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October 5

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Review: Ruined by Paula Morris

by Ann-Katrina

Ruined Cover

Back Cover of Ruined

Rebecca couldn’t feel more out of place in New Orleans, where she comes to spend the year while her dad is traveling. She’s staying in a creepy old house with her aunt. And at the snooty prep school, the filthy-rich girls treat Rebecca like she’s invisible. Only gorgeous, unavailable Anton Grey seems to give Rebecca the time of day, but she wonders if he’s got a hidden agenda. Then one night, in Lafayette Cemetery, Rebecca makes a friend. Sweet, mysterious Lisette is eager to talk to Rebecca, and to show her the nooks and crannies of the city. There’s just one catch: Lisette is a ghost.

A ghost with a deep, dark secret, and a serious score to settle.

As Rebecca learns more from her ghost friend — and as she slowly learns to trust Anton Grey — she also uncovers startling truths about her own history. Will Rebecca be able to right the wrongs of the past, or has everything been ruined beyond repair?

Three Quick Points About Ruined

  • Point 1: Fueled by racial tension. Handled delicately, for the most part, was the issue of race, its intermingling and its consequences.
  • Point 2: New Orleans is real. The descriptions were rendered so tangibly that I felt I was in the city itself.
  • Point 3: Mystery with a hint of romance. The story, for the most part, is Rebecca unraveling a mystery, but there was a hint of romance.

Full Review of Ruined

Before reading the full review, please note that there may be some spoilers. I tried to keep it vague enough not to spoil the entire story, but be warned. If you’d rather not take any chances, skip the synopsis and go straight to the final thoughts.

Ruined Synopsis

When Rebecca Brown’s father must take an extended business trip to China, she’s sent to New Orleans. While there, she lives with Aunt Claudia, a close friend of her father, and her daughter Aurelia.

Despite the move not being one Rebecca’s eager to make, she tries to make the best of the situation, but it’s not easy. She has to attend a prep school where your class is dependent on your family’s surname and your income bracket.

Unfortunately, Rebecca ends up at the lower end of the scale and on the radar of the higher-ups, Helena Bowman and her ilk. To pour more salt in that wound, Rebecca catches the attention of Anton Grey, a hot guy from St. Simeon that Helena and every other girl at Rebecca’s prep school has been eyeing.

Her only friend (aside from Aurelia) becomes a ghost named Lisette that she meets in the cemetery. As their friendship progresses, a mystery begins to unfold. Rebecca is then charged with discovering the reason that Lisette’s spirit has failed to move on and why only two girls can see her.

Final Thoughts On Ruined

Ruined is three things: 1) a history and cultural lesson; 2) a ghost story with; and 3) a mystery. (I could add a fourth—romance—but it was so light that it really didn’t count.) All of these elements were weaved together so well that I didn’t realize fully what was happening until I finished the book.

Yes I understood that each part was happening individually. I understood that I was learning about New Orleans and its culture, that there was a ghost whose story needed to be told, and a mystery that needed to be solved, but it was done so well that each part sustained the others.

New Orleans was painted so vividly that it became another character unto itself. It was rendered by an author who clearly loves the city.

For the most part, all the characters were nicely developed with only a few areas of contention. Helena Bowen was not nearly mean enough throughout the book to justify what she wants done (along with her mother) toward the end of the story. She comes across as more of a catty teenager with a stick up her butt than a true villainess.

Lisette’s character was delicately drawn despite being a ghost. She was sensitive and confused and frightened. She was a real girl. I especially enjoyed the trek that she and Rebecca make to learn more about Lisette’s history and the other ghosts they encounter. Each one was an individual.

Then there is the mystery surrounding Rebecca, Lisette, and Helena and their families. It’s interesting, and sometimes intense, but there were a few areas and rabbits out of the hats that threw me for a complete loop-de-loop and made me say, “Really?!?” (Yes, out loud.)

The story itself flowed nicely, but there were a few areas that yanked me out of the story altogether—some of the race relations and there seemed to be an agenda for getting teens to volunteer. These, in themselves, are not bad things, it was jarring how they were worked into the story.

Overall, the book was a fun and quick read. There is a dark element, but nothing entirely frightening. A touch of romance is included, but it’s not an overreaching theme. The sex, drugs, and violence are kept to a minimum. (There is one scene toward the end where it gets dicey, but I’ve seen worse watching Supernatural.)

Rating: Worth Every Penny [TBP - B+] (?)

Ruined: A Ghost Story is available at Amazon

Comments on Review: Ruined by Paula Morris

  1. # Non-Flaky Internet and More Good News - Today, I Read… wrote on October 5, 2009 at 5:21 pm:

    [...] was a great book (my review is officially online), so good luck to everyone who [...]

  2. # Ruined Giveaway Winners - Today, I Read… wrote on October 9, 2009 at 11:57 am:

    [...] It was a fun read with a lush description of New Orleans, so anyone who reads it should feel like they’ve been transported there if only for a few hours. [...]

