I’ve complained about Jane Austen-inspired works in the past, namely that most of them seem to miss the point Austen was trying to make and SHE WROTE MORE THAN ONE BOOK. So, my interest was piqued when Diana Peterfreund announced this book. Post-apocalyptic Jane Austen retelling? Of Persuasion, of all things? I am intrigued. What I’m automatically loving about this book is that the post-apocalyptic society in this actually feels a lot more plausible than the vast majority. There’s no deep dark secret behind the set-up, there’s no evil overlords out to squash teenage hormones, there’s no rebellions. It’s just a story about a bittersweet romance that happens to take place after the end and that while there are changes happening in society, it’s more of the result of human progression, rather than uncovering vast conspiracies. Even the people who disapprove feel more like they’re criticizing the new world because society’s changing. I really like this, if only because this feels more like the natural human reaction to anything “new” and the times they are a’changing. Even the revelations that are supposed to be earth-shattering aren’t really in the larger context in this universe. I like this concept. It’s different from the endless uprisings and rebellions that have been so prevalent, and it’s nice to get something different once in a while.That said, I do have an issue with the fallout of the apocalypse in this verse, namely the Reduced. The idea that the “intelligent” people are in charge of the mentally retarded and treating like free labor does make me feel uncomfortable. Also not helping is that Elliot treats one girl in particular, Ro, like her own personal morality pet. However, most of the Luddites and Elliot get routinely called out for their attitudes and treatment of the Reduced. It’s not an ideal situation, but that it’s pointed out that there are massive flaws in the system is good. I like Elliot. First of all, she’s genuinely questioning the limitations of her society, not because she wants to rebel and be special, but the circumstances have driven her to find new methods. She’s got a whole estate on her shoulders with a frivolous family, and a hard winter is coming. And I like that Elliot’s experiments are largely the result of basic genetic manipulation. And yet she still doubts if what she’s doing is right. Elliot manages to be proud without being a bitch or too haughty, and when she does, it’s only under certain circumstances. Kai is certainly the dashing gentleman snarker, but I think it takes the book a little too long into making him more sympathetic. There is a very strong sense of betrayal still lingering, but it works with the lifetime of prejudice that Kai’s dealt with. I also love that we get to see Kai and Elliot’s relationship build through a series of interspersed letters from when they were children, up to Kai’s disappearance. It gives enough of the backstory without feeling too info-dumpy and does a good job of illustrating the prejudices and the classism.The supporting cast is good. Like I said, I do have issues with most of the Reduced and Post-Reduced characters of the North estate, mainly that they really feel like they exist to be there for Elliot to take care of. The Phoenix siblings are initially aloof and hard to warm up to, but once they get more of their backstory explained, and their prejudices (Andromeda’s, particularly) are lessened, they’re very strong characters. (Also, I love Andromeda, she’s awesome.) I love the Innovations, as they’re probably the most complex characters, even with the few details that are revealed about them. I also really liked the Groves, especially Olivia. She does start off a bratty clingy jealous girl, but she turns out to be very sweet and just a little too naïve. And I also really liked how well the Regency principles fit into this society. It’s not as restrictive as proper Regency society, but the isolation of the different Luddite families and the pageantry of the upper classes really fits well. It works very well into the expectation that Elliot and her sister are expected to marry rather than inherit the various estates. As I’ve been saying, this is not the action-packed dystopia that’s found on so many YA shelves (mine included), but rather a very introspective love story that happens to take place in a post-apocalyptic society. That’s the reason why I really enjoyed this book. It’s well-written and it’s got a sweeping romance. It’s a breath of fresh air in a very trendy setting, and I highly recommend checking it out.