Sunday, October 12, 2014

Book Review: Perfect Ruin

Title: Perfect Ruin
Author: Lauren DeStefano
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Science Fiction


Protected by a forcefield of winds, Internment floats in the sky like a perfect bubble: innocent, sheltered, and safe. Who would ever want to leave?

Even so, thoughts of the ground fascinate Morgan Stockhour. She dreams of peering over the edge but knows that if she gets too close she'll be tempted to jump. That's what happened to her older brother, Lex. He lost his eyesight in a jump and has since grown cynical to the world.

Still, Internment is enough for Morgan, who has her best friend Pen and her betrothed Basil to keep her company. But when a girl her age named Daphne Leander is found brutally murdered on the train tracks, a series of troubling events cause Morgan's beautiful world to crack and shatter. There's no place to hide and no escaping this small enclosed community--or is there?


On the one hand, Perfect Ruin reads like a work of Dystopian fiction, with the seemingly perfect society hiding dark secrets that the heroine must either fight against or run from.  But if this is a Dystopia, it's the gentlest one I've ever read. The horror of a Dystopia is that an all-powerful regime crushes the individual's spirit and severs natural human relationships. I didn't get that here. Was Internment perfect? No. But it wasn't ruin, either.

To be honest, I kind of wanted to live there. The society was a comforting combination of old-fashioned ideals and modern conveniences. The worst aspects of it--like a controlled birthrate and mandatory fianc├ęs--could be explained by the limited land and resources. Even the "evil leaders" turned out to be surprisingly human.

I found myself liking the characters a lot. I enjoyed Morgan's whimsical thoughts, and I felt her strong bond with her family and friends. No one was perfect; the characters had weaknesses and the families had secret shames. But they genuinely cared for each other and I found them relatable and appealing.

It was good I liked the characters, because the book, while not slow, wasn't fast-paced either and did sometimes lack tension and suspense. For the longest time, the most interesting events seemed far-removed from Morgan, who was too small and insignificant to play much of a role in them. It wasn't until over halfway through the book, at what I call the honey incident, that bad things crashed into her: hard, fast, and personal. After that, I couldn't put the book down.

Hones, I thought this book a nice cup of tea and scones. Warm, cozy, sweet. But it was just adventurous enough to keep me entertained. I want to read more.

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