Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
TYPE OF AUSTENESQUE NOVEL: Persuasion Retelling, Young Adult, Sci-fi, Dystopian
SETTING: A post-apocalyptic world, several generations after “The Reduction”
- Elliot North: Only member of the North family that does any actual work. Cares for all who are dependent on the estate for survival.
- Kai or Malakai Wentforth: Elliot’s childhood friend who ran away four years ago because he wanted more with his life than to be an indentured servant.
- The Luddites: Social class of people who are wealthy, privileged, and own estates. They are pure and believe technology and genetic modification is what caused The Reduction.
- The Reduced: Social class of people who are lowly and work as servants. They are considered fallen and helpless, and bear the sins of their ancestors.
- Posts: Social class of people who have the same capabilities of the Luddites but were born from Reduced lineage. Still considered tainted by the Reduction and work as upper servants.
Times are getting tough. The North estate is struggling to survive and with many servants leaving and crop yields diminishing, the outlook is bleak. For years Elliot has been working on a secret project that could revolutionize the harvest, but the estate is saved from poverty and ruin by the Cloud Fleet organization, a group of free Posts who are explorers that want to rent land from the North estate. The extra income is just what they need to survive, but it comes at a price…Elliot’s childhood friend, Kai has returned and he still bitterly resents her for not running away with him four years ago.
WHAT I LOVED:
- An Inventive-Post Apocalyptic World: Wow, what an incredibly unique and compelling story! As someone who hasn’t read a lot of sci-fi or dystopian stories, I was not quite sure what to expect, and I was worried this might not be my cup of tea. But I am happy to say that I greatly enjoyed this post-apocalyptic story! I found myself very interested in this world with its tragic past and there are differing beliefs about technology and what is right and what is wrong. I liked that it wasn’t too confusing to understand the parameters and history of this new world. And I think the author did a wonderful job providing detailed descriptions and explanations.
- Creative and Clever Nods: I love how the author didn’t overtly take the plot and characters of Persuasion and transplant them all into her post-apocalyptic world. Instead her story has a lot of originality and is mostly of her own creation, just with slight nods and echoes to Jane Austen’s Persuasion. It was so refreshing to see all the subtle ways Ms. Peterfreund alluded to Jane Austen’s story and yet intertwined it with her own.
- Letters and Memories: The present-day action of this story was enhanced by the inclusion of Elliot’s and Kai’s childhood letters to each other. These letters appeared at the beginning of chapters periodically and were written when Kai and Elliot were six to fourteen years of age. I loved learning about their past together, and I thought this was a very clever way to illustrate what important events took place in their young lives.
WHAT I WASN’T TOO FOND OF:
- Morality and Blurred Lines: With times changing, many people are beginning to question the Protocols (the rules since the Reduction) – including Elliot. Elliot is at war over this issue, and sometimes seems to accept and welcome the advancing changes, but at other times is horrified and calls them an “abomination.” I don’t mind a character wavering or changing their mind, but this was such an important obstacle for our main character and I didn’t feel like she came to a clear resolution with it.
- Friends vs. Lovers: Since our characters were childhood friends who were separated at age fourteen and reunited at age eighteen, the relationship between them often felt that of very good friends. And for me, it sometimes became hard to think of them as romantically involved because we didn’t see a lot of romance between them, but maybe that was because of their young age…
This story was well-crafted and engaging and I’d certainly recommend it to readers who regularly read stories in the sci-fi/dystopian genre. But I’d also recommend it to readers who, like me, have read hundreds of Austenesque novels and are looking to branch out and try something new and different. 🙂