Review: ‘Perfect Ruin’ by Lauren Destefano

Review: ‘Perfect Ruin’ by Lauren DestefanoPerfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano
Series: The Internment Chronicles #1
Genres: Dystopian, Fantasy, Legends, Myths, Fables, Realistic Fantasy, Young Adult
Published by Simon and Schuster on 2013-10-01
Format: Hardcover
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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 her 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.

I. Loved. This. Book. Period.

But since I can’t just leave my review at that, I guess I have to continue.

Morgan lives in the floating city of Internment, which was said to have been raised into the air by the god of the sky to punish the humans whose demands of the gods never seemed to end. Life on Internment is safe, comfortable, and without jealousy or greed. A person may choose any path in life, but no one can approach ‘the edge’ or attempt to reach the ground. But for Morgan, Internment seems to get smaller everyday as her yearning to know about ‘the ground’ grows. When the first murder in a generation occurs, it sets off a spiraling series of events that opens Morgan’s eyes to the truth about the city that is her whole world.

I was enchanted by the city of Internment, which coincidentally reminds me of another floating city (I know, how many can there be?) called Laputa from Hayao Miyazaki’s film Castle in the Sky, which apparently has its own roots in Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels.

The world building in Perfect Ruin is both spectacular and captivating. Internment, having existed separately from ‘the ground’, has over time developed its own religion, history, and culture that I absolutely loved reading about. Many of Internment’s practices also stem from its need to conserve space and resources, as the ‘island’ is quite small. I had no trouble reading on as I found out all about Internment’s customs, from assigning betrothals (engagements) at birth, the ‘birth queue’ that couples must join to be allowed to have a child, the ‘Festival of Lights’ (a sort of Christmas holiday) and so on.

None of the other elements of the book disappoint, either; the characters are the next-best thing about Perfect Ruin. Morgan is compassionate and always trying to take care of everyone else in her life, yet knows when she needs to rely on and confide in others. While she starts off as naive, she slowly becomes aware of the true nature of life on Internment and is anything but passive as she strives for justice. Her best friend Pen has her own distinct personality, beliefs, and problems, and her friendship with Morgan is believable and strong. Basil, her betrothed, knows Morgan perhaps better than she knows herself, and loves and supports her through all her troubles and fantasies about ‘the ground’. Even Lex, her older brother who is now blind and bitter after being a ‘Jumper’, is so dear to Morgan as he reminds her of herself and her own struggles. All in all, there is not a character that I didn’t like in this book, and they all add to the story.

As for the plot, I was never bored. Internment quickly becomes a less-than safe place, and crimes and mistrust abound. So many elements of the story begin to come together in the later parts of the book, and I enjoyed the many plot-twists. By the end I was an emotional ball of nerves, quickly flipping through the pages to find out what would happen. And with the way the book ended, there is no doubt that I will be reading the sequel.

Destefano’s artful and poetic writing was really just an added bonus to an already great book. Her beautiful prose added to my sense of wonder about Internment and gave the book a whimsical and dreamy tone.

A must read! I enjoyed the creative world-building. No part will disappoint!

Throwback Thursday: Review: ‘The Giver’ by Lois Lowry

Throwback Thursday: Review: ‘The Giver’ by Lois LowryThe Giver by Lois Lowry
Series: The Giver #1
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on 1993-01-01
Format: Hardcover
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Jonas' world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear or pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the Community. When Jonas turns twelve, he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. Now, it is time for Jonas to receive the truth. There is no turning back.

So for starters, if you missed it in the book information above, this book was first published in 1993. Nineteen-ninety-three! I wasn’t even born then! If anything makes a good Throwback Thursday, it’s a book published over two decades ago.

Of course, it’s been in the news as of late because it has a movie adaptation coming out in August. But more on that later…:)

The Giver is definitely different from other YA Dystopias, probably because it was one of the first. Overall it has a noticeably slower pace and less action. And, setting it apart from most dystopias, the book’s narrator is 12-year old Jonas, versus the typical 16-year old girl so popular in dystopias.

