Monday, April 20, 2015
For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund
If you like: dystopias * family drama * female protagonists
For Darkness Shows the Stars is the story of Elliot, a Luddite, and her efforts to manage the family estate in a dystopian future. Her father and sister prefer the benefits of owning an estate to the day-to-day activities of managing it, and much of the labor falls on Elliot. She works alongside the Reduced, those who were mentally stunted by the scientific tinkering and war of generations past and are now the wards of the Luddites, and Posts, the offspring of Reduced who have the mental capacity and skills of the Luddites. The spurning of technology and hasty retreat underground protect the Luddites for the tragedy that befell the Reduced, and now they continue to be wary of all changes in technology and other feats of science. The Posts realize that any difficulties can be overcome with time, and struggle to find a place for themselves in the new world that is emerging.
The past and future, the simple and complex are in constant battle in For Darkness Shows the Stars. The Luddites are married to their belief that things must remain unaltered. They fear that if they meddle too much in the desires of God they will be punished just as the reduced were. Unfortunately, as more and more people flourish, it becomes more difficult to continue to succeed in the world without embracing new technology or ideas. Different Luddite families conform to this creed at different levels, and those who are the most strict stand to be left behind, along with the Reduced they care for. The Posts are the greatest evidence that even harsh consequences can be overcome with enough time. They wish to learn from the past, avoid the mistakes that were made, and move all the people forward. Those who realize that they are on the path to the future, and can carefully incorporate their new ideas will lead the way together into a Luddite-Post era.
Elliot exists with a foot in each world. She knows that she must maintain appearances or risk having all her work overturned by her strict Luddite father. At the same time, she knows that if her family estate doesn’t evolve, at least a little bit, they will be left behind and those in their care will suffer. The Posts and Reduced on her estate trust her judgement and know that she has their best interest in mind. At heart, Elliot is more Post than Luddite. She knows the lessons of the pasts, but she believes they can guide everyone towards a new future instead of fencing them in to a decision made generations ago. The weight of the future of two groups rests on her shoulders, and if she is not strong enough they will not all survive. Her passion and wit are easy enough for others to see, and those in key positions are willing to take necessary risks to support her, and hopefully help society carefully evolve into a new paradigm. As long as Elliot has faith in herself and her decisions, she has the potential to lead the sort of life she never dreamed possible.
If you believe the world can be a better place, read For Darkness Shows the Stars.
Peterfreund, Diana. For Darkness Shows the Stars. Balzer + Bray, 2012. Kindle edition.