A post-apocalyptic retelling of Jane Austen's Persuasion scores high for ingenuity but loses points with sledgehammer morality.
Elliot North is a Luddite, one of the elite destined to care for the mentally Reduced remnant after human genetic engineering went catastrophically wrong. But she has begun to question her duty; her family seems more interested in luxurious leisure than estate management. Her people will starve without recourse to forbidden technology, and more and more Post-Reduced children are being born. None of these "Posts" are more clever than Kai, her best friend until he ran away four years ago. Now he has returned with the fleet of Post explorers who could be the last hope for saving Elliot's heritage, but his bitterness toward Elliot may be hiding a more dangerous secret. The plot stays surprisingly faithful to Austen; the setting is cleverly updated to a futuristic dystopia, but it fails to explore the more interesting societal and technological ramifications. Instead, the original's subtle delineation of the nuances of class and social change is replaced with heavy-handed condemnations of slavery, anti-intellectualism and fundamentalist religion. The protagonists are now barely 18, and the compressed timeframe makes their remarkable accomplishments implausible, even with nigh-magical nanotechnology. However, as the emotional drama is similarly ramped to extremes, the target audience may be too swept away by righteous indignation and swoony romance to notice any lapses of logic.
A perfectly pleasant read on its own, this could send readers to investigate the source—a happy outcome indeed. (Dystopian romance. 13 & up)