Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefanoPerfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano

Perfect Ruin

byLauren DeStefano

Hardcover | October 1, 2013

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From the New York Times bestselling author of The Chemical Garden trilogy: On the floating city of Internment, you can be anything you dream. Unless you approach the edge. Children’s Literature says “shades of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and George Orwell’s 1984 inspire DeStefano’s sci-fi/murder mystery page-turner.”

Morgan Stockhour knows getting too close to the edge of Internment, the floating city and her home, can lead to madness. Even though her older brother, Lex, was a Jumper, Morgan vows never to end up like him. There’s too much for her on Internment: her parents, best friend Pen, and her betrothed, Basil. Her life is ordinary and safe, even if she sometimes does wonder about the ground and why it’s forbidden.

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. Betrothed to the victim, Judas is being blamed for the murder, 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 whom she will lose.
Lauren Destefano won The Thornton Wilder Award for a short story entitled Orange Blood while in high school. She received a BA in English with a concentration in creative writing from Albertus Magnus College in Connecticut in 2007. She is the author of the Chemical Garden Trilogy.
Title:Perfect RuinFormat:HardcoverDimensions:368 pages, 8.25 × 5.5 × 1.2 inPublished:October 1, 2013Publisher:Simon & Schuster Books for Young ReadersLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1442480610

ISBN - 13:9781442480612

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Rated 4 out of 5 by from Perfect Ruin The bonds between these characters whether romantic, familial, or in friendship, were so emotionally engaging that it was easy enough to overlook the few times the heroine made some questionable decisions. #plumreview
Date published: 2017-05-24
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Interesting Actually more like a 3.5/5 Okay, so this wasn't anything super special. It was very reminiscent of Ashes of Twilight or City of Ember, and the plot was nothing special. We all know how this goes - secluded city cut off from the rest of humanity, event that makes main character question city, slow realization of the city's secrets, escape from city. No, the plot was not what made me like this book. The reason I like this book, and actually a fair amount, was because of the characters. There was something about all of them, and their relationships to each other. I didn't feel like there was a single character, possible excepting her parents, who didn't have a meaningful relationship with the main character. There was a rebel-type boy introduced early on, and I was just closing my eyes and bracing for the moment it turned into a love triangle, but it never did. Around the middle of the book I had to accept that they just have a good, friend-type relationship. I was pleasantly shocked. Her best friend was not just a stand-in, comic relief type best friend. Even her brother's wife I felt like I could connect with. Even a supposed antagonist was interesting and non-cliched. I was really pleased. So, in conclusion, if you're looking for a mind-blowing story, perhaps this isn't the book for you. But if you're looking for sweet, quite understated relationships and a interesting commentary on faith and curiosity, go for it. I'll definitely be reading the rest in the series when they come out. I really want the next one to do the same things right.
Date published: 2016-12-31
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Slow, but enjoyable Perfect Ruin is compared to Huxley's Brave New World and Orwell's 1984. While I saw elements of 1984's Newspeak in Perfect Ruin, and the drugs of Brave New World (though not recreational) there were many elements of the book that I felt were more comparable to Lois Lowry's The Giver rather than the other two classic-dystopians. This book is slow for a dystopian. The dystopian world is also a little too complicated, as it shows through Morgan's narration--even towards the end of the book--explaining to the reader certain dystopian elements to her world. A good dystopian should be able to effectively display and teach the reader of their world's differences early into the book, rather than playing catchup to the Newspeak elements of Perfect Ruin. It was clear reading this book that this dystopian is no way a one-book thing (even though it seems that most YA dystopians come in a pack of three), however it takes way too long for the protagonist to become deeply involved into her world. It should have picked up far earlier. I am delightfully surprised that a love triangle didn't emerge. I was waiting for it to happen, and was very relieved when it didn't. Some reviewers have said they wished there was more romance. I disagree. I thought the little amount of romance was appropriate for the book and wasn't distracting towards the plot. And the romance in Perfect Ruin isn't bad--there's a careful balance DeStefano gives towards the romance with cute moments and it works. The betrothed glass rings is an excellent and creative imagery and one of my favourite things about this book. It's captured enough of my attention to read the sequel.
