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"We accept gods that don't speak to us. We accept gods that would place us in a world filled with injustices and do nothing as we struggle. It's easier than accepting that there's nothing out there at all, and that, in our darkest moments, we are truly alone." —Perfect Ruin
Internment Chronicles #1
by Lauren DeStefano
The edge calls. Life on Internment should be enough, but for some it is not. They seek the edge. They brave the hypnotizing winds. They hope for a glimpse of the ground. They want more.
For Morgan, life on Internment has been enough. Then a young girl is murdered and everything changes. Danger is in the air. But it’s not the murder that worries Morgan. She wonders if she can resist the call of the edge. She wonders if Internment is what it appears. She wonders. She daydreams. She questions. And her questions can be dangerous.
Perfect Ruin creates a world that is a utopia for most. The author creates a world that is interesting in the fact that it is not perfect, but it is not evil. However, what makes Perfect Ruin a great read is the characters. From the start, the reader can easily fall in love with Morgan as well as her friends and family. Morgan’s best friend Pen is full of contradictions and surprises. Basil, Morgan’s betrothed, is a solid character who clearly understands Morgan and loves her anyway. The interaction between the characters is heart-warming and believable.
The storyline is full of twists and surprises. And when the readers get to the end, they are going to want to pick up the second book in the series, Burning Kingdoms.
- In Morgan’s narration, she says, “. . . I’ve heard it isn’t uncommon for girls my age to be intimate with their betrothed, but the idea still embarrasses me.”
- Morgan and her friend are caught sneaking out of the academy. When asked by the headmaster why they left, Morgan’s friend says they were talking about “female matters, sir. I’m a little more—seasoned—than Morgan and she was asking me for advice regarding a private conundrum with her betrothed.”
- Morgan and her betrothed kiss. “We move our faces at the same time, and then our lips are touching. I’ve lost my worries. Traded them in for the sun and the taste of his tongue and the thought that in sixty years we’ll be ashes—we’ll be tossed into the air and after a moment of weightlessness we’ll be everywhere and nowhere.”
- Morgan describes when she kisses her betrothed. “It roots me to the place, makes me feel at home.”
- One of the characters mentions that her brother is “more interested in my betrothed than I am.” At that time Morgan thinks, “I am still thinking about the prince being attracted to his sister’s betrothed…the prince isn’t the first to be attracted to his own gender; although it isn’t talked about, I remember my brother denouncing the serum and the surgery purported to treat this kind of attraction.”
- When Morgan kisses her betrothed, “he’s touching the side of my face, his hands are soft as air. His eyes have changed, gone hazy the way they do when bodies are close. I like that I’m the only one that does this with him; I’m the only one who gets to see him this way.”
- Morgan and several of her classmates are on their way home from the academy when the train backs up because a young girl has been murdered. Morgan finds out that the girl’s throat and wrist were slashed. “Everything indicates that she bled to death.”
- Morgan thinks back to a murder that happened when her parents were young. Two men were fighting and one pushed the other one into the swallows, an area much like quicksand. The murderer “had been driven mad by a tainted elixir that should have been discarded by the pharmacists. He was feverish and deranged when they found him, and the king had no choice but to have him dispatched.”
- A flower shop burns down, which is highly unusual in this world.
- When a specialist asks about her sister-in-law’s “procedure”, Morgan thinks, “Procedures. Like ‘incident,’ this is another word that covers a broad range of unpleasant things. There is the termination procedure. The dispatch procedure. The dusting procedure that reduces bodies to ash. The mercy procedure that dispatches the infants who are born unwell.”
- Morgan narrates a story about two twins. The one twin, Olive, killed her sister and assumed her identity. All of Olive’s children were born dead, “Convinced that she was being punished by the god in the sky, and driven mad by grief, Olive confessed what she had done.”
- Morgan and her friend are kidnapped, have their hands tied behind their backs, and are put into a dark room. One of the attackers says, “We’ve decided to let you live . . . for now. If we killed you tonight, it would be an awful lot of blood; we’d be up until dawn with the cleaning. . .”
- Morgan and her friend plan an escape. At this time, Morgan’s friend hits one of the attackers with a brick, and he falls to the ground bleeding.
