star-Swept Sea” I felt that it was a quick read, but whenever I put it away for a break, I didn’t have the desire to pick it back up again, that I could not finish it and be okay. That makes it sound like a bad book, but it wasn’t at all. It was good, I just found myself to be a bit distant from the storyline and the characters.
The characters in “Across a Star-Swept Sea” were pretty good. I think that having as many point-of-views as it did, I as a reader didn’t get to know a particular character all that well. I felt like I understood some of them, but now that I think about it, I was never super attached to one character; I just floated between them all. I did end up liking Justen Helo and Princess Isla, and it was nice when they were present or narrating the book. But even with them I felt a bit withdrawn. “Across a Star-Swept Sea” is a very well written book and it has great characters, I just didn’t feel emotionally invested in any of them.
One of the things I did like about “Across a Star-Swept Sea” was the world. Diana definitely did some world building and explaining in this book. It was a bit “messy” in the beginning because the names of certain people and events are different in “Across a Star-Swept Sea” than they were in “For Darkness Shows the Stars.” It went a bit over my head at first until the characters started to explain the history of their world. Once they did, it was good and I could tell that the story was well thought out; I admired Diana a lot for her world building in this book. Sometimes authors can’t explain their worlds in the books they write (at least that is how it feels in sometimes) because they themselves don’t have it quite mastered. I never felt that with this book, and it seemed to me that she had a firm handle on the concept of her world. I was a bit confused at parts but by the end I understood it fairly well. So, kudos on that aspect, Diana.
Overall, “Across a Star-Swept Sea” was a really good book, but it just wasn’t my favorite. It felt very different from “For Darkness Shows the Stars”, and that is why I think I didn’t love it quite as much. “For Darkness Shows the Stars” had an elegant writing and storytelling style and I missed that in this book. I haven’t read “The Scarlet Pimpernel”, so maybe that is why I couldn’t appreciate this book as much, whereas I had read and watched “Persuasion” more than once (more like ten or twenty times!). But, I do know that lots of people love this book and it is definitely worth a read. Sorry about the mixed feelings.