Date published: 2015-04-29
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Great world! Morgan lives on Internment, a floating city in the sky. Living in a perfect Utopian society has its benefits, and her life starts off as perfectly ordinary, until a girl from her school is killed. Chaos starts to erupt from every side and she starts to think that her perfect life, isn't so perfect after all. Lauren's writing is always so beautifully written. She knows how to weave a storyline with a great cast of characters and whole new world where they can play. Perfect Ruin is no exception. This is a true utopian novel set across an island in the sky where the royal family rules, and everyone else follows into line. As always, Lauren has built a world that makes you feel like it's real. Where you follow the characters and their stories until it makes you feel like you're part of that world. (Did not mean to sound like The Little Mermaid there, honest!) I just loved how incredibly stubborn Morgan was. She always questioned everyone's actions and never accepted things the way it were. You can see her change from the accepting teenager in the beginning, to the stronger more independent character in the end. I even loved the secondary characters that Lauren brought to life. They complimented Morgan really well especially her best friend. Overall, a story that is worth its time to read with characters I'm sure will go through a huge character arc. I'm always a fan of Lauren's writing!
Date published: 2014-04-27
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Uhh... Lauren DeStefano is one of my most favourite authors. I loved her trilogy, Wither, and I was so excited to hear that she is beginning a new dystopian trilogy. New characters and a new beginning was exactly what I was looking for.  Where was the goodness here? This book didn't end up the way I expected it. I wanted a deeper story with more happening whatsoever. The characters were very boring and they didn't seem heroic at all.  This is classified as a dystopian book, but I don't think that it was a good idea at all. It seems like some of the lower class ones with no big idea just random things happening. I wanted better! More romance, more dystopian, more drama!
Date published: 2014-03-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Loved It! Lauren Destefano is an author I am so happy I discovered. Her Chemical Garden Trilogy was one of my favorite series these last few years. Her ability to create a new and exciting world was amazing and I loved reading it. So when I figured out that she was writing a new series I was extremely excited and wanted to read it right away. Perfect Ruin was a great read. I knew going in that it would be very different from her other series, but I did notice some similarities. For example, like in the Chemical Garden Trilogy, the characters are betrothed to another, and they have no choice in the matter. But unlike her last trilogy, the main character approves of this match and it is actually quite a sweet romance. Even though it seems forced at the beginning. What I loved about this book was the world itself. The imagination Lauren has is unlike anything i have read. When you read about a generation of people who were banished to the sky by God, and forced to live on an island in the sky, you have to admit that its pretty amazing. Internment is literally an island that is suspended in the sky, and its residence are forbidden to go to the ground, and if you try, then they are faced with some pretty horrific consequences. Another aspect of this story was the mystery element. This is something that Lauren touched on in her Chemical Garden series but in Perfect Ruin it is everything. When a girl is found murdered, her wrists and throat slashed everyone on the island begins to panic, and with good reason. There hasn't been a murder in over 20 years. I loved this aspect of the story. I wanted to know who was the murderer and why that girl had to die. And i loved how it effected our main character. She had always questioned the world around her, and why they were bannished from teh ground, but this just added to that. We saw her grow as a character and become an independent thinker and I loved that. I am so happy that Lauren wrote this series, it is both familiar and unique. It is a story that I cannot wait to follow, and considering how the book ended, the next one will have even more mysteries and surprises. And I cannot wait! A great read!