Drugs and Alcohol
- Morgan’s mother regularly takes a prescription. When Morgan sees a murdered girl, she doesn’t want her mother to worry. “She’s been doing so well lately. It has been a while since she’s gone through an entire prescription.” Later in the story, Morgan’s mom sleeps a lot because of the headache elixir.
- Morgan’s sister-in-law becomes pregnant “out of turn.” She has to have the pregnancy terminated. As part of the narration, Morgan also tells a story about another woman: “A woman decided she’d rather smother her child than allow it to belong to someone else.”
- When Morgan and her betrothed go to her bedroom, Morgan’s mother asks her if she took her “sterility pill.”
- One of the character’s mothers has a tonic addiction that is referred to several times. The addiction prevented her mother from working for a while.
- One character is given a pill so she doesn’t “have a fit.”
- One of the characters says, “I’m going to get drunk now, I think . . . you’re welcome to join me.” However, Morgan talks her friend out of getting drunk when she says, “We promised to sneak tonic bottle only when we’re looking to have fun. This wouldn’t be fun. It would just be sad.”
- A character tells Morgan she’s lucky because “You aren’t doomed to marry a complete ass.”
- The book revolves around The History of Interment that tells of the first humans who the god of the ground wanted to destroy because they were ungrateful. The god of the sky “thought they were too clever to waste, and he agreed to keep them in the sky with the promise that they would never again interfere with the ground.” Because of this belief, the god of the sky is referred to often.
- There is a festival of stars, which is a month-long celebration. At the end of the festival, people ask the god of the sky for gifts and requests.
- On the train ride home, Morgan sees a pregnant woman. “Her lips are moving. It takes me a few seconds to realize that she’s talking to the god in the sky, something the people of Internment do only when they are desperate.”
- In Daphne Leander’s essay, she wrote, “Up until someone I loved approached the edge, I had no reason to question the hand of any god, much less my own god’s hand. But to see that no amount of love or will on my part could make that little girl open her eyes as she lay unconscious in a sterile room—How could I not question this god that watches over us?”
- Some think that the swallows, an area much like quicksand, were created because the god in the sky was angry.
- Daphne Leander’s also wrote, “Every moment is a gift, from the frivolous to the dire. The taste of sweetgold, and the rough paper of our favorite books. I find a god in these things—which god, I cannot say, but I’m grateful to it.”
- When Morgan meets the person accused of Daphne’s murder, she wonders, “If he asked for Daphne to return to him, his request would certainly be rejected. There are some things that even a god can’t do.”
- In Daphne Leander’s essay, she wrote, “Each of us has a betrothed so that we won’t have to spend our lives alone. It leads me to wonder to whom the gods are married. The elements, perhaps. Or do they know something we don’t know about solitude?”
- When Morgan and a friend sneak out of the academy during lunch, Morgan thinks, “It seems as though something should stop us. The god of the sky himself should send a gust of wind in warning. But nothing happens at all.”
- Daphne Leander wrote, “Our bodies are burned when we die. All the good in our soul lives on in the tributary, while all the bad in us burns away forever. This frightens me. Who decides what is good and what is bad? Who decides what is saved and what is lost from our souls?”
- People are dispatched when they are seventy-five. “To live beyond our useful years would be selfish. That’s how we show our gratitude to the god in the sky . . . We send our ashes up for the sky god to collect. The ashes become part of a current, a force, instead of just one body. It’s called the tributary—a perfect harmony of souls.”
- When Morgan asks her friend if the gods are a myth, her friend replies, “It goes against everything we’ve been taught. We’re living on a big rock floating in the sky. How many explanations can there be for that? . . . What kind of science could explain how we got here or even why we exist? Of course there are gods.”
- In Daphne Leander’s essay, she wrote, “We accept gods that don’t speak to us. We accept gods that would place us in a world filled with injustices and do nothing as we struggle. It’s easier than accepting that there’s nothing out there at all, and that, in our darkest moments, we are truly alone.”
- In one scene Morgan’s brother prays to the god of the sky and she thinks, “He doesn’t even believe there is a god anymore.”
- There are several characters who wonder if the gods exist.