by Anna Collomore
Original Publication Date: February 7, 2013
Length: 336 pages
Obtained Via: Bought
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Psychological thrillers, especially YA female POV psychological thrillers, are often some of my favorite books. There’s just something about digging down deep into people and what they’re capable of that intrigues me like nothing else. I hadn’t heard a lot of buzz around The Ruining, which is part of what inspired me in the first place. Let me tell you, that was $3 at the used book store well spent.
The Ruining follows the story of Annie, a girl from a poverty-stricken family in Detroit. She’s been admitted to college in California, and to pay for it she finds a gig as a nanny for the wealthy Cohen family. It feels perfect at first, especially since Libby, the mother, seems to take a shining to her. Soon, however, it’s like living in a different world and Annie’s not sure if the Cohens are taking advantage of her or if she is legitimately losing her sanity. The descent into madness is well-portrayed and kept me turning the pages like nothing else.
Collomore did an excellent job in portraying Annie as an isolated, slightly scared eighteen-year-old girl. Annie has gone out on her own to get away from her stepdad, which is commendable, but it also means she has literally no one to turn to. She’s on the opposite side of the country and floundering without a support system. As her job as a nanny becomes more and more bizarre, it’s not like Annie has the option to leave without losing everything. Without the job at the Cohen’s, Annie can’t afford school at all, but even with it she’s barely able to pass her classes. That portrayal of helplessness and “I’ll do anything to stay” was what really struck me.
The main question of The Ruining becomes: Is Annie losing her mind, or is Libby toying with her? Even though I had a strong guess, there were multiple passages that made me change my mind. I did see the big reveal coming early on, though. This happens 90% of the time I read a psychological thriller, so I’m used to it, but I’m always searching for that elusive book where I really am taken by surprise. That being said, I think guessing the twist ruined my enjoyment only slightly, because the much more interesting part of the book was trying to figure out how unreliable Annie’s narration really was.
The romance in this one is fairly predictable, but there’s some interesting moments. I liked how Owen, the love interest, was often a connection to the outside world for Annie, but yet he still wasn’t always enough to tether her to reality in the face of the strange family that was the Cohen. For me, that made it all the more eerie. Owen’s such a normal, boy-next-door type that it just served to show the reader how not normal Annie’s situation was, and just how much she was isolated.
The Ruining had such potential to be a 5-star book. It didn’t quite get there in the end, because of a few things in the last few chapters that made me raise my eyebrows, but overall I thought it was still an excellent psychological thriller.
If pyschological thrillers are your thing, I definitely recommend picking up The Ruining. It’s fantastically creepy. While it had a few rough spots here and there(it could have used just a little more polishing, I think), it’s well worth a read. 4/5 cupcakes.