Date published: 2014-01-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Lauren DeStefano Does It Again Lauren DeStefano does it again!  The Chemical Garden trilogy was so good, I wondered whether her next book would live up to it and with Perfect Ruin she has set up the beginning of another truly unique dystopian future.  On Internment, DeStefano deals with current issues which are often brought up in dystopian literature, in fact she seems to bring them all up: forced abortion, eugenics, population control, ageist euthanasia and a routinely medicated society.  All the while for the inhabitants it might as well be a happy little place to live except for the disturbing lure of the edge which inevitably kills or maims those who get caught in its attraction.  A quick, page-turning read with genuinely interesting characters.  In this book there is no character defined as the "bad guy" as the King is just a ruler in his tower at this point. I really enjoyed this and while dystopian in nature as her previous books, the author ha gone out in a completely different direction making this series unique from the other.  The only thing that annoyed me a bit is that the ending is decidedly a cliffhanger (literally ending with a jump, don't worry not a spoiler, just a pun for those who've read the book LOL).  I like books in series to be individual stories themselves with a finite ending, yet remaining part of the whole series.  Cliffhanger endings don't impress me but I didn't find this one frustrating as it was more anti-climatic so I'm not docking points.  A good solid, unique, fun 5 star read.
Date published: 2013-12-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Amazing characters Back when I first started to blog seriously Lauren DeStefano's debut Wither was one of the first dystopian/post apocalyptic novels I had ever read that I actually liked. I remember being blown away by her writing and the story she gave me. As I read The Chemical Garden Trilogy I continued to be blown away by Destefano's writing and her talent for weaving words together in this incredibly poetic way. It was magical. Upon finishing Sever (book three in the Chemical Gardens Trilogy) I was happy that there was already plans for more from DeStefano. I couldn't imagine seeing nothing else from her. I didn't know a lot about what to expect from this new series, which I had been described a utopian society in a city floating on a rock in the sky. Sounded good to me. So I went into reading Perfect Ruin knowing very little and and not expecting a lot. I did see a few tweets here and there from fellow bloggers who were having a hard time getting into the story. This left me feeling a wee bit nervous. Perfect Ruin is the first book in three part trilogy (I think). It introduces us to Morgan a sixteen year old girl whose family has been through some trials. Her older brother Lex is a jumper. What this means essentially is that he tried to jump from Internment (the floating city) to get to the ground, this is a big faux pas. As it often leaves those who survive mentally incompetent. This is unacceptable because Internment is a city that is very tightly run. Residents of the city marry who they are told to marry, they have children when they are told to have children, they take medication when they are told to. Everything is all very regulated. This is to ensure that nothing goes array in the city. So when a girl is found murdered, there is chaos. Homicide isn't something that that happens on Internment and it sends everyone into a frenzy. Including Morgan who is beginning to question the way things are on Internment and is feeling the pull of the edge herself. Perfect Ruin (to me) was a little reminiscent of Matched by Ally Condie (which was the only book I read in that trilogy). In that everything in the city was very regulated and there was a way everything was to be done. Even the way I saw the city in both books was the same. I am in no way comparing this story to Matched because I think they are very different. However their societies are similar. If you didn't like Matched still give Perfect Ruin a go, because it is very good. As mentioned earlier, some of the earlier reviews on this book has said that not a lot happens in Perfect Ruin, and that the beginning is pretty slow. I agree and disagree. It is true that not a lot happens in the beginning, but what's DeStefano is doing is setting the stage. She's showing you what life on Internment is all about. What Internment itself is all about. These are all important details. I loved that by the end of the book I felt like I knew the workings of the city and those who lived there. What I really loved about Perfect Ruin were the characters. I thought Morgan is a fantastic protagonist. She is a curious, loyal and brave individual. Her brother Lex is also one of my favourite characters. He's suffering from his jump which left him blind and he is a wounded soul who wants something more from his life. According to the powers that be on Interment this makes him erratic and mentally unstable. But Lex is intelligent and he is also incredibly loyal. I loved the relationship that he has with Morgan. It's something special. Lex is often off in his own world, but there are times when you see how truly he cares for his sister, and it's beautiful. Basil, Morgan's betrothed is also a pretty interesting character, I have a feeling we'll be seeing some interesting things from him in the future. I also liked how well he and Morgan interacted. They respect one another and that's important for any relationship. While Pen, Morgan's best friend was one of the few characters who didn't stand out for me. I feel like she's going to surprise us and be a monumental figure in future books. I'm curious about her. Overall, I really liked Perfect Ruin and I was in my happy place the whole time I was reading it. It's beautifully written and the characters are well developed and three dimensional. If you are going to read this book, read it for the characters alone.You will not be sorry. Lauren DeStefano know's what she's doing.
