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I picked this up because of the blurb that said it was a post-apocalyptic Persuasion. It is not.

Persuasion is about a romance between adults. Elliot and Kai, the characters who take the places of Anne Elliot and Frederick Wentworth, are eighteen. That is, eighteen when the book begins, after Kai has made his fortune, when he returns to his childhood home to discover that the woman who refused him is still his one true love. They were fourteen when Elliot reneged on her promise to run away with him.

At first I thought Peterfreund might have de-aged them because modern sensibilities cannot respect a woman who allows herself to be persuaded away from her true love, but might be able to sympathize with a child in that position; but, as it turned out, there was no persuasion. Elliot made the intelligent, responsible decision not to run away entirely on her own.

So this is a romance about teenagers, with secrets, and failures to communicate, and high drama, and wrist-grabbing in anger, and no sense of proportion. If you can imagine a Jane Austen novel with no sense of proportion and no sense of humor, it might be like For Darkness Shows the Stars, but not at all like Jane Austen.

So, it isn't Jane Austen pastiche. It doesn't really work as science fiction either. It is not impossible to believe in a character who makes scientific breakthroughs with no training, no discovering a hundred ways that didn't work, and no standing on the shoulders of giants because the giants have all been razed. This book has three such characters, in three different fields. The world-building is more like set-dressing. Peterfreund's apocalypse has given her world plantation slavery without the guilt. The majority of the population, the Reduced, really are mentally inferior to the landowners, the Luddites: they can manage a few one-syllable words, some signs, and simple, repetitive tasks, and they are prone to self-harm when they are young, old, sick, or pregnant.

It is very well-written, for idfic.


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