Friday, August 5, 2011

Review: Ruined by Paula Morris

Title: Ruined
Author: Paula Morris
Publisher: Point
Pages: 309
Rating: 3/5 Stars

I had this book figured out fairly early on, but that didn't make the journey less enjoyable. The plot was a bit slow to start, but sped up quite quickly in the last third. I do wish the expositiony bits had been spread out more, rather than having three or four solid chapters where the characters did nothing but talk at me.

Speaking of, I liked the characters a lot. I felt that although the characters are 16-17 years old, the novel reads a bit young, more for the junior high set than actual 16-17 year olds. Rebecca was a sympathetic fish-out-of-water protagonist and managed to avoid overt self-pity. Lisette was really interesting because despite what happened to her, she wasn't a vengeful spirit. She wasn't purposely causing death and distruction, she was just a cog in the greater supernatural machine. Even the Mean Girls weren't really mean so much as scared and desperate. The Bowman's, Sutton's and Grey's were the villians of the piece, but I think the story would have been richer had they been written in more shades of grey.

Anton was done a bit of a disservice because while Rebecca heard and witnessed the traditions and deep familial obligations associated with the Garden District families she never really understood them and I don't think that's fair. Yes, Anton was Rebecca's friend, yes, he should have stood up for what was right, but he had also been friends with these other classmates for much longer than he'd known her. There's right, there's wrong and then there's the sticky middle ground where you know what's right but in order to do it one must surmount ridiculous obstacles and sometimes throw out everything they've ever known. That is scary stuff for a seventeen year old kid and Anton's struggle shouldn't be disregarded.

Ruined is technically a ghost story, but it's not a spine-tingling page turner. Racism, classism and the sins of the past are the truly chilling aspects of this novel.

I'd also like to note that the vivid descriptions of a post-Katrina New Orleans are particularly interesting and add great depth to the atmosphere of the book.

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