Title: Perfect Ruin
Author: Lauren DeStefano
Book #: 1st of Trilogy
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publish Date: October 1st 2013
Date Read: November 15th 2013
Rating: ★★★★ / out of 5
Below us, is the ground just a larger version of what we have up here? Is there a bigger train that goes in a bigger circle? Do the people on the ground also fear stepping over their edge? What if there's a bigger ground below them? What if everything is floating in the sky?
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. Secrets lay at the heart of Internment, but nothing can prepare Morgan for what she will find — or who she will lose.
(Synopsis taken from Goodreads)
I honestly just have no words. The amount of progress this author made from her first series to this second, new one is unbelievable Here, DeStefano has completely rewritten herself as potentially one of my all time favorite authors.
Since my thoughts are mostly going to be positive, I'm going to dish out the bad news, first: There are still plot holes.
The main problem I had with the Wither was that it contained a major plot hole, one that really disagreed with the entire story itself. I applaud DeStefano now, though, for while there are still plot holes in Perfect Ruin, they are minor and don't really cause too much conflict.
Mostly, the plot holes are small things like, for example: The people of Internment studying the life on the ground to advance their technologies, including their knowledge of how to set wires underground and using indoor plumbing, yet they are not allowed to create a scope advanced enough to see people on the ground.
Morgan was a pretty decent protagonist, and when I say that I mean she is likeable. I wouldn't say that she is rolemodel like, because she wasn't very tough, or strong, or sure of herself. She was flawed, and she was a dreamer. She is not satisfied with now knowing, and questions her life and the life of people on the ground.
"Even if we do make it to the ground," I say, "who's to say it's any better? What if there's another king no less corrupt than ours? Or what if the ground is just another city floating of an even bigger one, and so on?"
"Then at least we'll be the wiser," she says. "I'd rather be disappointed than oblivious."
I think that's why I liked her, though. Her voice really added unique sound to the writing style. Her persistence to know these things, though, is what eventually causes life as she knows it to crumble. But I like that she didn't know. There are so many things that she is unaware of, and us too, for the most part, and as she learns them, we do, as well.
Then, of course, we have Pen, the best friend, and Basil, the love interest. Both, I felt, were great characters. Basil and caring and supportive, and so if Pen, but she is also strongly rooted in her believes that Internment is enough. As we get through the book, we learn about the personal demons that each of these characters are fighting, and it helped me to really see them as people, and not just being "there." We see how deep their relationships lie, and I know I will be devastated if anything happens to them in the books to come.
Now, Morgan's family is quite similar. Again, we have these relationships among characters that just feel so palpable and real. We don't really see too much of her father and mother, but what we hear about them through glimpses into her past, and through words shared between her and her brother, their love for their children is not nonexistent. What we mostly see are the ties that bind Morgan to her bother, Lex, and her sister in law, Alice. These three are always there looking after each other and we see some very tender moments occur between them.
The other, less focused on characters, including the rebels and the villains were, again I thought, well developed. We see, at first, how things appear to be a certain way and then how they are actually not how they seem at all. Especially after the conclusion of the book, I am looking forward to seeing how our current group of characters will react to their current circumstance.
I think this is what got me the most. Despite those little plot holes, I found the story to be absolutely intriguing. And the world building is beautiful and fantastic. What I enjoy most, though, beyond the superbly realistic feeling added to the story that make life on this rock a fantasy yet also completely believable, is the fact that we still don't know how and why Internment came to be.
Yes, as I have seen other's point out, it gets a little sloppy towards the second half, but I also found that at that point I was flying through the book even faster than I was before. There is never really a point where it is made definite that the characters are going to find a way to leave Internment, but the idea of it is also not abolished. Through those last chapters, I found myself wondering, at which point will the book end? Will they make it off? Will they be caught just before? I think the author did a great job with her ending, though I could kill because of that cliff-hanger!
The Writing Style:
I normally don't talk specifically just about the writing in a book. Normally, I will briefly mention either how much I either enjoyed it or how much I did not. But, in the case of this book, I really just want to dedicate a bit more of my time to really appreciate the beauty in the words of this book.
There was one phrase that I was not to fond of:
Her burden of eyelashes (page 105)I don't know why, but this just didn't agree with me. Looking beyond that one line, though, we get passages like this:
The evening sun catches every bold and scrap of metal on the train, and for an instance we are suspended in an atmosphere of stars.
The lake is serene.
It cases a flawless reflection of the stars, as though it isn't a lake at all, but a hole in the city itself.
Who decides what is good and what is bad? Who decides what is saved and what is lost from our souls?