Date published: 2013-10-10
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good series beginning Morgan Stockhour lives on the island of Internment, which is an island floating in the sky way above the ground. Her older brother Lex was a jumper and Morgan doesn’t want to end up like him, so she does her best to pretend she doesn’t wonder about why the ground is forbidden. Then there’s a murder, first in as long as she’s been alive, and Morgan can’t contain her curiosity, especially after becoming convinced that the boy accused is innocent. This is my first experience with a Lauren DeStefano book. I do plan on eventually reading the Chemical Garden books and after reading this one, Wither has crept up the TBR list. I love the cover of this book. There’s so many little details that become apparent the more you look at it, even though it appears quite simple at first glance. And I find that black and read work so well on book covers together. The book felt like a cross between the dystopian elements of Matched and the City of Ember. One of the biggest problems I had with the book was, other than when a character would mention the ground or being thankful to the God of the sky, it didn’t feel like they were on some floating island. On the plus size, it was obvious a lot of thought went into the issues that would arise with the lack of space available(population control, food, etc). I really loved the little quotes at the beginning of each chapter, each one taken from an essay that plays a part in the plot. And a lot of the characters have little hinted side stories to make them feel like real characters instead of plot devices. The main character, Morgan, I found to be quite relatable most of the time, and her actions were understandable even when I couldn’t relate. Her and her betrothed Basil were cute and loving together but I was more drawn to the fiery back and forth of Pen and Thomas. I’m excited to see where DeStefano takes them in book two. The plot didn’t really draw me in until about 2/3 through the book. Morgan has a lot of inner debating and even when there’s a murderer on the loose, there’s not a lot of action or even reaction, which seemed a little weird considering it’s been so long since there’s been a murder. Once the action started to pick up, it was hard to put down and ended up turning into a ‘just one more chapter’ book until the last page. And the ending really sets up book two quite beautifully. I definitely plan on picking it up. *I received an ARC of this book from the publisher for an honest review.
Date published: 2013-09-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Although nothing is perfect, this sure comes close Originally posted at Ficsane Reads. ( This is the first Lauren DeStefano book I’ve read so I can’t compare it to her Chemical Garden series. What I do know is that PERFECT RUIN is so unbelievably great that the story still lingers in my mind, even hours after I have finished reading the book. PERFECT RUIN takes “unique plot and amazing premise” to a whole new level. From start to finish, it is impossible to not be drawn into the story and its complex, wonderful characters. The little quotes at the beginning of each chapter, which came from Daphne Leander’s essay, are my favourite. They are thought-provoking, and although, yes the idea has been presented out there, somewhere, somehow by someone else, DeStefano was still able to render the idea in her own way. ROMANCE. "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 that we don’t about soltitude?" (168) This may be the first book I’ve read where the lover of the main lead had been established from the beginning. In Perfect Ruin, everyone has a “betrothed” – also known as a fiance. In the world of Internment, everyone born are immediately paired with someone – and everyone has a partner. Unless your partner died then you’re forever alone (sucks). I really liked this new take on romance. I’ve read countless of books so I’m not too sure but this really stands out as the very first book I’ve read that had the romance established. Initially, I had thought that this will be the main issue of the story: having people assigned to you for eternity. I kept thinking, what if Morgan falls for someone else? what if Morgan just doesn’t feel anything for him? What if? Despite my questioning, Morgan never proved any of these. Although all I can say without spoiling is that the little other fragments of the story – in other words, other characters, may or may not shed light on this aspect. This book, like many other books, is NOT finding who you are while finding who you love. Instead, this book is about finding out the mysteries of your world, understanding who