September 20, 2010

Book Review: Ruined: A Novel by Paula Morris

Another book review ~ by Sara

So what might you read after you read a fluffy but pleasing fantasy romance? Well, I chose a tween ghost story set in post-Katrina New Orleans. I'm talking about Ruined: A Novel by Paula Morris. The premise is a girl is uprooted from her New York life to go live with her aunt and cousin in New Orleans while her father is on a business trip. Rebecca, our girl, does not fit into her new school because she is an "outsider," and the story really gets moving when she sneaks into the local graveyard one night, following the popular kids. There she meet her first friend in the area, Lisette. You guessed it - Lisette is a ghost and is part of the mysterious curse afflicting the local community.

I had wanted to read this book since I stumbled on it while flitting around Amazon. I thought the cover was just the right amount of creepy and pretty. Plus, who doesn't like a ghost story? In this case, the ghostly elements were reached quickly and moved along at a good clip. The characters were likeable if a little lacking in dimension, and the story was good if a little predictable. As with many ghost stories, the ghost was the best part. Lisette's story was-by far-the most interesting. It helped that I wasn't just handed Lisette's story. I was introduced to the other players in the community first and got an idea of how their value system works. Strangely, the values were more complicated by history than simply by socioeconomic factors. In addition to the expected parts of the story, the author manages a tidy insertion of some New Orleans history. For the most part, this history was slipped into the narrative with very few ripples, and I only occasionally felt like the author was trying to tell me this or that. It was a nice change of pace from vampires, werewolves, wizards, and the more urban things that go bump in the night.

I would recommend Ruined: A Novel--with a couple of warnings. This ghost story is not very chilling. The scenes involving danger are either far in the past or presented in a way that leads you to believe nothing bad will really happen. On the positive side, at least for me, the teen angst and "coming of age" elements often found when your lead is sixteen and interested in a boy are happily limited. This book is very suitable for a younger reader or anyone with squeamish sensibilities. For light reading, this is an excellent choice. If you want to be scared, try something else.

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