In my fully honestly opinion, the writing in this book just as good as the writing I admire in the books in The Raven Cycle and the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series.
Overall, I am immensely satisfied with this first book in what seems to be a very promising new series.
I stare at the edge of my desk and imagine it's the end of my little world.
I could imagine such great and impossible things there. Things I didn't have words for.
The madness of youth made me unafraid.
I close my eyes, trying to pretend that I'm blind, trying to understand what it means to be in this world without seeing any of it, now knowing where anyone is, if they're safe.
The only one who could quell this restlessness was Alice, always Alice, who swears she was born already in love with him.
We're both trying to quiet out laughter so as not to disrupt the solemn mood of the train.
"Is this what passes for romance between you two?" Pen says.
"Yes," I say. "And we like it this way, don't we, Basil?"
"Quite," he says.
Every star has been set in the sky. We mistakenly think they were put there for us.
"But those are intangible," Basil says. "Spiritual. What I mean is, what if there's more land up there? What if there are people living on the stars?"
I don't know why this makes me feel at peace. Like everything is connected in some way, that humans are just that, whether they're on the ground or in the sky, and that we all belong to the same greater something.
Sometimes Pen destroys her art, and when I see the crumpled pages enter the recycling tube, I feel that a piece of her is gone forever.
"Nothing is infinite," Pen says.
"How do you know something that doesn't exist to be known?"
"Forget who are you are and what you think is there, and you'll discover things that don't exist to be known."
She is everything I've grown up waiting to be, and as the sunset steals through the curtains, it sets her hair ablaze with auburns and golds. She's unbreakable.
I lean against her and she wraps her arms around me. "Oh, Morgan," she sighs. "What's to be done?"
We've always been alike, Alice and I. We're fixers and messengers and helpers, and when things are greater than we can manage, we can't rest until all is right again.
Plenty of rules are laid out for us in our history book. They were discovered by first being broken.
She loves my brother entirely, even the parts of him he'd like to forget.
"I'll be a mapmaker by then," she says, "penning maps by candlelight until all hours. Maybe I'll turn irrational. But not the bumbling, stupid irrational. The quiet sort, whispering things to glass jars as through they'll hold my secrets. No one will ever know."
But I've learned not to take stock in what people say.
I've seen no proof, only words, but words can be powerful. Words can be what puts a boy to death.
He knows that I'm not like other girls- the normal ones- that part of me is slipping off this floating city, and he doesn't care. He doesn't care.
Maybe we're both beyond saving.
Love should be a staple in our history book. Wasn't it an act of love when the god of the sky chose to keep us? Isn't love what makes living bearable, and unbearable?
"But we aren't ghosts," he says.
"No," I say. "Not for a log time."
"Sixty years," he says.
"A thousand," I counter, and tug him by the collar until he's kissing me, and everything we believe is true, and everything in the world is ours.
"We didn't make ourselves," she says. "We aren't the greatest things to exist. I can't believe that. I won't believe that. We have too many faults."
Death is the end of some things. Not everything.
I think of the white, frozen dust that falls from the clouds and covers the ground. How green and new the world must be when the sun melts it all away.
We accept gods that don't speak to us. We accept gods that 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.
Please, he's said.
"Please," he says now.
I'm a little girl in the trees. I can't find the footholds to return down to him. I can't go back to that day and undo it.
I'm sorry. I didn't want to hurt you. I'm sorry.
They'll find pieces of a girl who followed the rules.
That girl is now gone.
I love you.
Is this what love means? That the rules aren't the reason you stay together?
There's a bright moon tonight, split to pieces by branches. It's an organ with veins and arteries. A non-beating heart. If there's a god at all, he's dead in his sky.
He won't ever stop searching for her, even if they tell him she's dead. But that search will be fruitless, and Pen knows it. When she thinks I'm not watching, her lips move.
"I'm sorry," is what they say.
"But we must be brave, remember?"
Free will isn't quite the same as freedom.
We are taught that curiosity is a thing to be feared. But our first trains came from curious minds. As did medicine, and clocks, and first kisses.
Her hair is full of icy wind and daylight. She is every princess, every queen, in the history book. In this instant, I don't see a bratty princess, but rather I see greatness in her.
She doesn't bother with the ladder. She turns to face the strange world beyond the door, and she jumps.
1. What do you make of the religious aspect of the book? Are you on the side that believes there will be spiritual powers at work to keep Internment in the sky, or do you think there must be a science behind it?
2. Do you for-see a love triangle coming on between Basil, Judas and Morgan?
On My Goodreads: