20 June 2014

Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano

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.

I enjoyed Lauren DeStefano's Chemical Garden trilogy, but there was something that kept me from engaging with Perfect Ruin on a visceral level, that level where I am fully immersed in the world and so in love with the characters that they keep playing in my head even after the book closes.  Perfect Ruin surprised me because there was very little of it that I enjoyed.  I began growing bored a little after a hundred pages in, and by the time I was three hundred pages in, I began skimming the pages.  Perfect Ruin did very little for me except try my patience.  

One of my biggest disappointments lay in the development of the main character.  In this case, Morgan was cookie cutter.  I didn't feel like she had any convictions or aspirations.  So when something big happened to her, whatever course of action she decided to take, I couldn't take her seriously.  It felt like she was a marionette performing to the whims of a puppeteer, not acting out of a deeply seeded sense of purpose.  I kept wondering why this character was involved in any of the plot's occurrences outside of the fact that this was supposed to be a story about her.  (Something, I learned, is called "character agency" -- something that Chuck Wendig writes very eloquently on here and something that Morgan completely lacks.)

Nothing about the development of the characters, or the unfolding of the plot, truly surprised me.  It all felt so typical.  None of it felt natural.  It had the jagged consistency of a fan fiction.  It was as if Lauren DeStefano didn't get to the heart of the story, but rather took the well-trodden paths, taking all the twists and turns that I expected, and didn't get down to brass tacks.

I was very disappointed in the writing here because there seemed to be a lack of well-executed craft.  I had enjoyed Lauren DeStefano's storytelling and writing style in her Chemical Garden trilogy.  But in this case, I saw many things that could've been improved in the story itself, and the writing was superficial at best, as if only showing a protective shell with something hidden just underneath the surface that was entrancing and uncomfortable and exhilarating.

I felt that this story had potential, even if the design of the world -- highly controlled, everything from births to deaths and marriages were decided for you, all ideas taken right out of The Giver -- lacked freshness.  There were threads of potential woven throughout the story.  Ultimately, however, they were veins left untapped.  The story might improve with the series, but I will not be continuing with it to find out.

Book Info
  • hardcover, 356
  • published - October 2013
  • publisher - Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
  • genre - dystopian
  • received via - library :)
  • rating - 2/5
  • series - Internment Chronicles
    • Perfect Ruin
    • Burning Kingdoms