Across a Star-Swept Sea

Across a Star-Swept Sea

4.8 11
by Diana Peterfreund

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Centuries after wars nearly destroyed civilization, the two islands of New Pacifica stand alone, a paradise where even the Reduction—the devastating brain disorder that sparked the wars—is a distant memory. Yet on the island of Galatea, an uprising against the aristocracy has turned deadly. The revolutionaries' weapon is a drug that damages their

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Centuries after wars nearly destroyed civilization, the two islands of New Pacifica stand alone, a paradise where even the Reduction—the devastating brain disorder that sparked the wars—is a distant memory. Yet on the island of Galatea, an uprising against the aristocracy 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 neighboring Albion, no one suspects that the Wild Poppy is actually famously frivolous teenage aristocrat Persis Blake. 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.

Justen is hiding things, too—his disenchantment with his country's revolution, his undeniable attraction to the silly socialite he's pretending to love. Persis is also falling for Justen, but when she discovers his greatest secret—one that could plunge New Pacifica into another dark age—she realizes she's not just risking her heart, she's risking the world she's sworn to protect.

Inspired by The Scarlet Pimpernel, Across a Star-Swept Sea is a thrilling adventure in which nothing is as it seems and two teens from different worlds must fight for a future only they dare to imagine.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Peterfreund (For Darkness Shows the Stars) dips into the classics again, this time mining The Scarlet Pimpernel for deeds of derring-do. The spy is Persis Blake, 16 and chief lady-in-waiting to the ruling princess of the island of Albion. Her parents conveniently distracted, Persis is free to quit school, spend unlimited money on her wardrobe (and disguises), and flit from party to peril, all while pretending to be “Albion’s loveliest, silliest socialite.” Her true cause is rescuing tortured aristocrats from the revolution gripping the neighboring island of Galatea. But on one expedition, the “Wild Poppy” returns with an unexpected refugee: Justen Helo, grandson of the most famous doctor on Galatea, gifted medic, and revolutionary. Such a celebrity must naturally be feted at court, where the risk he will uncover the Wild Poppy’s double life is dangerously high. The story teeters into hyperbole at times, and the political debates and info-dumps can grow tedious. Still, it’s a charming bit of light adventure, and the chance to revisit the elaborate world Peterfreund created in For Darkness is welcome. Ages 13–up. Agent: Deidre Knight, the Knight Agency. (Oct.)
VOYA - Katie Mitchell
With frangipani-colored hair and flirtatious ways, Persis is one of the most popular debutantes in Albion's society. The best friend of the Princess Regent, Persis appears to live a life of decadent splendor. Very few people know that she is actually a secret spy named the Wild Poppy. Making life-threatening trips across the border to neighboring Galatea, she has been rescuing aristos and regs who were being punished for their social status with medically induced brain damage. The League of the Wild Poppy is thrown into turmoil with the appearance of Justen Helo, a Galatean revolutionary that has soured on his country's course of action. Although they come from warring parties, both teens are attempting to change their countries' futures, and it appears they can only do that with each other's help. Inspired by The Scarlet Pimpernel, Across A Star-Swept Sea places the mysterious spy adventure in a lush and terrifying futuristic world. The Galatean use of Reduction, brain damage through medicine, is eerily realistic, as is the Darkening (DAR), a dementia that is acquired by the Helo cure for Reduction. Persis fears for her Darkened mother, while Justen tries valiantly to complete his grandmother's research to reverse DAR. Their attempts to not fall in love have a sweetness caused by two very likable and well-developed characters. This imagining of Earth's future is a fascinating stand-alone but also a solid companion to For Darkness Shows The Stars (Balzer + Bray, 2012/ Voya April 2012). Reviewer: Katie Mitchell
