Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Review: Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano
Review: Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano
Release date: October 8th, 2013
Publisher: Simon & Shuster
Series: Yes, #1 in the Internment Chronicles
Rating: Blah and boring for 200 pages, and then the ending is amazing. HOW DO I RATE THAT?
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.
What an odd thing this book was. I was all set to give it two stars and a shrug. I was even flirting with a DNF at one point. But because I purchased it, and it happens to be the prettiest book in all the land, I persevered. The beginning of this book is unbelievably boring, despite the stellar world-building, occasionally gorgeous (and occasionally silly) writing, and brilliant concept. Morgan Stockhour, our main character AND our viewpoint character, has about as much personality as a toenail. Simply put, not very much happens, or the same thing happens over and over, or all the cardboard characters have long cardboard conversations with one another.
And then, all of a sudden, a hundred pages from the end, things happen. Damn you book.
Perfect Ruin is set on Internment, a utopian floating city in the sky completely isolated from the ground. It is its own unique universe with unique rules, the key of which is to avoid the edge and all thoughts of what might be below. I give DeStefano all the credit in the world for the original way she executed Internment and the intricacies of life on a city "the size of the king's fist". But oh, was most of this book a slog. And it shouldn't have been, considering that there was an attempt at plotting. There's a murder and a fire and mysterious things. Too bad none of that was made remotely exciting, mostly because Morgan is about as scintillating as a pancake (wait. No. Pancakes are fascinating. I LOVE PANCAKES. Wait, what was I talking about?).
Seriously. It took me 200 pages to care about Morgan, and that is 200 pages too many. We're told she's a daydreamer, she's imaginative, blah blah. Whatever. The only characters with any personality were Pen, her best friend, and Lex, her elder brother, who is a "jumper" or one who has approached the edge. Couldn't Pen have been the main character? I loved her. And Lex deals with loving people by shouting at them and telling them to leave him alone, so obviously I loved him best.
The romance. Oh my god. Blaaaaaaaaaaaah. In Internement, children are engaged from birth, so Morgan is betrothed to this boy named Basil and snorrrrrrrrrre. Really, is there meant to be a love triangle? I could not figure out her connection to Judas, who is suspected of murdering his betrothed, but who Morgan just knows is innocent. She just knows it. Um, I only know it because I know you're a character in a book, and books have twists, Morgan. What's your reasoning?
DeStefano writes in lush but often lifeless prose that sometimes caused me to roll my eyes ("she lifted her burden of eyelashes"). Every now and then I would stop and marvel at a particularly gorgeous passage or phrase, but none of that impressed me until I started to car about the characters. I read for connections, not just prose, and sometimes prose that exceptional coupled with flat characters can be pretty distancing.
Also, DeStefano has an incredibly annoying habit of leaving in a lot of "he says" and "she says" and "I say". So many of those should have been edited out. When her writing was on, though, it was on.
"Ghosts aren't terrible," he says. "They aren't real. They're a fantasy we've concocted to tell ourselves this life isn't the only one we get. Even at their worst, ghosts are doing us some good."
But then... all of a sudden... I got super invested. Why? Because DeStefano DID SOMETHING. DIRECTLY TO THE MAIN CHARACTER. The shitteth hath hitteth the fan! Eth! Morgan got an infusion of personality, the story got an infusion of plot, and stuff went down, yo. It sucks that the only good stuff is the stuff I can't talk about, as it is majorly spoilerrific, but the ending is really, really, really good. Shockingly good. Why couldn't the rest of the book have been that good??? Now I'm even more annoyed by the blah beginning.
So yes, obviously I need the second book, and I'm sure it will be an identical experience, but... I must know what happens!! CURSE YOU, DESTEFANO.