you are, while having someone at your side – and there is nothing better than having someone there for you, supporting you all the way. Absolutely loved this take on romance! CHARACTERS. Morgan Stockhour – I initially disliked her, but then I gradually realized my annoyance for her naive-ness was the problem. Around halfway the book, the growth of Morgan’s character made sense and in the end, I’m so proud of her as she finally opens her eyes to see that her world is everything but perfect, thus inevitably making me love her. Basil Crowl – He’s not your typical YA hottie – and that makes me all the more drool-worth. I love Basil’s character, at first, my theories made myself skeptic about him but that still didn’t prevent me from loving him and his personality. Alexander “Lex” Stockhour – I love this character the most because I could relate to his curious mind, always questioning, very skeptic of things and knowing that the world isn’t perfect, nor will it ever be. I love how he’s blind, I love the risks he has taken to find the answers he seek, even though it had caused him. I love his relationship with his wife, Alice. Each time they interact, I just fan girl so much. I can’t help it! Falling in love with Alexander Stockhour’s character is as inevitable and vital as breathing. Daphne Leander - I LOVED all the beginning quotes from each chapter from her essay, “Intangible Gods” – love, love, love it! I hope DeStefano includes the entire full length essay as a bonus on the final copy or something. THE WORLD OF INTERNMENT. I am fascinated with the whole Internment world. I love the mention of “the ground” what life must be like there. The world building of Internment took this book to a whole new level. I absolutely love it! THE UNFORESEEABLE OCCURRENCE OF EVENTS THAT MADE THIS BOOK SO PERFECT. It’s Chapter Twenty (I’m not sure what chapter it would be in for the final copy). I think that this event, this unfortunate happening of event was essential to the plot. That was so good! I usually see these kind of events coming but obviously not this. Kudos to DeStefano for making me tear-up. If you want to read a book that has the right amount of everything that equated to imperfect perfections, complex characters that will stay with you forever, a world filling your mind with fascination and wonder then this is your book and although nothing is perfect, PERFECT RUIN surely comes close to it.
Date published: 2013-08-14

Read from the Book

Perfect Ruin 1 You have all heard the warnings about the edge. We have been told its winds are a song that will hypnotize us, and by the time we awaken from that trance, it will be too late. —“Intangible Gods,” Daphne Leander, Year Ten wE LIVE ENCAPSULATED by the trains. They go around in a perfect oval at all hours, stopping for thirty-five seconds in each section so the commuters are able to board and depart. Beyond the tracks, after the fence, there’s sky. Engineers crafted a scope so that we can see the ground below us. We can see tall buildings and other sorts of trains—some of which disappear underground or rise onto bridges. We can see patches of cities and towns that appear stitched like one of Lex’s blankets. We’ve never been able to craft a scope advanced enough to see the people—it isn’t allowed. We’ve been banished to the sky. I’m told they can see Internment, though. I wonder, what must we look like to them? A giant oval of the earth with rocks and roots clinging to the bottom, I suppose. I’ve seen sketches of what Internment looks like as a whole, and it’s as though a giant hand came down and took a piece right out of the ground, and here we are floating in the sky. When I was a child, I used to think about the day Internment was ripped from the ground and placed in the sky. I used to wonder if the people were frightened, or if they felt fortunate to be saved. I used to imagine that I was a part of Interment’s first generation. I’d close my eyes and feel the ground under my feet going up and up and up. “Ms. Stockhour,” Instructor Newlan says, “you’re dreaming with your eyes open again. Page forty-six.” I look at the textbook open before me and realize I haven’t been keeping up with the lesson since page thirty-two. “I don’t suppose you would care to add to our discussion.” He always paces between the rows of desks as he lectures, and now he’s stopped before me. “The festival of stars?” I say, but I’m only guessing. I have an incurably wandering mind, a fact that has given Instructor Newlan much cheerful cause to torture me. The chorus of chuckles from my classmates confirms I’m wrong. “We’ve moved on to geography,” Pen says from beside me. She glances from me to the instructor, curls bouncing around her cheeks