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Persis is an airhead aristo who cares only for the latest styles and tending to her queen—or is she? The Wild Poppy is a renegade who rescues enslaved aristos from the clutches of revolutionaries—or is he? In truth, they are one and the same. The novel follows the adventures of Persis and "the league" as they attempt to right the wrongs inflicted by Galatean revolutionaries upon society. Persis might have carried on at the same pace—socialite by day, spy by night—if her path hadn't crossed with Justen's. He is grandson to the famous Persistence Helo, inventor of a treatment that saved many from suffering "reduction," but also proved to have unintended side effects. Once Justen enters Persis's life, seemingly remorseful for the dark direction taken by his people and ready to make things right, she is unsure if she can trust him. As she wrestles with her simultaneous distrust and growing admiration for him, all the while continuing her mission as the Wild Poppy, adventure and intrigue unfold. Persis's well-drawn world is one of genetically engineered pets and communication methods called palmports that require users to take supplements to sustain their functionality. It provides the backdrop for a well-paced story led by a strong and likable heroine. Readers will relish its tender moments, especially one shared by Persis and Justen in a star-swept cove, as much as its abundant moments of suspense.—Jill Heritage Maza, Montclair Kimberley Academy, Montclair, NJ
Kirkus Reviews
Peterfreund follows up her post-apocalyptic version of Persuasion (For Darkness Shows the Stars, 2012) with a gender-flipped Scarlet Pimpernel. On a Pacific island in a high-tech future, 16-year-old Persis Blake seems the epitome of a lady: beautiful, charming, stylish…shallow and stupid. The Wild Poppy, her alter ego, is clever, courageous and noble, crossing the sea to rescue aristos imprisoned by the tyrannical revolution. Dashing young medic Justen Helo claims to have turned against the revolution that betrayed his family's legacy--but can Persis trust him with her secret? Beneath the science-fiction veneer, the plot follows its source almost beat for beat, sacrificing some swashbuckling and suspense for lush scene-setting, secondary character development and a large dose of teen angst. The interplay between appearance and reality runs throughout: If the Poppy is a master of deception, every other player also wears masks, and everyone fails to look beneath the surface. Most, interestingly, are female, and while the different paths available for women to pursue heroism (and villainy) are subtly examined, the portrayal of their friendships shines. The narrative also raises thoughtful questions about class and gender bias, but it ultimately shrugs off the ramifications; feudalism is fine if the lords are nice enough, and though everybody rails against sexism, no one actively bothers to challenge it. While this title stands alone, cameos from the previous tale will please fans. A good bet for readers looking for strong female protagonists, characters of color or just an enjoyable romantic adventure with a science-fiction spin--especially if they haven't read the original. (Science fiction. 12 & up)
Beth Revis
Praise for FOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS: “Diana Peterfreund’s For Darkness Shows the Stars is an impassioned ode to Jane Austen, love, and the hope found in stars.”
Laini Taylor
Praise for FOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS: “Don’t you love it when a brilliant idea meets with brilliant execution? Thank you, Diana Peterfreund for giving us a post-apocalyptic Persuasion. This book is meltingly good.”
Simone Elkeles
Praise for FOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS: “A beautiful, epic love story you won’t be able to put down!”
Robin Wasserman
Praise for FOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS: “A smart and sexy tale of star-crossed love that’s as thought-provoking as it is heartbreaking.”
Allie Condie
“Across a Star-Swept Sea is, like its main character Persis Blake, a delight. Intrigue, romance, beautiful world-building, nuanced characters, and timely, intriguing questions come together to make this the perfect read. I loved it!”
Lauren Willig
“An imaginative and energetic retelling of The Scarlet Pimpernel—sheer fun!”
Cinda Williams Chima
“Delicious romance, class warfare, and genetic engineering—Diana Peterfreund will ensnare you with this sci-fi twist to a classic story.”
Romantic Times
“Peterfreund’s novel is riveting and intense...Readers will love this page-turning story and its dramatic climax.”
“Engrossing and fastpaced.”
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“Complex in both plotting and themes, this science fiction revision of The Scarlet Pimpernel offers political intrigue, narrow escapes, and forbidden romance”
Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA) (Starred Review)
“[A] mysterious spy adventure in a lush and terrifying futuristic world”

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Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.60(d)
850L (what's this?)
Age Range:
13 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Diana Peterfreund is the author of many books for adults and children, including the critically acclaimed For Darkness Shows the Stars and Across a Star-Swept Sea. She lives with her family outside Washington, DC, in a house full of bookshelves, and is always on the lookout for lost cities or stray rocket ships.

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