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Posted February 17, 2013
The one thing from the description of The Ruining by author Anna
The one thing from the description of The Ruining by author Anna Collomore that really caught my eye was the word ‘insanity’. A hundred things went through my mind and combined with what the back of the novel told me about the novel, a thousand possibilities about the plot flew through my imagination. When I think of insanity I think of psychopathic clowns and men who just want to watch the world burn. While there were no scarred adults with purple suits, The Ruining does have bouts of insanity within its pages and does deal with manipulation and the possibility of murder. Everything about this story left me on the edge of my seat, played with my mind and toyed with my emotions.
As you can imagine, it was a fun read.
The Ruining focuses on the life of main character Annie Phillips who leaves her broken family and past behind in Detroit in exchange for the opportunity of a lifetime on Belvedere Island by becoming a nanny for the Cohen family. At first, everything looks perfect. The Cohen’s are the epitome of what a family should be, Mrs. Cohen—or Libby is the friend that Annie has always wanted and Owen, the boy next door, is beginning to steal Annie’s heart all while she goes to University and then babysits the Cohen’s three year old daughter Zoe. It’s not until Annie accidentally comes across a few old files that she discovers that Libby isn’t Walker’s first wife and that his first died. Suddenly Libby becomes bitter and hateful towards Annie and soon Annie begins to have hallucinations and finds parts of her mind slipping away. Annie finds herself delving into a world full of manipulation, insanity and secrets better left alone for Annie’s own good.
Right off the hop when reading the Ruining I knew that something was wrong with the Cohen family. I knew that something was off and that that could only lead to something far darker than what’s revealed on the surface. When I was only a couple of chapters into the novel the use of dialogue and Annie’s thoughts definitely set a tone for the story and created a consistent flow. I could also tell that something was wrong with Libby who not only reminded me of just about every psychopathic seductress I’ve ever seen in pop culture but also made a great antagonist for Annie. There’s a clash of personalities and as Libby grows more and more desperate (while Annie sinks deeper and deeper into her insanity) we see the darker sides of her character.
Insanity and mind games play a big role in the novel. As the novel progresses, Annie does begin to have more hallucinations and starts to lose her mind. While most of it is because of Libby and her possessiveness of the life she has right now, I did enjoy reading about the stages that Annie undergoes that lead to her being sent to a mental hospital. While that doesn’t happen until much later in the novel, the chapters that took place in the mental hospital were ones that left me wondering if it was Arkham Asylum creeped right out. There is one scene that I think captures the unstable minds of both Annie and Libby which is where Annie basically calls Libby out on her dislike of Zoe and pushes Libby to her limits.
The romance in the novel, I found, was pretty cute. It starts out with a somewhat clichéd encounter and soon grows into something a lot more meaningful and cute. However as Owen, the boy next door, and Annie take their relationship farther and farther the more against it Libby becomes. Soon Libby begins to put thoughts into Annie’s mind about Owen and tries to control the relationship herself even if Annie doesn’t know it. Whenever Libby is around the couple things get creepy and it doesn’t take Owen long to figure out just what is really going on in the Cohen household and what skeletons are in Libby’s closet.
I’d recommend The Ruining to fans of psychological thrillers, readers who are looking for a novel that they will grow addicted to and readers who want a novel that will play out in your mind like a movie.
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