by Diana Peterfreund
Hardcover, 464 pages
Published October 15th 2013 by Balzer + Bray
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.
In this thrilling adventure inspired by The Scarlet Pimpernel, Diana Peterfreund creates an exquisitely rendered world where nothing is as it seems and two teens with very different pasts fight for a future only they dare to imagine.
This is the type of book that starts out weak but gradually gets stronger as the story develops. It took me two weeks and 60 pages to get on with the story as I kept dozing off in the beginning. I actually almost abandoned this but I loved For Darkness Shows the Stars and I remembered that this was how the first book started out for me as well, so I tried harder.
Across A Star-Swept Sea is set on a different side of FDStS's world and as both cultures have too much differences, the world-building established in the first book was pretty much back to zero. But really, apart from the slow pacing in the beginning that involves the world-building which was a struggle to get past through, the rest of Across A Star Swept Sea flew by like a breeze.
The protagonists, Justen and Persis, are characters with substance. They are both strong in their own different ways and their romance is something that was very entertaining to watch develop as they have the most opposite personalities, with Persis and her "dumb, happy and fashion-centric" self and Justen with his serious and research-focused mind. Granted, Persis was only disguising her true self but still it was almost hilarious to even think that Justen would fall for a girl like dumb-Persis.
Justen wasn't totally able to bust her pretense but he did see glimpses of a smart and family-loving girl behind Persis's mask and I think it's what ultimately made her grow on him. As well, even though there were no confessions of undying love and their fake relationship never became real, their romance is as swoon-worthy with an ending that will melt you into a pile of fangirl-goo.
Furthermore, I love that we get to see our favorite characters from For Darkness Shows the Stars here! I almost lost hope that I will ever see them again and it was like a dream come true having the main characters from both books interact together. I also find it ironic that Kai and Elliot made their debut kiss here and not in their own book. Justen and Persis, however, do not need another book for a debut kiss but I would love to see them in-real-love in the third book (if there's a third book).
Rating: 4.5/5 stars