I posted on here a little while ago about the first two books of the Chemical Garden Trilogy by DeStefano which I really thought were missing something. They weren’t by any stretch bad books, but there were some shortcomings when it came to plot. Not so when it comes to Perfect Ruin, the first book in the new Internment Chronicles Series (Young Adult).
Morgan Stockhour knows getting too close to the edge of Internment, the floating city in the clouds where she lives, can lead to madness. Even though her older brother, Lex, was a Jumper, Morgan vows never to end up like him. If she ever wonders about the ground, and why it is forbidden, she takes solace in her best friend, Pen, and in Basil, the boy she’s engaged to marry.
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 once she meets Judas…
There was something completely romantic about this whole story, and surprisingly, it wasn’t really a teen romance like so many are. Morgan is already betrothed, and although she is beginning to have stronger feeling for Basil, the entire plot doesn’t revolve around their undying love or some crazy love triangle. Instead, the romance comes from the whole idea of living on some floating city where the desire to jump can drive people mad. There is mystery when it comes to what is happening on the surface below, and the entire society has a great “damsel in distress” feel to it.
Combine that with a controlling, almost totalitarian monarchy that seeks to prevent anyone from leaving and a secret underground rebellion that’s just gaining some momentum, and you have a great story. The murder-mystery component starts the whole thing off, but it’s more of a plot device to get us to the rebellion and the secrets that underpin all of society.
Morgan was a strong narrator, and I enjoyed learning about Internment from her perspective, but her friend Pen came across as fluffy and annoying. I really hope her character is fleshed out in Book 2, but for now I could leave her behind. Thankfully, that’s really the only negative that bothered me while reading. The other characters were great, if somewhat stereotypical, but I don’t mind it if I don’t notice it while reading (if that makes sense). Going back and thinking about things after finishing the book is one thing, but if I’m not worrying about cliches while reading, then I count that as a win for the author.
Part of the success of this book is that it recognizes all of the typical YA themes that we’ve grown accustomed to: exploring relationships and sexuality, questioning the status quo, adventure, rash decision-making, subtle (or not-so-subtle) elements of the supernatural, etc. But the great thing is that this book could have easily worked as an adult novel has the protagonist been older. Although all of these elements are present, it didn’t read like just another dystopian YA novel. There weren’t any preachy elements, and there weren’t a whole lot of terrible decisions made that ruined the plot progression.
Burning Kingdoms, Book 2 in the series has an expected publication date of 2014, and I am really looking forward to continuing the story.