Perfect Ruin (Internment Chronicles 1)

Perfect Ruin (Internment Chronicles 1)

By: Lauren DeStefano


Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (October 1, 2013)

A Young Adult dystopia fiction review

On the floating island of Internment, Morgan Stockhour wonders what lies beyond the Edge of her world, about the forbidden ground below.  How different is life there, really? Why is it so dangerous that even to approach the Edge will mean it is too late? Above all, why does it hold such a powerful fascination for her?  Is there something wrong with her that she still longs to know more, even after a trip to the Edge blinded her brother?  Then violent incidents start occurring on civilized Internment and the neat borders of Morgan’s world start to bend in ways even she couldn’t imagine…but how far before they break?  When on a floating world, just how many ways are there to fall over the Edge?

DeStefano’s take on teenagers discovering their ordered world comes at a terrible price stands up well to predecessors like The City of Ember and The Giver.  Internment’s well-defined myths, its ever-unfolding laws, and the casual delivery of its entrenched perspective bring this world to life.  Through Morgan’s eyes, readers realize the norms and assumptions of Internment’s citizens as if they were our own; DeStefano lets us belong there rather than thrusting us abruptly into her world like most dystopian works.  The duality between growing into our knowledge of Internment as Morgan knew it at the same time as Morgan unearths the lies behind that facade brings the emotions and questions of Perfect Ruin straight to the reader in a unique way.  The sharp individuality of Morgan’s supporting characters keep entwining the audience further into this world, this life, these questions, because they illustrate so clearly what lines of thought belong to them personally and which come from living in this particular space and time.

Perfect Ruin starts with a somewhat cliche dystopian setup, but through DeStefano’s writing style and the interplay of relationships, it lends the familiar aspects of this plot a more intimate emphasis, and rather different punctuation.  Here, questions come with clouds and wedding rings put a period to many ordinary statements.  It’s these details that moved me the most and enticed me to keep on reading, and feeling, along with Morgan.  I invite you to do the same and go past that book cover’s Edge…to see how far you fall with Perfect Ruin.  

Prudence (Custard Protocol Series 1)

Prudence (Custard Protocol Series 1)

By: Gail Carriger


Orbit US (March 2015)

A YA Fantasy Steampunk review

(Review of the first in Carriger’s previous series here:

Prudence, releases March 17, 2015

When Dama, better known to those who aren’t his adopted daughter as Lord Akeldama, gives Lady Prudence not only an advanced dirigible, but also a dangerous, tea-centric mission in India to carry out, the world’s only metanatural charges full-steam ahead.  After all, with her best friend Primrose to ensure the supply of proper pastries, Professor Percy to do research, and Quesnel Lefoux’s engineering, how far off course could Prudence’s crew really go?  Unfortunately, it turns out that a mysterious kidnapping, disputes over an international treaty, and the maneuverings of a secretive liaison can steer one sadly far away from one’s tea.  Nevertheless, the youngest and most impulsive of the Maccons must captain her ship through the tumult.

Prudence introduces its next generation of characters with gusto.  They manage to takeover all the action without replacing any of the drama still to come for the elder generation.  Carriger makes it clear that these older relationships will still bear fruit.  Still, it is easy to set it aside for Prudence’s new characters and new climes.  While the title heroine feels much more immature and in need of development than Alexia, it is fascinating to see this world through such different eyes.  The depths of Prudence’s new acquaintances are barely skimmed, but are already as rich and smooth as whipped cream.  Once in India, the scintillating expansion of this world and its inhabitants unfolds with a marvelous flair for intrigue.  The plot’s twists and discoveries proved hearty, satisfying fare, well-buttered and crisped.  It kept me up, devouring it, until much later than I intended.  The lacking aspect of this novel is the romance.  Prudence’s flirtation brings out nothing in either of its participants and progresses in a stilted fashion, without enough substance to back it up: a rather weak serving of tea to accompany an excellent meal.  However, as the first book in a companion series, Prudence had a lot to establish, and there will be later books to grow both the heroine’s romance and maturity.  All in all, this debut makes me very eager for the rest of the Custard Protocol books.  Perhaps with some illustrations of Queen Ivy’s horrific hats?