Book: Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano
Series: The Internment Chronicles #1
Genres: YA, Dystopia
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Publication Date: October 1st 2013
Synopsis (from Goodreads): On the floating city of Internment, you can be anything you dream, unless you approach the edge. Morgan Stockhour knows getting too close can lead to madness, like her older brother Lex, a Jumper. She takes solace in her best friend Pen, and in Basil, the boy she’s engaged to marry. When she investigates the first murder in a generation, she meets Judas. The suspect was betrothed to the victim, but Morgan believes he is innocent. Nothing can prepare Morgan for the secrets she will find – or whom she will lose.
Thoughts: The more I thought about this book, the less I liked it. While the concept of a floating city was a promising premise, the execution fell flat in more ways than one. For starters, I just didn’t care about any of the characters. Our protagonist and narrator, Morgan, has zero personality; I often caught myself just trying to remember her name. The book makes a great deal of effort trying to portray her as a good girl turned admirable rebel, but I was unconvinced. If I had to choose, Pen would probably be my favorite character, even despite her naiveté. While I didn’t necessarily dislike any of the characters, I was completely indifferent towards them.
On top of the lack of character development, the love stories were unbelievable. Despite being forcibly paired up at birth, Morgan and Basil are conveniently in love with each other anyway. Also, their romance primarily plays out on repetitive train sequences that involve a lot of romantically charged skin-brushes and almost-kisses.
Pen’s love-hate relationship with her betrothed is only slightly more dynamic, yet still rings of unrealistic contentment. Although she constantly acts as though she can’t stand Thomas’s presence, we’re still expected to believe that she actually does love him, merely because he’s hers. Lex and Alice also have a perfect love story; however, Lex’s condition and its strain on their marriage renders their relationship the most realistic. While the book attempts to reveal that Internment is in fact not perfect, it fails to represent the governmentally arranged betrothals as anything but so.
One element of the book that I thought was done well was the placement of Daphne Leander’s essay fragments at the beginning of each chapter; they were the most well-written sequences and provided meaningful context. The plot was what kept me reading despite the book’s other shortcomings, mainly because I was hoping the story would go somewhere. Unfortunately, for every plot twist that I didn’t predict, there were a handful of others that I did. There were maybe two major things that I didn’t see coming, but everything else was painfully unsurprising.
Bottom line: Perfect Ruin is predictable. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t like it either. Maybe I’ll pick up the second installment just for kicks, but I doubt it.