Published by Simon Pulse on July 14, 2015
Genres: YA, Thriller, Contemporary
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.
This book. Man, it was so intense. Seriously, the intensity never stopped, never even wavered. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time, probably looking something like this dog:
I keep watching that gif over and over again because I think it’s hilarious. Oh man. Okay, I need to stop. THE BOOK. Right.
Ruthless by Carolyn Adams. This is a YA thriller about a psycho serial killer who abducts Ruth, the daughter of the owner’s of a ranch he worked at. And he’s seriously psychotic. I’ve been watching a lot of Criminal Minds (I’m about to finish season 2 so I’m super nervous something crazy is going to happen) so when I heard about this book, I grabbed it up immediately. It’s basically Criminal Minds in the perspective of the victim rather than the investigators. My last book I reviewed I described as Criminal Mind-esque too. Maybe I’m just being drawn to serial killer books? I don’t know, but that last book (The Diviners by Libba Bray) is quite different as the killer was already dead. Okay, I’m getting so distracted right now.
Six Thoughts I Had While Reading Ruthless
- The writing is so visual.
Carolyn Adams is a screenwriter, and that was very apparent to me while I was reading. Everything is visual and crazy and I could picture the on-screen version perfectly in my head. More than that, I felt like I was there half the time…even though I definitely would rather have been anywhere else. Most of the book, Ruth is lost in this giant, never-ending forest and every crack of a branch, every rustle of leaves could be her killer. And I was getting legitimately nervous and stressed out.
- It’s crazy what people will do (or won’t do) for another because of fear for themselves.
There were so many opportunities where Ruth could have been rescued but wasn’t. Whether it was because they thought she was crazy and dangerous or out of fear for themselves. There were so many close calls and it just makes me wonder what I would do if I was put in a similar situation. If I saw a dirty, upset, slightly deranged girl running around…would I help her? Or would I assume she’s on drugs and silently keep moving, perhaps looking back over my shoulder in guilt (?) but still keep walking. I can’t even imagine what I would do.
- Ruth is not one of those useless damsels in distress that just freak out and blubber.
Let’s me honest. If I was abducted, I would be a useless damsel in distress, complete with freaking out and blubbering. And I’d probably be dead within two minutes. But Ruth is not that person. Her grandpa’s a sheriff and she’s a world-class equestrian (I was going to say horse-rider but that sounds super lame). So she’s trained to be tough, to not give in, to keep pushing no matter how hard or impossible it seems. And she applies those skills into this situation. She’s very rational and is always looking at all the options laid out before her. Like I said, I would just be freaking out and crawl in a hole and die. She thought about everything and acted accordingly. Except the moments when, you know, a psychotic man with multiple guns was chasing her or tying her up or threatening rape and other awful things. You know, those moments were slightly different.
- Carolyn Adams really knows how to get into the mind this crackpot.
Throughout the story, we get little excerpts of his (she calls him Wolfman) life before. Before he starting killing people. While he was still killing people (not in the literal moment of the kill). While he was trying to become “sober” again. And then when he “fell off the wagon,” as he so eloquently phrases it. But we can see into his mind, which is something both awful and awesome. I kind of love different perspectives and understanding (definitely not allowing for) someone’s character and actions.
I used to be big into Nicholas Sparks books and when I read Safe Haven, my favorite part was that he wrote in the perspective of the MC’s abusive husband. We saw his thoughts, his rationalizations, his reasoning for behind his actions. And I find that so intriguing. Is it bad that I like to see into the minds of these psychopaths and sadists? Mmm, nah.
Anyways, we see into Wolfman’s head and it’s so interesting to me because he believes he is completely justified! He knows that it’s wrong–because he does try to overcome his “addiction”–but he has reasoning that he believes 110%.
- The characterization of Ruth herself is something I’ve never seen before.
Though Ruth is the main character, though it’s in her first person point of view…we’re seeing her in a distressed state. We meet her when she opens her eyes in the back of his truck, remembering nothing about how she got there. We never hear her thoughts and learn who she is when she’s her normal self. We learn that through the eyes of her abductor, who stalked her for quite a while. Who believes she is someone worthy of punishment for her pride and treatment towards others. And that’s so interesting to me because while I was rooting for Ruth the entire time she was speaking in first-person, in these moments where we glimpse into her past, I didn’t like her. She was a jerk. Like not the typical nice person who has no bad qualities. So I kind of had a conflict in my mind over the Ruth I was seeing from her and the Ruth I was seeing in his mind. Because when I was in his mind, he’s so convinced of his actions that it’s almost easy to start thinking, “Yeah, you know. He’s kind of justified.” But then I’d have that thought and then just want to slap myself because of course he’s not justified. No one would ever be justified in doing what he does. And we definitely see the darker side of Ruth as the book goes on (I think everyone’s darker side would come out). I don’t know. And I know you’re probably thinking I’m crazy, but it’s a really interesting conflict that I don’t think anyone would understand until they read the book.
- OH MY GOSH. I’M FREAKING OUT BECAUSE I HONESTLY HAVE NO IDEA WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN NEXT.
This was a very real and very frequent thought while reading this book. Seriously, I was stressed out while reading. I had absolutely no idea what was going to happen next because the plot kept me on my toes the entire time. There wasn’t really any moments of rest. Or if there was, it was a false sense of rest. Bah. And of course you think that Ruth is going to get away. You hope, pray, cross your fingers/toes/eyes that she’s going to get away. But you never really know because there’s honestly no way that you can see for her to get out alive. Man.
Okay, don’t look at this unless you are okay with spoilers. View Spoiler »There’s a moment when she finally finds a road in the middle of the forest. She figures her best way to safety is to get a passing car to stop and help her (look at #2). Two or three cars pass, barely slowing down because they surely think she’s a crazy person. So she lies down in the middle of the road, sure that they *have* to stop for her now. And the next car does. It stops. BUT IT’S THE FREAKING WOLFMAN. Oh my gosh. I can just picture what’s going on in his mind: “This is fate. I’m meant to punish and break this girl. I lost her but I’ve been lead to her.” I was so upset at this part. I thought she was saved. But no. She ended up in a 10,000% worse situation. Still upset about this scene. « Hide Spoiler
So, basically, you should read this.
WARNING: this book is not for the faint of heart. If you like crime shows, thriller movies or books, mysteries, psychological thrillers…then you’ll like this book. And if you’ve never tried something like this before, then maybe you should try it!
And I barely heard anything about this book. I’ve seen one other review for it (and trust me, I follow a lot of book blogs). But her review was enough for me to go pick it up. Go check out Faye’s booktube review here. Seriously, it’s awesome. She does a hilarious reenactment of those useless damsels in distress, or what she calls stupidly stupid girls.
BUT I WANT YOU TO READ THIS. It’s intense and exciting and unpredictable. So go go go.