October 19, 2013 by Alice in Readerland
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.
Persis Blake (also known as Persis Flake) seems as pretty, rich, and dumb as they come, playing with Slipstream her Sea Mink, and attending parties with her best friend Princess Isla. When caught in conversation about the spy, the Wild Poppy, liberating Galatean aristocrats, Persis merely requests that the Wild Poppy rescue dressmakers so that she can continue to have pretty outfits. But what no one on the island realizes is that “Persis Flake” is just one of many of Persis’ covers, as she’s also the Wild Poppy and that her Sea Mink knows much more tricks that have to do with spying.
Did I like this book? Um, no. Did I love this book? Let me give you a hint: Previously, I have only ever given two books I’ve reviewed on my blog 5 whole tea cup rating (those other books were Cinder and A Long, Long Sleep in case you were curious). Well, ladies and gentlemen, there’s about to be a third addition to that very small 5 teacup group of mine. That’s how much I loved Across a Star Swept Sea. (Curiously enough, all 3 of the 5 teacup books on here are retellings with futuristic elements, guess I have a thing for those types of stories.)
So what exactly did I love? Let’s just go over a few things before this review gets way too long:
The Setting and Writing Style
Albion is basically a futuristic Hawaii, which would be pretty enough by itself, but sounds almost magical thanks to Diana Peterfreund’s amazing writing and attention to detail. The descriptions of the lush grounds, the opulent palace complete with a water organ, and of course, the “star swept sea” are all beautifully and amazingly described in depth as if you were really there: Inside the book, on the enchanting island. Even the descriptions of Persis’ elaborate outfits are well described and beautiful.
From flutternotes, different colorful flowers that serve as messages that you can send from your palmport that float through the air to Genetemps (the ultimate disguise), I loved hearing about all the technology in this book!
All the Characters
Obviously, my favorite character is the one and only lead of this story, the wickedly clever, wickedly cute Slipstream AKA Slippy AKA Sea Mink spy.
No, but really, I adored Slippy.
All the characters in this story were so thought out, from the love interest Justen, as he puts the puzzle pieces together about Persis, to Persis’ best friend Isla, who is dealing with feminism as she tries to establish her role as ruler. I also loved how all the side female characters weren’t cookie-cutter characters or shown in a lesser light to make the lead seem better, as I’ve seen in some books. Speaking of the lead, let’s talk about Persis:
I loved her. Really, really loved her. She’s strong and funny and brave and brilliant. It’s also so nice to finally see a strong female character who is girly and still kick-butt. There is nothing wrong with strong female characters who are tomboys, and I love them, but I also love having a variety of leads who know they can be clever and strong and kick-butt and also know that they can pull off all of the latest fashions. Persis loves her long hair and wears elaborate outfits, but she also has no qualms about disguising herself as a man to complete her mission. She can fight and spy and still make a mean, stylish hairdo. She can laugh and make jokes while dealing with troubles at home, and she can entertain everyone with Slipstream’s tricks while she’s plotting the Wild Poppy’s next move. She’s versatile, three-dimensional, and a fantastic character.
Cynical Cindy Says
Flaws? There were flaws in this book? Okay, let me see…There were reappearances of some characters from the author’s previous book, For Darkness Shows the Stars, and at times, I felt like there was more focus on these characters than was needed. But, I’m sure fans of For Darkness Shows the Stars will love that part. :)
I love the original story, The Scarlet Pimpernel, and Across a Star-Swept Sea did it justice with little tributes to the original tale (the Daydream, anyone?) and adding amazing plot twists and creating brilliant new characters. Amazing and every bit as stunning as it’s cover, Across a Star Swept Sea is definitely a new favorite of mine!
5 out of 5 teacups
Have you read Across a Star-Swept Sea yet?