Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Ruining by Anna Collomore [Review]

Young Adult, Psychological Thriller, Mystery, Drama
Publication.Date  February 7th 2013
Published By:  Razorbill
WebsiteAnna Collomore

The Ruining on Goodreads
My review copy:ARC of the book provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Where to get:

Annie Phillips is thrilled to leave her past behind and begin a shiny new life on Belvedere Island, as a nanny for the picture-perfect Cohen family. In no time at all, she falls in love with the Cohens, especially with Libby, the beautiful young matriarch of the family. Life is better than she ever imagined. She even finds romance with the boy next door. 
All too soon cracks appear in Annie's seemingly perfect world. She's blamed for mistakes she doesn't remember making. Her bedroom door comes unhinged, and she feels like she's always being watched. Libby, who once felt like a big sister, is suddenly cold and unforgiving. As she struggles to keep up with the demands of her new life, Annie's fear gives way to frightening hallucinations. Is she tumbling into madness, or is something sinister at play? 
"The Ruining "is a complex ride through first love, chilling manipulation, and the terrifying depths of insanity.


The reality of my life in Detroit, a reality I'd spent almost every day wishing to escape from, was gone. Disappeared, like I'd never been part of it at all. And in order to leave it in the past, I couldn't let myself worry about leaving my mother behind. She'd made her own decisions, and for years I'd had to live within a situation I'd had no choice in creating. Now, I was heading toward a new family. In California, I would reinvent myself. I would finally have the life I deserved.
I sat there with Zoe, with the distinct feeling that I didn't deserve this -- miracles didn't happen to people like me, especially after what happened with Lisa. I had this weird, disconcerting feeling of waiting for the other shoe to drop. How could I make it last? How could I make myself believe I deserved my new chance?.
But there was one way we differed: I'd never feel comfortable with all of this money. I'd never get used to feeling safe, like disaster wasn't just around the corner, like I was juts always barely escaping poverty and sadness. I'd never stop looking over my shoulder.

     Psychological thrillers are my guilty pleasure so when I first heard about The Ruining and its incredibly intriguing premise, I couldn't help it, I knew I had to get my hands on it. A YA novel inspired by one of my all-time favorite short stories, The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman? Yes, please and thank you! I expected a lot from this book and I wasn't disappointed. The Ruining is a blood-chilling and atmospheric page-turner that will have you questioning the heroine's sanity and trying to figure out what in the world is going on. Dark, bewildering and twisty, it's a thoroughly gripping tale of loss, grief, rejection, guilt and mental illness. A deeply disturbing look at one girl's broken psyche and her desperate struggle to hold on to mental equilibrium. 

    Anxious to escape the reality of her miserable life in Detroit, Annie Phillips moves to Belvedere Island, where she takes on a job as a live-in nanny. The people who hired her - the Cohens - are wealthy and welcoming. And they're new to Main County themselves. For the first time in a very long time, Annie feels hopeful and happy. She's determined to work hard and make a good life for herself, far away from her dysfunctional family and home filled with painful memories. She quickly gets attached to the Cohens, especially to Libby Cohen, who seems to be genuinely nice and caring. And very, very generous. But her happiness is not meant to last, soon enough weird things are starting to happen. First, the door to her bedroom is removed, then a wallpaper is changed to a nasty yellow color. One moment Libby is loving and supportive, the next she's aggressive and mean, controlling of Annie's every move. Is it some cruel game of cat-and-mouse or are these all hallucinations of a broken mind? Annie's life starts spiralling out of control and she can feel her sanity slipping through her fingers. 

     I really enjoyed this book. While it isn't a particularly deep or complex story, it's definitely one that keeps you on the edge of your seat all the way through. I couldn't help but feel completely freaked out by some of the things that were happening. There were moments when I really couldn't figure out what was going on. I'd go back and forth between being convinced that Libby is the "bad guy", and thinking that Annie is mentally unstable and imagining everything. I honestly couldn't tell! The author does a great job setting the mood, making you feel lost, confused, paranoid and trapped. The fluid, straightforward prose works really great with the plot. The novel's unsettling, tripping quality pulls you in and doesn't let go until the puzzle is solved. 

     The ending itself fell a bit flat. Not to mention that it felt rushed. I was hoping for more of a Shatter Island / Inception kind of ending, where you don't get all the answers handed to you on a silver plate. I like open endings. Call me a masochist, but I enjoy being mind-f**cked, analyzing the plot for clues and pondering all the possible answers to the big question: "What really happened?" Sadly, the conclusive (and therefore anticlimactic) ending of The Ruining pretty much robbed me of that pleasure, though I'm sure there are plenty who prefer it that way. I also thought that the last few chapters of the book were quite random and unnecessarily convoluted. For example, I'm still not sure what was the point of some of the scenes in the mental hospital. 

     Overall, though, this was definitely a very enjoyable, entertaining and mind-engaging read. Eerie, disturbing and gloomy, it's a story that keeps you guessing right up to the end. Fans of all things creepy and disquieting will have a lot of fun with this one!

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