Review: “Perfect Ruin” by Lauren DeStefano

17339241Title: “Perfect Ruin”

Author: Lauren DeStefano

Publication Date: October 1, 2013 (S&SFYR – North America)

Genre: YA, dystopian/utopian, mystery, AWESOME

Source: Publisher-provided ARC

Summary: 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.

☆: 5/5 stars – an absolute knock out of the park for DeStefano, sealing her fame in the YA canon!

Review: Wow. If you guys thought the “Chemical Garden” trilogy was good, “Perfect Ruin” will absolutely knock your socks off. DeStefano has improved in her craft so much, it was almost as if it were someone else writing – though it did have her familiar prose landmarks here and there. “Perfect Ruin” is the question of the divide between dystopia and utopia, and whether the two really can be the same thing, or if they’re just two sides of the same coin. Can humans as they are now (or at least, by the time Internment exists) really create a fair utopia for all? “Perfect Ruin” delves into these questions and more with a murder mystery and a curiosity that may destroy all of these characters. Absolutely gorgeous, even if you haven’t read the previous trilogy, this is one 2013 release that simply cannot be missed.

Instead of a terrible dystopia like we saw in the previous trilogy, “Perfect Ruin” is the picture of the perfect civilization as DeStefano sees it – all with the deliciously dark lure of “the edge” – literally, the edge of Internment, where you can see down to the ground. Internment floats above it, and though we don’t know where we are in our current history as we know it, it’s obvious that Interment is far in our future with the small clues DeStefano drops throughout the book, after a catastrophic natural event that heaves a large chunk of ground into the sky – not unlike the real life Second Extinction event that gave us our moon. I loved all of these compact little hints, telling us how old not only the culture of Internment is, but possibly how old Internment itself is. These geographical details really enriched the world, along with the tiny hints of backstory that we know are coming in future books.

The worldbuilding: if you’ve read the past trilogy, you know that DeStefano is amazing when it comes to worldbuilding. “Perfect Ruin” is no exception, using the relationship web school of worldbuilding this time to link our main cast together, along with linking our main cast through backstory to the murder mystery at hand – an act that is very rare on Internment. Through some big reveals that happen through this relationship web and general backstory hints and tidbits that come tumbling down onto the reader (much like how Internment starts to unravel around our main cast) in delicious, small bites. The sensory imagery and language was glorious, and I wanted to wallow in it. I had to force myself to read slowly, because I just wanted to know the answer, to know the whodunnit. At the end, I’m still not entirely sure we got our answer, but we do get an absolutely explosive climax and resolution that has me salivating heavily for book two.

The characters: even the most minor of the main cast are richly detailed through the relationship web tactic that DeStefano uses to not only construct the world but really weave the tale closely and tightly with backstory, current story, murder mystery, and the allure of the edge to those who want more from the tiny island of Internment than it can give them. Morgan, Lex, Judas, and the rest of the main cast, through their foibles and follies, give us one of the most sympathetic tales I’ve read in YA that’s fantasy in years, no matter how beautiful Internment is, or how unbelievable it may be. Absolutely stellar.

Final verdict? Even if you may not have clicked with her previous trilogy, you guys simply cannot miss “Perfect Ruin”. DeStefano has grown so much, and I love it when I can track an author’s growth like that. “Perfect Ruin” is out October 1, 2013 from Simon & Schuster FYR in North America, so definitely check it out when you get a chance. It’s on my best of 2013 list for a reason.


2 thoughts on “Review: “Perfect Ruin” by Lauren DeStefano

  1. Okay, thanks to your review, I need to find a way to get my hands on a copy of this novel.
    I loved The Chemical Garden trilogy, and am surprised to read that her writing style is so different. I loved the style of that trilogy, so I am hoping that it’s still reminiscent of the style that I loved so much.
    I think the concept of this book sounds so intriguing, and unique. I love the questions regarding utopia, and dystopia, and how they may be two sides of the one coin. They are, and it just depends on whose point of view you are taking.
    Anyway, this was an awesome review, and has made me so keen to read this book (even more keen than I was before I read this review)! 😀

  2. I didn’t love the Chemical Gardens books (I’ve only actually finished Wither. I’ve started Fever about three times but never got past the first twenty-odd pages) but this sounds really intriguing! I’m really glad to hear that her writing has improved, though I didn’t find it awful in her previous trilogy. I’m mostly interested in this because I love the idea of a “utopian” society that hides an awful secret (a la The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas by Ursula K. LeGuin). We’ve seen so many horrible dystopians that it’s a welcome change!

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