and creating a perfect ambiance for the look of contrition on her face; if Instructor Newlan thinks she’s sorry for speaking out of turn, he won’t give her a demerit. He likes her; she’s the only one left fully conscious after his geography lectures—she’d like to work on the maps when she’s older. He gives her a wry glance over his glasses, flips my book to the correct page, and goes on. “I do realize that it’s December first,” Instructor Newlan says. “I know we’re all excited for the festival of stars to begin, but let us remember that there is plenty of class work to be done in the meantime.” The festival of stars is a monthlong celebration, and in the excitement and preparations, it’s common for students and adults alike to daydream. But while the rest of Internment daydreams of normal things—gifts and requests to the god of the sky—I dream of things that are dangerous and could have me arrested or killed. I stare at the edge of my desk and imagine it’s the end of my little world. After the class is over, I wait for Basil before I move for the door. He always insists on catching the same shuttle to the train so he can escort me home. He worries. “Where does your mind go?” he asks me. “She was thinking about the ground again,” Pen teases, linking her elbow around mine and squeezing against me. “I swear, with all your daydreams about the ground, you could be a novelist.” I will never be disciplined enough to write a novel, not like my brother, Lex, who says I’m too much of an optimist to have any artistic prowess. We walk quickly. Pen is trying to avoid Thomas, her betrothed, and the way she keeps glancing behind us, she isn’t even being inconspicuous. We make it into a shuttle with hardly a second to spare. The shuttles are electric vehicles that are much smaller than train cars and therefore are usually crowded. We stand huddled by the door. Pen deflates with a quiet sigh of relief. Thomas is just leaving the academy as we depart. Basil grips the overhead handle, and I grab his arm as a jolt knocks me into him. The reason for our betrothals is never explained to us, but I like to think the decision makers knew Basil was going to be taller than me. It can only be an act of good planning, the way my head fits into the hollow between his neck and shoulder. I keep hold of Pen’s wrist so she doesn’t stumble, but she has no problem keeping her balance. She’s staring out at the clouds full of evening sunlight. They meander alongside Internment, but just when I think they’ll hit us, they evade, slipping under or over our little world like we’re a stone in their waters. Internment is encased by a sphere of wind that prevents the clouds from entering our city, though they seem close enough to touch. The shuttle stops, pushing strangers into us. We’re lucky to be so close to the door, because everyone rushes to get out at once, hoping to catch the train so they won’t have to wait for the next one. The train is not very crowded when we board, aside from the seats at the head of the car that are occupied by a group of pregnant women, chattering with one another about the details of their birthing class. Judging by their stomachs, I’d guess they’re carrying a round of January births. The higher grades let out an hour after most work shifts end, and the younger children have another hour yet of classes. We find an empty row of seats wide enough to fit the three of us, and I deliberately usher Basil in first so that Pen won’t be the one to sit by the window. She has spent enough time staring at the clouds. “They’ve already started decorating for the festival of stars,” I say, nodding to the silver-colored branches that frame the ceiling of our train car. From the branches hang little metal toys and trinkets that are meant to symbolize human desire—toy trains and books and miniature couples holding hands, the brass silhouette of true love. The festival of stars overtakes the city in the month of December. It’s a time for giving gifts to our loved ones to show our gratitude for having them in our lives. And on the very last day, we’re allowed to make one big request of the god in the sky. Each request is written on a special piece of parchment that we aren’t meant to share with anyone else. The entire city gathers together, and our pieces of parchment are set on fire and cast into the sky, like hundreds of burning stars. We cling to one another and watch as our greatest desires are carried off and eventually extinguished, to be answered or denied. “They’ve asked me to help with the murals this year,” Pen says, raising her chin in a modest show of pride. “Apparently one of the instructors recommended me to the festival committee.” “It’s about time,” I say. “You