  3. # Carly wrote on February 18, 2010 at 8:55 pm:

    I thought that is book was an intersting book. I thought that i would not be what i am used to reading, and i would not like it.
    But after finishing it… it is one of my favorite books at this moment!
    This book is filled with history about the past of the strange mysterious murder. The author always shows her love for New Orleans. This book also has a love story tied in.
    This book might sound weird and confusing but it is worth reading.

  4. # christi prater wrote on June 3, 2010 at 9:07 am:

    i read this book and if you like ghosts and lonely girls youll love it!

  5. # Mary wrote on June 15, 2010 at 11:09 am:

    I love Ruined I could read it all day I love all the history and such taking place all over the place in the book.

  6. # danielle ridpath wrote on September 20, 2010 at 10:44 am:

    plz dont spoil the book i just started reading it and just stop

  7. # Madison wrote on September 20, 2010 at 8:08 pm:

    This book was one of the best books i have every read in my 21 years of life.I have read so many and this is by far the best.This book isteresting,exiciting, and excellant.Paula Morris is a terriffic author. Thanks, Madison

  8. # kimi wrote on October 27, 2010 at 10:47 pm:

    love this book its so awsome!!!!!

  9. # Alison wrote on November 5, 2010 at 6:41 pm:

    I just finished reading this book, I really liked it. I would love to know what happens between Anton and Rebecca. I think there should be a second book.

  10. # jgyu wrote on January 12, 2011 at 12:58 pm:

    This book is fantabulous! Btw I rate it 5 monkeys. Ps that is a high honor!

  11. # tara wrote on March 17, 2011 at 2:29 am:

    i love it i wish they could make a movie of it

  12. # Anaoumus wrote on April 28, 2011 at 2:16 pm:

    I Loved this book, I agree with you on a lot of things, i think there should be a next one, but i would be as good, as myterious, or as, real….

  13. # Anaoumus wrote on April 28, 2011 at 2:17 pm:

    I agree, but it might not be as good…

  14. # Anaoumus wrote on April 28, 2011 at 2:18 pm:

    ^ At allison

  15. # emmy wrote on May 1, 2011 at 8:09 pm:

    Just like Alison said I wish the book told more about what happened between Anton and Rebecca and I also agree with tara I hope they make it into a movie

  16. # jessy wrote on May 3, 2011 at 9:19 pm:

    LOVED IT!

  17. # nani wrote on May 8, 2011 at 1:09 pm:

    i love this book it is awesome

  18. # The Big E wrote on May 10, 2011 at 10:55 am:

    I have never been to New Orleans, but after reading this book, I almost feel that I have. It’s that good when it comes to the description of the city, you can almost feel the heat and humidity, smell the smells, etc.

    But, other than that, I was not impressed. The story itself is VERY predictable. Also, I found the book to be extremely narrow minded, even prejudiced. Every character in the book who is a member of the city’s upper class, or who aspires to be a member of the city’s upper class, is vile, dishonest, corrupt, and thoroughly evil, except for one character who renounced his past, and another who clearly wants to. While every character who is from the middle or lower social classes is pure, and honest, and inherently good. That’s simply not the way people are – anywhere, and is, quite frankly, a bigoted point of view.

    I enjoyed reading the book for its setting, and the way the author wove the history and culture into the story, and for those elements, I would recommend it to others who are interested in those things. I will not, however, read it again.

  19. # Megan wrote on May 11, 2011 at 4:41 pm:

    I loved the book, it was great!! When I read it, I felt like I was in the story (but I feel that way about most books but in this book I felt as though I was Rebecca). When I was done reading it, I just kept on reading it over and over. I am only 12 but I know that this is the best book I have ever (and will ever) read. I love how Paula combines history, romance, and mystery all in 1 book!! It was amazing and probally the best book ever writen!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you Paula Morris ffor the best book ever!! :)

  20. # Caprie wrote on May 18, 2011 at 6:15 pm:

    love love this book….the only thing that makes me mad about it is that its not a series:(

  21. # no doubt wrote on June 30, 2011 at 6:11 am:

    I haven’t read the book, but it sounds really good…

  22. # Kelley wrote on July 26, 2011 at 2:27 pm:

    this book was the greatest book ive ever read! i have read it in like 3 or 4 days which is a record for me. :D i wish it could be a series. im going to read all of her books even though im a teenager im going to read the adult books too. she is the best paranormal book writter ever! i suggest u read this book. it has a suprise on every page. its imposible to stop reading!

  23. # Nicole wrote on November 1, 2011 at 4:11 pm:

    I love this book so much love the suspence and the romance

  24. # nicolle wrote on November 28, 2011 at 6:41 pm:

    Umm im reading this book and its a really good book its kind of scarry but i dont really like to read and when i started to read thid i didnt wanted to stop!! its a really good book! i love it!

  25. # Nicole wrote on December 6, 2011 at 12:28 am:

    I thought it was a really good book. I had to read for my reading group in English at school, but I think I might’ve read anyway!!

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