(YA Review) Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 6.02.09 PM Across a Star-Swept Sea
Author: Diana Peterfreund
Published: Oct. 15, 2013
Genre: YA science fiction/dystopian
Rating: 5 stars (aka I loved it!)
Why’d I read it?:
I enjoyed the first book in this two book series and wanted to try this one!

Peterfreund, Diana. Across a Star-Swept Sea. , 2013. Print. ISBN-13: 9780062006165.
Formats available: paperback, ebook, hardcover Paperback $7.67. Kindle $8.99

Synopsis: (from amazon)
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.

My Thoughts:
I read the first book, Darkness Shows the Stars and liked it. But this is one of those rare situations where I thought the second book was better than the first. These two books make up a two-book series but each book follows two different main characters in two different parts of the world. So the second book is not a direct continuation of the first, rather it is more of a companion novel.

The first thing that hooked me was the premise. I love a good old-fashioned spy story, and the fact that the spy is a young girl whose alter ego is a silly, spoiled rich girl? Love it. I just cant get enough of seeing everyone around her write her off as being stupid and vapid (mostly just because she’s pretty and dresses well), all the while I know that she’s excetpionaly brave and intelligent. Ok I did have a hard time believing that a 16-year-old was actually responsible for all the things the Wild Poppy was doing, BUT I was able to wave that aside. Its fiction afterall, I don’t read fiction because im looking for something realistic.

I also loved how there was a bit of a departure from the norm. Niether the guy nor the girl are fighters. Rather they both rely on their intelligence, and in her case, bravery, to get things done and to fight against the government. Its kind of cool to see two characters be awesome and oppose a corrupt system without being good at physical fighting. I also enjoyed the themes of gender equality that float throughtout the book. Theres a bit of discussion on what girls can and cant do in this society, and I liked seeing the characters not only discuss and argue about this, but also see them thinking about it themselves, and to see their worldviews be pushed past their comfort zones.

I also liked how this story is a bit more complex than most dystopians. There are two distince societies (equivalent of “countries” neighboring countries) and they each have differeing cultures, rules, and morals. And yet neither one is really “good” and the other “bad”, rather they both have positive and negative aspects. Additionally, the one country has already had a rebellion occur to topple the corrupted monarchy. Instead of fighting to oppose this corrupt monarchy, we see the story start out after the monarcy has been deposed and now the new rulers (who were originally rebels themselves) are equally as corrupt. That’s who she is fighting against. The boy comes from this group and was a rebel, but now hes finding that his people are going too far to achieve their goals and are no better than the monarchy they opposed to begin with. So I feel that the world and society are a bit more complicated and developed than perhaps we usually see in the “cut and paste” dystopians that have become so common lately. I found this to be refreshing.

A refreshing and complex dystopian sci-fi that focuses a lot on the science and technology, as well as human nature, and human rights. I also adored seeing Justen falling in love with Persis even when he did think she was a silly, frivolous girl. I like that he falls for her before he knows she is the wild poppy, because he despises himself for loving a girl like her, but he’s unwillingly impressed by her displays of intellect. He simply cant stand the fact that she hides it instead of using it to better their world. Little does he know that she hides it so that she can use it to better their world. He has secrets too, and as she finds out about them she is shocked and infuriated. Its a very entertaining and emotional read!

Liked it? Loved it? Gotta have more of it?
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About the Author: 
Diana Peterfreund can be found online on her website.

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