While different doesn’t always mean better, in the case of The Giver, I embraced the diversity that it brought. While most other books in the genre have found success by following recent precedents, Lowry’s book goes about things differently but has its own appeal. Jonas’ point-of-view gave me a very clear understanding of his ‘community,’ one that was unclouded by superfluities and still innocent, unlike that of a usually jaded teenaged narrator. It gave the story a very straightforward and honest feeling.

But in all honesty, I did miss the action and fast pacing found in today’s dystopias. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Lowry even suggests that, “If The Giver had been published this year, maybe no publisher would have wanted it because it’s…tame compared to the others.”

However, it’s not the action that shines in The Giver; it’s the questions the book brings up. Lowry’s novel made me question so many things I take for granted and examines things that I’ve never even given a second thought:

  • Without memories, can someone ever truly be ‘wise’? Or does wisdom come from learned experience?
  • Is our own community formed through free will, or do we also have ‘rules’ that deliberately structure our society?
  • Can people truly not deal with differences, or do they chose to surround themselves with ‘sameness’ because they fear diversity?

The novel also looks at love, emotions, human connection, and courage, among other things.

Now, if you’ve seen the trailer for the upcoming movie, the real question seems to be in concern to how closely (or not closely) the movie will follow the book. The trailer is below for your viewing pleasure, though BEWARE OF SPOILERS if you haven’t read the book:

It seems that Jonas is no longer 12 but maybe 16, making The Giver like so many other dystopias. So of course, he is given a love interest that doesn’t exist really exist in the book. The trailer gives away so many big ‘reveals’ from the book, so it becomes obvious that the ending will not be the same.

But at the same time, the trailer is very compelling and makes me want to see it. There is obviously more action, and the romance adds a new twist to the story. The acting looks to be superb, and the cinematography is eye-catching and dramatic. And it doesn’t hurt, of course, that Brenton Thwaites is rather easy on the eyes. 😉 I will probably go to see it in theaters, and hope it does not disappoint.

The Giver is different from the average dystopian, and really made me think.

Have you read and enjoyed The Giver? Were there things about it you didn’t quite like? What do you think about the movie trailer?

Waiting On Wednesday: ‘A Thousand Pieces of You’ by Claudia Gray

Waiting On Wednesday: ‘A Thousand Pieces of You’ by Claudia GrayA Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray
Series: Firebird #1
Genres: Sci-Fi, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Published by HarperCollins on 2014-11-04
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Every Day meets Cloud Atlas in this heart-racing, space- and time-bending, epic new trilogy from New York Times bestselling author Claudia Gray.

Marguerite Caine’s physicist parents are known for their radical scientific achievements. Their most astonishing invention: the Firebird, which allows users to jump into parallel universes, some vastly altered from our own. But when Marguerite’s father is murdered, the killer—her parent’s handsome and enigmatic assistant Paul—escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him.

Marguerite can’t let the man who destroyed her family go free, and she races after Paul through different universes, where their lives entangle in increasingly familiar ways. With each encounter she begins to question Paul’s guilt—and her own heart. Soon she discovers the truth behind her father’s death is more sinister than she ever could have imagined.

A Thousand Pieces of You explores a reality where we witness the countless other lives we might lead in an amazingly intricate multiverse, and ask whether, amid infinite possibilities, one love can endure.

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spinethat spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

Okay — while practically EVERYTHING about A Thousand Pieces of You demands that I get this book as soon as possible, first, LOOK AT THAT COVER. Such gorgeous colors and a watercolor background to boot. But of course, most importantly, the London and Moscow skylines (!!!)!  I love Travel Lit, and I’m hoping that even more foreign places will be featured in this book.

And don’t forget the synopsis.

“Every Day meets Cloud Atlas in this heart-racing, space- and time-bending, epic new trilogy…”

Could this get any better? David Leviathan’s Every Day, aka a romance with a Sci-fi twist and Cloud Atlas, a stunning movie set in different places all over the world in different times (Yes, I’ll admit I haven’t read the book) sounds like a recipe for success. I know these book comparisons are made all the time and are not always right, but in the case of A Thousand Pieces of You, I supremely hope it is.

