Monday, February 04, 2013

Review: The Ruining by Anna Collomore

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The Ruining
Anna Collomore
Genre: YA Mystery/Thriller
Publication date: February 7th 2013
by Razorbill

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.

*A copy was provided by Penguin Canada for review*

I’ve always found something fascinating about mental illness. As much as I find it fascinating, though, it’s equally terrifying. It renders you helpless to your own mind, and oftentimes medication can not be relied upon. The Ruining is the perfect read for those who also share the same intrigue on our brain’s workings–or malfunctions. Reminiscent of the short story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Yellow Wallpaper (super short and seriously creepy ending), The Ruining is the story of a girl whose sudden nanny opportunity is starting to seem too good to be true.

You’ve probably noticed that I’ve been reading a lot of great mind f*cks lately–I’ve been on a great run!–, it seems like each one I read is better than the last, and you can be sure this one will give you a run for your money! At her new job as a nanny, it all seemed so surreal how lucky Annie was to get this great job. A rich neighborhood, a giant house, even a cute boy next door. However, things have been starting to get weird when Annie’s memory seems to be faulty, and she’s had this… feeling, that something is just not right. It looks like Annie is going mad, and honestly, I felt like I was going insane right along with her. I felt anxious and creeped out both by Libby–the mother–and Annie’s actions. I was made to question absolutely everything that was happening, never quite sure what to believe. Annie’s narrative is especially convincing of her fragile state of mind. I found myself lost in her own confusion so deeply that I started to feel like I was losing my own marbles just by trying to keep it all straight. As far as mind f*cks go, it can hardy get any better than this! This is especially surprising considering the bigger picture of the mystery is not all that hard to figure out, it doesn’t change the threatening, sinister feeling that gets greater as you advance in the story. Anna is a master at building suspense!

This leads me to Annie’s mother. A woman who goes from the sweetest employer to a raving bitch in mere days, as if she was bipolar. I thought it made her such a great character in this type of story as you never know what will cause her next freak-out, or if she gets like that because she’s secretly enjoying mentally torturing Annie. The whole book has this same tone, you never quite know who’s at fault, here. Even the little girl started to give me the creeps with her constant humming of that nursery rhyme.

Annie’s rock and the only sane part of the book, is Owen. She finds a friend, and then more, in the boy next door. I thought the romance was sweet, and Owen incredibly likeable. He’s a truly good guy, and it’s sad to say that these have been rare in YA lately. With all the suspense in the story, I did not dwell on the romance very much, but it’s a great way to balance out the insanity, giving our minds a mental break.

It’s really hard to review this type of book because everything is a spoiler. I want to talk about the ending, I want to praise things about it, and complain (minorly) about others. Aside from its predictability, all I can say is I thought it ended a little “easily”. As if after the mystery was revealed, the author wanted to be done with the story while still having it end all nicely tied up. It’s minor in the larger picture, but I was hoping for something a little more dramatic–even an ambiguous and disturbing ending like The Yellow Wallpaper would have been preferred. Needless to say, this book is fantastic and the ending only bumped it slightly to the 4star side–otherwise, it would have gotten the full 5 stars it greatly deserves for messing with my mind so completely!

4 Hot Espressos

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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.
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30 Responses to “Review: The Ruining by Anna Collomore”

  1. Jenni @ Alluring Reads

    Right? It’s so hard to review mind fuck books because so much of it would be giving stuff away! I really need to read this so I will be picking it up on Tuesday. I’m so excited! I love it when my mind gets fucked!

  2. Mary @ BookSwarm

    You really have been reading a lot of messed-up-in-the-head books lately! I can really only read one every blue moon because I’m such a chicken and get freaked out pretty easily. That itchy feeling between Anne’s shoulders, the one that tells her something is off? *shudder* I’m creeped out enough, just by your review!

  3. Amy

    Awesome review chick!! My review goes up on Wednesday for this!! I loved how much this book messed with my mind!! I totally agree with the ending though. It seemed so blah and easy after such a fantastic book.

  4. Christina

    I wasn’t sure about this one, but now I think I want it. Mindfuck books are awesome. AND the romance sounds so well done and like it will not make me want to bash my head into the wall. That’s always a boon.

