Title: Across a Star-Swept Sea
Author: Diana Peterfreund
Published by: October 15, 2013
Publication date: Balzer + Bray
Genres: Science Fiction, Romance, Fantasy
Summary from Goodreads:
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.
I love a good secret identity story, and Persis Blake plays this role well. She’s very intelligent, not to mention beautiful, which gives her an advantage in subterfuge. Persis’ world is incredibly technologically advanced, but resembles our late 1700s. Society is in an upheaval, much like the French Revolution (1789-1799). Women hold positions of power, but society continues to operate under the impression that women cannot rule alone. None of this stops Persis and her league of the Wild Poppy. They take society’s salvation into their own hands and imagine a world of peaceful justice and equality.
The romance between Persis and Justen is sweet and rocky. Neither knows if the other is trustworthy, and Justen is so convinced of Persis’ flakey identity, he can’t imagine her opinions are worth hearing, or that she cares for anything except silk and feathers. Slowly, they learn the truth about one another. The book has some resolution to their relationship, but this is actually my only complaint—the very end of the book is a scene between these two, but it feels like an unfinished thought! I wish we could’ve had a few more pages, or a short epilogue to wrap up the story more completely.
Across a Star-Swept Sea is set in the same world as Diana Peterfreund’s other book in the series - For Darkness Shows the Stars. The main characters in the first book do make an appearance, but the main stories are unrelated. If you want to start with the first book, I do recommend it. Both books have admirable female leads and sweet romances. Peterfreund bases her stories on literary classics: For Darkness Shows…= Persuasion by Jane Austen; Across a Star-Swept…= The Scarlet Pimpernel by Emma Orczy. I love that about Peterfreund. She’s introducing the Young Adult world to stories they might not pick up otherwise, and it’s a nice departure from the currently every-popular fairy tail retellings. If you want an intro to Persis and her world, check out this free prequel, short story for Kindle on Amazon--The First Star to Fall.
Would I let my teen read this book?
Diana Peterfreund’s books are imaginative with lovely settings, descriptions, and characters. Her heroines are smart and strong. I recommend these books for girls age 13 and up.
Age recommendation: 13
Sex – 2 kisses (not overly passionate, but also not chaste)
Violence – There’s a little hand-to-hand combat
My Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Buy: Across a Star Swept-Sea on Amazon.com
I read a lot. I'm a Mom. I'm officially in my 30s, but strangers often don't believe I'm old enough to drink. I love Young Adult fiction, and thought it was worthwhile to help teens and adults find age-appropriate options.