Throw in parallel universes and it’s all over. If this book were available for purchase now, I would have bought it, like, yesterday. Which is the highest form of praise a book can receive from me, as I borrow almost every single book I read from the library. But it won’t be out until November…whyyy??? I need this! (Publishers, take note.)

So if you’re a fan of Sci-fi or Travel Lit like me, you’d better be adding this to your Goodreads shelf or to-be-read list. Or, you know, even if you’re just a fan of the cover. I won’t judge. 😉

Lina :)xx

Are you psyched to read the book? Have you already been waiting on A Thousand Pieces of You? Share your thoughts!

Review: ‘Catch a Falling Star’ by Kim Culbertson

Review: ‘Catch a Falling Star’ by Kim CulbertsonCatch a Falling Star by Kim Culbertson
Genres: Contemporary, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Published by Scholastic Inc. on 2014-04-29
Format: Hardcover
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A deliciously charming novel about finding true love . . . and yourself.

Nothing ever happens in Little, CA. Which is just the way Carter Moon likes it. But when Hollywood arrives to film a movie starring former child star turned PR mess Adam Jakes, everything changes. Carter's town becomes a giant glittery set and, much to her annoyance, everyone is starry-eyed for Adam. Carter seems to be the only girl not falling all over herself to get a glimpse of him. Which apparently makes her perfect for the secret offer of a lifetime: playing the role of Adam's girlfriend while he's in town, to improve his public image, in exchange for a hefty paycheck. Her family really needs the money and so Carters agrees. But it turns out Adam isn't at all who she thought he was. As they grow closer, their relationship walks a blurry line between what's real and what's fake, and Carter must open her eyes to the scariest of unexplored worlds - her future. Can Carter figure out what she wants out of life AND get the guy? Or are there no Hollywood endings in real life?

Simply from the cover and from the synopsis, I was worried that this book was simply going to be another normal-girl-falls-in-love-with-a-celebrity book, of which there are a surprising number. But Catch a Falling Star definitely surpassed my expectations and was much more than just a girl meets (famous) boy story.

Let me start by saying that I would love to inhabit the small, Northern California town of Little. As soon as possible. You know, if it were a real place.  I could try to describe it, but I think the opening scenes of the novel portray Little best:

“If my life were a movie,[…] the scene would open as the shot found the curve of our river cutting through the granite mountains, its waters famous for their inky green swirl, reflecting all the pine and sky. […] Next, the shot would […] move along the pretty pastel roads of Victorian shops and houses […] past gaggles of people at outdoor cafés or leaning their bikes against storefronts or waving as they crossed the street.”

But maybe an even better way to get to know Little was by reading about its residents. From protest-organizer Nora Trent, to coffee shop regular Mr. Michaels, and even to Cleo Smythe, who has lived out all 103 years of her life in the same house, everyone is alike in their love of the town. That the author spends the extra time to make Little really come to life makes Carter’s own life all the more real and touching.

It was certainly refreshing to read a book narrated by a character like Carter. She stands out from the mob of bland main characters in so many ways: in her thoughtfulness, her natural way of caring for her family and everyone around her, her level-headedness…I could go on. Carter is very likable indeed, so it was never difficult to read on under her narration.

But on to what everyone wants to hear about…Carter’s romance with celebrity Adam Jakes! Though he is at first distant and closed-off, we soon  begin to see the charming and surprisingly normal guy underneath, at least when the paparazzi aren’t around. Their romance, though it has its roots in a fake relationship, slowly progresses at a credible pace. Adam really just needs someone he can open up to to reveal the person who isn’t just the celebrity, and Carter soon finds parts of his life that echo her own.

But what will be memorable about Catch a Falling Star isn’t necessarily the romance; it’s everything else. Long after reading I will remember Carter: how she loved working at her parents’ cafe, her struggles determining her future, and her musings about life, the nature of celebrity, and society’s expectations while stargazing with her friends. Little and her life there will not leave me soon.

A charming, satisfying, and summery read that surprised me!

What did you think of Catch a Falling Star? Have you been to Northern California or lived in a small town like Little? Have you ever met a celebrity?