  5. Sirtsu

    Eek! I skipped your review through, because I want to read it without knowing nothing more than this awesome synopsies, but I love that it’s a mindfuck book. I can’t wait to read it and I’m so glad you liked it. Hopefully I won’t be disappointed either:)

    Siiri @ Little Pieces of Imaginations

  6. Nick

    OK! I wasn’t so interested in this title at first, but now that I’ve read your review, I’m convinced that it’s worth the try. Sounds like there’s a lot of suspense going on in this book and the characters sound so exciting. Especially the sweet-turned-bitch mother. I can’t wait!
    Great review, Giselle! 🙂

  7. Shooting Stars Mag

    Sounds like this was written very well. Bummer about the ending. I have read and highly enjoyed The Yellow Wallpaper, so I wouldn’t mind a book that ended similarly to that…not everything has to be so wrapped out. Besides that, sounds like a winner!

  8. Faith Sullivan

    Mental illness is a topic that needs to be addressed. And with books like THE RUINING and films like SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK – it’s all about educating ourselves about something that affects a lot of people.

  9. Leanna (Daisy Chain Book Reviews)

    This book has been sitting pretty right at the top of my wish list for a long time. I can’t wait to read it! The synopsis initially reminded me a little of Tighter by Adele Griffin, and I loved that one so hopefully I’ll love this one too! 🙂

  10. Amanda @ MarvelousCatoReviews

    I just heard about this book a few days ago, and I instantly added it to be TBR list when I read the synopsis! This sounds like my kind of story!

    This was such a great review, and you definitely made me even more excited to read it!

  11. Camille Picott

    OMG, I remember reading The Yellow Wallpaper in school and it WAS creepy! Sounds like this book was incredibly well-written, although it might be a bit too heavy for me.

  12. Renae M.

    Ah, I’m so excited to read this! And Giselle, your review basically proved to me that I need to get my hands on it. If I had a list of things “Renae Rquires from Excellent Books” this review ticked all the boxes. Mental illness, genuinely good love interest, creepy mind games, etc. it’s too bad about the somewhat disappointing end and the predictability, but it still sounds super awesome.

  13. Jasprit

    I too love books which mess with your mind especially when they’re done so well. I had high hopes for this book when I first heard about it, so it’s good to know it doesn’t disappoint! Brilliant review Giselle! 🙂

  14. Alexa Y.

    I love how this one seems to toy with the mind. It sounds like such a creepy book, and one that will have me reeling from what I’m reading! I’m glad you enjoyed it 🙂

  15. Kelsey@TheLostBookReports

    I really have wanted to read this book and as I clicked on your review.. I was hoping to find a splendid review and not a 2 star one. I am glad this book was great and your review, really captured the creepiness, that you say this book has. I am excited to read it!

  16. Millie

    Fantastic review! This book looks like it will not only scare the shit out of me, but it will also knock my socks off. I love mental thrillers! Though, I haven’t read anything with mental illness in it O.o Giselle…first the maniacal methods of eating our snack foods, now our fascination for mental illness thrillers. ;D
    Cheers!

    Millie @ Millie D’s Words

  17. Eileen

    OMG Giselle I cannot handle serious mind warping! But I still really want to read this because creepy thrillers have been a big hit lately and there are so many good and bad ones and this is definitely one of the good ones, it sounds like! And and AND, the books where you can’t talk about anything in great depth because it would be a spoiler are the BEST books. Legit.

    Awesome review as always! I’m glad you loved this one and thought it was really suspenseful 🙂

  18. Jesse Burgoyne

    Everything about this one screams creepy. Which is why I’m so drawn to it. I loved The Yellow Wallpaper when I read it, even though it was disturbing and sort of on the boring side. For some reason creepy just gets me everytime. And I’m glad to hear that there’s a nice boy to balance out all that creep. Glad you enjoyed this one 🙂

    Jesse @ Pretty In Fiction

  19. Megan R

    This one sounds very cool. I agree that there’s something fascinating about being inside the head of someone with mental illness. I might need to check this one out.