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
Source: purchased
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.


  1. I just had a similar experience with a review book. The first 2/3 of it was slow and boring but the last 1/3 was amazing. I had SUCH a hard time rating it! I looove the cover of Perfect Ruin. SO PRETTY!

  2. Yikes! These types of books are always the toughest for me (and also the reason I have such a hard time with DNF'ing!). They make me so angry because you feel like you've wasted precious time BUT there's always the promise that it gets better. And then when it does, you feel somewhat validated but also annoyed that it wasn't on from the get go. And regarding your comment about pretty prose... as much as I can appreciate it, you're absolutel right. Pretty prose can only take you so far. At the end of the day you have to care about the characters. You need to feel invested in what happens to them, otherwise, what's the point?! I'll probably skip this one, however, I'll be anxiously awaiting your thoughts on Book #2!

  3. Oh my. I'll keep this review in mind when I get to read Perfect Ruin so I don't DNF it too early. I'm super curious about this twist though. The cover made me want this book and the synopsis had me excited, and your review has me super curious!

    -P.E. @ The Sirenic Codex


    A friend of mine is going to loan me her copy of this which will save me from spontaneously buying it, which I was SO CLOSE to doing before you read it. I know we aren't always identical in our thoughts but I trust your opinion, because you're so level-headed in your reviews. And that prose. Pretty but COULD get old reading it. I'm curious if I'll care about Morgan at all or not. Hmmm.

  5. Gah, I hate when this happens. It sounds like the ending was amazeballs though, so that's good! I still wanna read this, but it's gonna be a library read for sure!

  6. Lol, I agree, it was boring until the end, but the end was such an unexpected twist, I was kind of thrown off by it. I actually liked the romance, because I feel like it opens up more room for DeStefano to work the other aspects of the next two books without focusing on developing a romance... Well thats what I hope happens anyway. Great review!

  7. lol, great review Gillian. <3 I'm sorry you had so much trouble with the beginning :( I actually really loved it, but I do understand why you didn't :) But ohh, glad you liked the ending :D

  8. Ohhhh, these are such hard books to rate! Because it's such a shame if it took the author so long to make it really interesting. It always makes me wonder why the rest of the story wasn't as good as that twist..


  9. Oooh, what happened to the main character? I might want this one spoiled for me. If it's exciting enough I might even add this to my to-read list, and you know how I feel about that.


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