couldn’t keep your talent a secret forever.” She smiles. “I’m a bit nervous, if I’m going to be honest about it. All those people telling me what to draw. I’ve never been good at taking orders.” She takes my shoulders and faces me away from her so that she can weave my straight dark hair into a braid. She says I waste my beauty, letting my hair fall over my shoulders like a mop. Basil doesn’t comment on my appearance at all, although sometimes he says he hopes our children have my blue eyes; he says they make him think of what the water on the ground must look like. We’ve never seen it from up close, but we have the lakes here, which are sort of green. “If they boss you around, just call it artistic license,” Basil says. “You can convince them to see it your way. You’re a good debater.” “That is true,” Pen says cheerily. “Thanks, Basil.” The train stops, and everyone getting off at the nearest section rises to their feet, but their haste is replaced by confusion. This isn’t the platform. Basil cranes his neck and tries to see ahead, but Pen is the one to notice the lights first. She abandons my braid, and my hair falls, undone. She jabs my ribs and says, “Look.” Red-and-white medic lights are flashing off in the distance. People around us are murmuring. There are medical emergencies sometimes, and despite the organization of the shuttles, accidents happen when people get too close to the moving vehicles. Once, there was an hour’s delay after one of the cattle animals broke through a fence and was struck by a train. Pen and I start to get to our feet for a better look, but a jolt forces us back into our seats. We start moving again. But something is wrong. The scenery moves in the wrong direction. We’re going backward. Pen is alight with excitement. “I didn’t even know the train could go backward,” she says. “I wonder if it puts any strain on the gears.” At times her curiosity makes her brave. I bite my lip, look out the window because no matter which direction we go, the sky looks the same. And the sky is familiar. The sky is safe. There’s a half mile of land on the other side of the fence that lines the train track; I’ve never set foot on the other side of the tracks—we aren’t supposed to—but Lex has. On Internment, you can be anything you dream—a novelist or a singer, a florist or a factory worker. You can spend entire afternoons watching clouds so close that it’s as though you’re riding them. Your life is yours to embrace or to squander. There’s only one rule: You don’t approach the edge. If you do, it’s already over. My brother is proof of that. He has successfully quieted any delusions I held about seeing the ground for myself. My stomach is doing flip-flops, and I can’t decide if it’s excitement or fear. I force myself to look away from the window, and my eyes find Basil’s. Some of the other passengers seem excited, others confused. A man several seats down, in a black suit, has begun talking to Pen about how trains have emergency systems, and shuttles too. He says that the train has moved backward before, several years before she was born, when repair work needed to be done on the track. “So it could be that something just needs to be fixed,” he says. One of the pregnant women is staring past Basil and me, out our window at the sky. 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’re desperate. “All this backward motion is starting to make me dizzy,” I say. “It’s only because you’re worried,” Basil says. “You have great equilibrium. What was that spinning game you used to play when we were in first year?” I let out a small laugh. “It wasn’t a game, really. I just liked to count how many times in a row I could spin without falling down.” “Yes, but you would do it everywhere you went,” he says. “Up and down stairs, and in the aisles of the train, and all along the cobbles. You never seemed to get dizzy.” “What an odd thing to remember,” I say, but it makes me smile. I would spin around the apartment from the time I awoke in the morning, jumping around my older brother and spinning after each step as we shared the mirror in the cramped water room. It drove him mad. One morning as he was fixing his tie, he warned me that if I kept spinning, I’d be stolen by the wind and carried off into the sky. “We’ll never get you back then,” he said. The words were meant to frighten me, but instead they filled me with romantic notions that became a part of my game. I began to imagine being carried on the wind and landing on the ground, seeing for myself what was happening below our city. I could imagine such great and impossible things there. Things I didn’t have words for. The madness of youth made me unafraid.

Editorial Reviews

"Definite excitment...."