cover image Perfect Ruin

Perfect Ruin

Lauren DeStefano. Simon & Schuster, $17.99 (368p) ISBN 978-1-4424-8061-2

Totalitarianism is boring. The challenge for authors of totalitarian dystopias is to write about the boredom in interesting ways—a challenge that DeStefano (the Chemical Garden Trilogy) doesn’t quite surmount in this first book in the Internment Chronicles. Morgan Stockhour is a good tenth-year student who loves her state-mandated betrothed, Basil, and thinks her floating island country, Internment, is beautiful. True, Internment’s history is based on the ground god’s rejection and banishment of its people, but the god of the sky looks after them, as does portly King Furlow and kindly patrolmen like Morgan’s father. Morgan’s world is studded with allegory and symbol: her brother, Lex, looked over the edge of their world and was struck blind; an accused murderer is named Judas; the trains always run on time. It’s difficult not to pity Morgan—she’s a government-molded drone trapped in a familiar dystopian structure, despite the novelty of the setting. Still, love creeps in, and nascent rebellion finally stirs when Morgan realizes that not even the most benevolent despot can keep her world secure and stable. Ages 12–up. Agent: Barbara Poelle, Irene Goodman Literary Agency. (Oct.)