I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Simon Pulse on July 14th
Genres: Contemporary, Thriller, Young Adult
Ruth Carver has always competed like her life depends on it. Ambitious. Tough. Maybe even mean. It’s no wonder people nicknamed 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 decide 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.
“I’m not going to be raped. I’m not going to be murdered. I’m going to bring him to justice so this never happens to anyone else. I’m not going to think like a victim. I’m going to think like a winner. Because that’s what I am. I’m Ruthless, by God, and I need to act like it.”
I read this book whimsically, not sure what I was going to get into. The premise seemed sound, but a young adult, dark, gritty thriller? I assumed that it would be lacking. It wasn’t. I sat down and read it straight through, but it is barely over 250 pages so it went by quick. Yet, somehow, within the pages, I got an intimate feel for both the main character and her assailant.
The main portion of the book works as a standard thriller, with almost nonstop action. There’s a few lulls in the constant fight for Ruth’s life, but they’re understandable. A girl’s got to sleep and a girl’s got to eat. Otherwise, Ruth wandered from one dangerous situation to the next, most of them caused by the killer stalking her through the woods, but sometimes natural barriers got in her way. This book quite literally had everything in it from the initial feeling of helplessness at the hands of Jerry, to white water rapids. There really wasn’t a chance for anyone to catch their breath.
The other portion of this book is told in flashbacks. Ruth’s flashbacks are standard, showing her relationship with her long time friend, but probably should be boyfriend, Caleb, but also with her parents, their bushiness, and those who come to the horse farm. Her parent’s are in the business of horses and cattle, but the horse side is failing. Her mother used to be a big shot in the competitive horsemanship ring, but she’s since faded into obscurity. Ruth is only there to win (because then maybe they can be a happy family again), and it grates on some of the other students and staff members.
Jerry’s flashbacks are mostly about him. They don’t go into the six other girls he’s subjugated and murdered for his own sick code of righteousness. They go through his bullying at school, his acquiring of the murder cabin through his uncle’s will, his knowledge of the forest, and eventually the sequence of events that brought him to abducting Ruth. He felt slighted by Ruth, for her role in getting him fired from the cattle side of her parent’s ranch. It didn’t help matters for Ruth that Jerry was recovering from his addiction to abduct and murder girls, and that his only means of support decided to walk out on him. Jerry’s relapse was to his own demise, though, as even within some humanizing portions, we realize that Jerry himself is not worth saving.
I really enjoyed the fact that despite everything, Ruth still stands by her goals. Her goals are mostly about staying alive and bringing Jerry to justice, but they’re still goals and despite losing her cool and her mental capacities at times, she still sticks to them. Like most good thrillers, there are points where you think everything is smooth sailing, when in fact, it is totally not. Even within the last pages, despite the assurances from the police force in the novel, I still expected there to be another altercation.
Overall, this book was everything I could want from a thriller. Despite having some things hinted at, it still remained dark and gritty. The allusions made fueled my imagination enough. I didn’t need it to be more graphic. Everything was mostly believable, from injuries to how someone would react to situations. There were a few portions where I had to suspend disbelief, but those were few and far between. An exciting, quick read.