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.
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Number of Pages: 464
Reviewed by Ellie, age 16
As a fellow book lover, I’m sure you’ve heard the term “don’t judge a book by it’s cover.” Well, I’d like to expand on that idea by adding the following: don’t judge a book by it’s blurb, because Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund is far more interesting than it’s back cover leads you to believe. Here’s the real story: Persis Blake is a privileged aristocrat living in a dystopian island society that is on the brink of war. Working as a spy for her best friend and the reigning princess of Albion, Persis has quite enough on her plate without adding the problems of a runaway medic, a fatally ill mother, and a whole host of other problems that add up to a deliciously intricate plot line.
At first, I found it very difficult to get into Across a Star-Swept Sea, mostly because Peterfreund does a fabulous job of showing (not telling) about all the technology, history, and drama unfolding in the dystopian nation of Albion. However, once I continued reading, I found that I truly enjoyed this book. There is a large cast of characters to buoy up the many fascinating plotlines, but I think the real stars of the book are the many social and personal dilemmas that Peterfreund introduces to the plot, including women’s rights, medical and wartime morality, and the laws of the class system. All this is woven together with multi-faceted characters that are flawed and fleshed out beautifully.
I also was hugely impressed by Peterfreund’s ability to create the whole new world that is Albion. The worldbuilding is especially interesting, because Peterfreund is able to create new, fabulous technology and fashion that seems otherworldly yet still accessible. As I mentioned earlier, the vocabulary that is used to describe all this new material is a bit confusing at first, but once you get a hang of it, you’ll be just as transfixed as I was.
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading about quality female heroines or is just looking for a well-rounded novel to read over the summer. (Also, Across a Star-Swept Sea is a companion novel with For the Darkness Shows the Stars, so if you enjoy either one of these novels, you can continue on with the other!)
This book hits shelves October of 2013!
Buy Hardcover | $17.99
Ellie, age 16
Ellie, age 16