Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Wednesday Reads: Ruined

Ruined by Paula Morris is essentially a ghost story.  Set in post Katrina New Orleans, infused with snobby elitist debutants, old money, and secret murder cover ups.  The characters or voice isn't anything spectacular, but the writing is good, and the plot intriguing.

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?
First Sentence: "Torrential rain was pouring the afternoon Rebecca Brown arrived in New Orleans."  That's the first chapter.  I skipped to the first chapter because the first line of the prologue is even more uninteresting, just a place and date.  Nothing spectacular here, just sets you up for what's happening.  The first chapter isn't boring, it's well written and has good pacing.

Beefs: The only problem really, is that the book isn't spectacular.  Really, it's a good book.  Text book good.  Pacing, plot, characters, intrigue.  I read all the way through without getting bored.  Other than the descriptions of the Mardi Gras parades, it's almost forgettably good.

Brownie Points: The end.  Morris does something I think few authors would want to attempt.  Can't give it away.  But basically, what everyone is afraid of happening, happens.  And that's cool.  It made me happy.  The other great thing is the plot--the driving force behind the novel.  You meet this ghost, and at first you think Rebecca just found her new ability that she can talk to ghosts.  Well, she can only talk to the one ghost, and for a reason that shocks you.  And I love the depictions of the dead world living with ours.  Rebecca literally takes a walk with a ghost and sees what no one ever sees.  Uniqueness and originality, ten points.

Ending: As you'd expect.

Recommendation: If you like ghost stories, or New Orleans, or want something original, read it.  It's not a waste of time.

Would I represent it?  The jury's still out on that one.  I like the originality.  And I'm finding that I'm fond of books that are very regionalized, depicting one town or city in all it's glory (or ruin, considering the lasting effects of Katrina).

Happy reading!


Karen Baldwin said...

thanks for sharing how you analyse books. I think the cover is a bit cheesy though.

Heather said...

I'm adding this one to the list of books to at least pick up in the store and give a try. We'll see if it makes it to the register with me. ;) Thanks for the review!

mshatch said...

I read this, too, and agree. I enjoyed the book but I didn't love it.

Unknown said...

I haven't read many regional books, but I confess to absolutely loving the Sookie Stackhouse books (and True Blood). It's fun to read something with definite southern flavor.

And this books seems really cool--kind of twisty and turny. I'll check it out!

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Thanks for this review, Vickie. I wrote what amounts to a ghost story several years ago, so I might check this out to see how it compares.

tiftruitt said...

I picked this up at the school book fair for my classroom last year and still haven't read it yet. BUT after reading your Twenty Boy Summer review, I picked it up. Great choice. It reminded me a lot of The Summer of Skinny Dipping.

Unknown said...

Are there no other cemetaries in New Orleans? Between Ms. Morris and Ann Rice I'm conviniced that you can't toss a pie into Lafayette without hitting something paranormal. (to comic effect, I imagine)

My cliche-alarm goes off when someone starts a book with the weather, but you say it's originality is a strong feature. I think I'll wait on this one. Although, it looks like you've got the makings of your own book club, here. Just in time too, what with Oprah stepping down and all. ;) Thanks for the reviews, keep them coming.