“A spine-tingling debut about the ultimate game of cat-and-mouse in reverse as a teen struggles to retain hope—and her sanity—while on the run from a cunning and determined killer.
Ruth Carver has always competed like her life depends on it. Ambitious. Tough. Maybe even mean. It’s no wonder people call her Ruthless. When she wakes up with a concussion in the bed of a moving pickup truck, she realizes she has been entered into a contest she can’t afford to lose.
At a remote, rotting cabin deep in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Ruth’s blindfold comes off and she comes face-to-face with her captor. A man who believes his mission is to punish bad girls like Ruth. A man who has done this six times before.
The other girls were never heard from again, but Ruth won’t go down easy. She escapes into the wilderness, but her hunter is close at her heels. That’s when the real battle begins. That’s when Ruth must decides just how far she’ll go in order to survive.
Back home, they called her Ruthless. They had no idea just how right they were.”
Exquisite. Absolutely exquisite. The YA genre lacks great thrillers. Sure, I’ve read some good ones, but most aren’t exclusively thrillers. Usually, they have sci-fi elements and occasionally they have fantasy woven in. Still, even if you classify those novels as ‘thriller’ and then weighed those books against other genres, it’d still be the smallest genre of YA fiction. This novel is pure thriller, and it has one of the best qualities I’ve ever seen.
It perfectly balances the physical struggle, and the psychological struggle of Ruth. It juggles the two, and handles them with grace and grittiness. It’s real, but it doesn’t overly focus on one element or the other. Carolyn’s writing is top caliber, and I’ll definitely keep my eye out for any of her future works. Some authors get lucky with their debuts, they put all of themselves in their first novel, and then they never again reach the bar that their first novel set.
But, I can definitely tell that Carolyn is not one of those writers. I don’t know entirely what I should say about the content itself. The nature of thrillers, is that they are of singular motive. Usually, with one theme. Survival. There aren’t often loads of subplots, and that’s how it should be. But we do see two primary subplots and they were woven effortlessly in to the story.
We have a flawed character, coming to terms with trauma, and introspection. Throughout the story, she flashes back to moments in her past, which help us understand her mindset, her personality, her skills, her flaws and her doubts. Some readers may think that these flashbacks disturb the reading flow. I’m usually not a huge fan of flashbacks (for that very reason.) But these flashbacks are executed in a non-frivolous manner, and makes Ruth’s survival totally void of any Dues Ex Machina action. PERFECT. The ending was just right.
It Tipped on the razor edge of emotional hurt, and emotional healing. Ruth grows during the experience, and in the end, the scene is a tender one. A beautiful, stark contrast to the rest of the novel. It’s just so flawless. I’m so glad I picked this one up. I recommend it to absolutely anyone looking for a heartfelt and raw read.
It’s worth noting that Ruth’s suffering was something I identified with. My own story isn’t as physical as Ruth’s, but my heart was in the same place as hers in regards to self-sacrifice and survival. The reason I bring this up, is as a warning. While her suffering endeared her to me, I’m not sure if someone who went through a more physical trial than me would have problems reading about such an experience.
I will absolutely be looking forward to the rest of Carolyn Lee Adams writing career.