Thursday, November 7, 2013

Review: Perfect Ruin

Perfect Ruin
Author: Lauren DeStefano
Published: October 1, 2013
Hardcover, 356 pages
5 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

On Internment, the floating island in the clouds where 16-year-old Morgan Stockhour lives, getting too close to the edge can lead to madness. Even though Morgan's older brother, Lex, was a Jumper, Morgan vows never to end up like him. She tries her best not to mind that her life is orderly and boring, and if she ever wonders about the ground, and why it is forbidden, she takes solace in best friend Pen and her betrothed, Basil.

Then a murder, the first in a generation, rocks the city. With whispers swirling and fear on the wind, Morgan can no longer stop herself from investigating, especially when she meets Judas. He is the boy being blamed for the murder — betrothed to the victim — but Morgan is convinced of his innocence. Secrets lay at the heart of Internment, but nothing can prepare Morgan for what she will find — or who she will lose.

There are stories that you read where the setting is a character all on its own. Stories that whisk you off to a faraway land. Some of these lands are wonderful places where dreams come true, but others may look beautiful and magical from the outside, but inside they are no different than ours. Internment, a city in the sky, is a perfectly run community. A train keeps everyone inside and people know not to go to the edge. Those who go to the edge never come back the same, if they come back at all. Morgan is content not knowing about what's over the edge. She is excited to start her adult life with her betrothed, Basil, But when a girl ends up murdered, suddenly life on Internment is not as magical as it once was. There are lockdowns, rumours, and more murders. Suddenly the edge doesn't seem so bad after all.

DeStefano has proven her ability to create dystopian societies. Her Chemical Garden trilogy drew a picture of a world where everyone dies young and a girl fighting to change that. Her characters are strong and curious, eager to know why things are the way they are. Morgan is no different. She is a dreamer fighting the urge to do what her older brother did, find the edge and try to leave Internment. Through her eyes, we see how she first feels about Internment: safe, happy, free. After the murders and attempts on her family's lives, the only thing she wants to do is leave. The character development is solid. The first half of the book reads like a life, day to day activities that seem mundane but all have hidden meanings. Internments is magical, a city in the sky claimed by the Gods to create a new, better society. When people start to doubt the Gods, the city turns to shambles and the only way Morgan can be save is to leave the island. 

The wonderful thing about this book is the way the words flow through the pages. Morgan's voice is almost old fashioned and the subtle look of things on Internment creates a picture so clear in my mind. Simple hints of steampunk turns what could be an ordinary city into an illusion of greatness. Each year, Internment has a Festival of Stars, where each resident puts a wish on a wishing tree as a prayer to the Gods. This simple tradition makes Internment what it is and reminds us that they are on a floating city high above the clouds, far from anything else. I was drawn to Internment, wishing I too could live up in the stars, but as the story went on and Morgan discovered more about the place she was living, I understood why she would want to leave. When there is that hope of something more, something different, we as humans have an instinct to explore it. When the ground suddenly seems like the only choice, it's no wonder Morgan takes the opportunity to find it.

This book was the perfect beginning to a new series. I know the next book will be completely different, but I'm excited to see where DeStefano takes these characters and how they survive after what they've already been through. She has a fantastic ability to take readers into a magical world, make us fall in love with it, and that turn it into something we dread. Either way, I'll still look up into the sky and dream of a city high above the clouds where you can see the stars up close. 

“We accept gods that don't speak to us. We accept gods that would place us in a world filled with injustices and do nothing as we struggle. It's easier than accepting that there's nothing out there at all, and that, in our darkest moments, we are truly alone.” 

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