Sometimes (Bridget Jones, Clueless, Bride & Prejudice), the new stories and movies that are based on her stuff are fun and worthy of a comparison to the original.
And sometimes (Austenland, Death Comes to Pemberley, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies), they aren’t great, but we don’t mind that much, because we love the original so much.
And yes, sometimes they are terrible (The Trials of the Honorable F Darcy comes to mind).
And yet, I keep on reading them.
This one falls in to the worthy category, thankfully. I picked it up at my new, favorite, local book shop, and the book was sitting right out front (I found out that Peterfreund is a local author), with a gold star on it that said, “A delightful take on Jane Austen’s Persuasion set in a post-apocalyptic future”. I couldn’t give them my money fast enough. Persuasion is my favorite Austen book, and my favorite movie. Captain Wentworth is my favorite Austen hero. What could possibly go wrong here??
Very little, it turns out. FDSTS (my new, clever acronym) takes place in what seems to be New Zealand, far in the future. The world has been mostly destroyed (or has it?), after a war between The Reduced and The Luddites, causing almost the entire global population to be wiped out. The Reduced were the majority of the population — they had discovered ways to enhance their DNA, to create super-humans. But their tinkering backfired on them, creating generations of humans with little speech, slow reactions, and few options in life. The Luddites were those who resisted the DNA manipulations, and technology, in general. Their faith and religion left them to believe that they were as God meant them to be, and that was good enough. Now the Luddites rule what is left of civilization, but The Reduced working the land and serving The Luddites. And now there’s a third group to contend with, The Posts (post-reduced), children of Reduced who are born without any defects, who are normal.
Young Elliot North is a Luddite who has grown up on a large estate, basically running it after her mother’s death. Her father is unable to manage their money or their land (he mows over an entire year’s crop of wheat to build a horse racing track), and her sister only cares about gossip and clothes. And Elliot is heartbroken. She has been in love with Kai for her entire life. Kai is a Post who lived on her estate — he was a mechanic and he was her best friend. But Kai left a few years ago, and he left her on bad terms.
Of course, Kai (now Captain Malakai Wentworth) comes back to Elliot, as anyone who knows Persuasion could figure out. And of course, they work out their differences. The story varies very little from the original, which is absolutely fine by me. Diana Peterfreund has created a world and characters that were interesting enough to stand on their own.
I’m curious to see what happens next (there seem to be a series of books based in this world). I’m not 100% convinced that New Zealand is all that’s left out there, and would like to know what Wentworth and the rest of his crew will find when they sail off on their exploration.
And with that, I’m off to watch Persuasion on my iPad.