Thursday, August 19, 2010

Ruined by Paula Morris: Review
Posted by Tiffany at 10:26 AM
Title: Ruined
Author: Paula Morris (biblio)
Published: August 1, 2009 by Scholastic
Pages: 304 (Hardcover)
Price: $7.49 Book Depository  $8.99 Amazon
Rating: 3/5
Synopsis: Rebecca couldn't feel more out of place in New Orleans, where she comes to spend the year while her dad is traveling. She's staying in a creepy old house with her aunt. And at the snooty prep school, the filthy-rich girls treat Rebecca like she's invisible. Only gorgeous, unavailable Anton Grey seems to give Rebecca the time of day, but she wonders if he's got a hidden agenda. Then one night, in Lafayette Cemetery, Rebecca makes a friend. Sweet, mysterious Lisette is eager to talk to Rebecca, and to show her the nooks and crannies of the city. There's just one catch: Lisette is a ghost. 

A ghost with a deep, dark secret, and a serious score to settle. 

As Rebecca learns more from her ghost friend -- and as she slowly learns to trust Anton Grey -- she also uncovers startling truths about her own history. Will Rebecca be able to right the wrongs of the past, or has everything been ruined beyond repair?

Initial Thoughts: I picked up this book, at first, because of the cover.  I enjoy a good ghost story, and once I realized that it was set in New Orleans, I was hooked. The ghost having 'a serious score to settle' was icing on the cake. 

Review :  I'd like to start off by saying that this book is definitely worth a read. That said, I'll admit that I didn't think I was going to be able to finish it. It took me about a week to read the first hundred pages and this is NOT a difficult book. The main character, Rebecca, is 15/16 years old. Her dad has to go to China on business so she goes to stay with a family friend for six months in New Orleans. If I was shipped off to New Orleans for six months (she gets to live in the Garden District!) I would be ecstatic. Rebecca hates it. She has a major chip on her shoulder from the moment she lands at the airport. She makes her mind up about everyone she meets the second she sees them. She whines about everyone being 'snobby' before she even talks to them. She makes no effort at all to make friends or understand their customs, which she immediately decides are backwards and stupid. She even expresses surprise that they're not all hicks. Basically, Rebecca is a huge elitist and it made her a very disagreeable character. I hated her for 90% of the book. I was actually hoping that she would die. Another thing that bothered me- she didn't read like a 15/16 year old girl to me. For one thing, she said she'd never noticed or liked boys before. (They're all smelly and ridiculous, she says) I'm not saying that 15/16 is the age to be dating like crazy, but by then most girls have at least noticed  a boy. She just felt more like a middle-schooler, maybe 10 or 12 years old. Her cousin, who was supposed to be 12, had the mentality of an 8 or 10 year old girl. I think the author just doesn't have much interaction with anyone under the age of 25. It feels a lot like those books written for teenagers in the 80s that were frustratingly out of touch with the younger generation. Now for the rest of the book. By page 150, I was flying through this book. I began to realize that the plot was AMAZING. You don't realize how much there is to the story until things start to come to a head. I can't really tell you anything without giving it away. One thing I loved about this book was that the author knew when to withhold information. Too often an author will give you one clue too many and you'll have the whole thing figured out by the third chapter. In this case, you have a vague idea and then WHAM! things go in a different direction and you're dying to know just what, exactly, is going to happen. I still didn't care whether Rebecca lived or died, but I sure as hell wanted to know what was going on with that ghost! I think the problem with this book is that the author spent ages on crafting an intricate, interesting, clever plot and about five minutes filling in the characters and fleshing out the story. That's a bit harsh. What I mean is that I think she concentrated so much on the plot that she didn't give enough time to the actual telling of the story. 

Quick Review: This book is worth a read for the intricate, surprising plot, but the characters are definitely lacking. I think this author might do better writing adult fiction. This would be a good book for middle-grade readers.