Book Review – Ruin by Rachel Van Dyken

by Maryse on August 18, 2013 · 8 comments

in My Book Reviews

Heartwarming, heartbreaking, and infused with a message that is quite possibly… life changing.

I purchased this book without having read the synopsis, but had a good idea of what I was about to encounter by the expressive recommendations I had been receiving. I trusted my fellow readers and went into this one fairly “blind” other than when I noticed a fellow reader mention that she needed a light happy read after this one, I knew I was in for some emotional pain.

And I’m going to tell you that despite my initial trepidations with the start of the story (and the character interactions), my neck (throat?) physically ached at a certain point. ‘Cause my heart was in there.

Lisa: … Ruin.  And my heart can’t take another seriously angsty book (is that even a word??)  Maybe you could start a “list” of books that are not going to have you crying, tearing your hair out or wanting to read the last page JUST so you can get through the book.  Happy books. <— side note: you bet, Lisa. I need one too, right about now. ;)

Tammy: This book should be at the top of your TBR – it was right up there with Hopeless for me.

Bianca: I am currently reading ‘Ruin’ by Rachel Van Dyken, I am 65% through and have loved every single page. It’s a quick easy read! Even though *spoiler* made me apprehensive, it has been nothing but butterflies in your stomach inducing! <— side note: Luckily my husband got to this email before I did, and was sweet enough to hide it from me ’cause even that tiny *spoiler* might have been too much for me. But he made sure to tell me that he liked this recommendation and I needed to read this book!

Sarah: You will cry, you will laugh, you will cry again, then feel empowered to LIVE!! This is an amazing love story with the ever-present, deep-rooted reminder that each day is a gift. You will not only fall in love with these characters, but you will be encompassed by their spirit! This is a story that I will reflect on often, and one that I will re-read for years to come.

Yep!!! What she said. ↑↑↑ All of the she’s up there. ↑↑ ;) And you know what? This one was refreshing in that, the looming secret… that “thing” that would eventually devastate me, that thing that I would have thought was a spoiler, was not hidden from me. Of course, it came to me in bits (there was still some guessing going on), but I knew what I was getting into pretty much from the book’s getgo .

I didn’t have all of the details but I knew enough. No sucker-punches, here. This wasn’t that kind of story. It didn’t rely on shock-value, or twists that I didn’t see coming (although we all know I love those. ;) Being shocked right out of my chair is my favorite!) But nope. There were no earth-shattering revelations per se, but it still had it’s own version of *oomph*.

And I’ll admit, at first I wondered how I could possibly connect deeply enough considering where I knew we were headed. I am my own worst enemy sometimes when it comes to books, and if I “know” certain… “somethings”, I have a bad habit of unconsciously holding myself at arms length and not experiencing it fully. No spoilers or anything like that… just that, the author laid it all pretty much out in the open right from the start. I thought I knew what I was in for (and therefore already in “protect-myself” mode), but it couldn’t be that simple, could it? Maybe… but I was forgetting the bigger picture. And the author’s purposeful writing eventually took me there.

So what’s it about? I’m going to super-short-form it.

She (inexperienced) had personal and emotional issues to contend with (due to a tragedy)…

… most of the time I felt that way, lost, like a missing puzzle piece that forgot it was a part of the rest of the puzzle. The outcast, the loner…

… and he (rich and famous playboy) had a secret and his own personal and emotional issues to contend with. They have a “meet-cute” during her college enrollment and become instant friends (although at first, she tries to avoid him… but he pursues).

” – I believe,” he said, smirking, “that I said I’d help you.”

“I don’t need that kind of help,” I whispered.

“Huh?” He stopped and then burst out laughing. “Holy sh!t, I think I may love you.”

Heart meet stomach.

There are a few rumors about him that some feel the need to warn her about.

“You his new project?”

I turned around. “Project?”

The girl was gorgeous. Her legs went on forever, she had a tight white dress on, and her black hair hung in loose curls around her chest.

“Yup, project.” She grabbed a cup of beer and drank. “He picks a freshman every year.”

And let’s just say that he has a few mysterious things about him, that certainly have her hesitant to get close. He calls her “Lamb” and she refers to him as “The Wolf” (just to give you an idea). ;)

And while I’ll also admit that I was unnerved by how quickly these students bonded…

“Did you just compare your sexual prowess to Chuck Norris’s karate skills?” I asked.

“Same thing.” Gabe shrugged.

Okay… that made me giggle. :D

… and how über-fast this story moved as a whole (how quickly “love” seemed to be factoring into the first half… and how I felt I was missing *something* )…

“Why are you so protective of me? You don’t even know me.” I went to sit on the couch, waiting for Wes to come pick me up.

“No freaking clue.”

LOL! Well, at least he admits it. ;)

…the second half won me over.

Yep. I was somewhat jaded at first. But by the second half? It didn’t matter as much to me that the connections were made before I could internalize them. It didn’t matter as much to me that this freshman college student had that stereotypical “special something” that two playboy college hotties seemed to gravitate to (which of course made me eye-roll a bit). It didn’t matter so much anymore, that things moved faster (love-wise & friendship-wise) than I was able to keep up with. To bond with. That I felt I was missing out on. And it didn’t matter so much that at first I was apprehensive regarding the dialogue. Their deep, eloquent conversations. I was a little uptight vis-a-vis the hero’s wiser-than-his-years motivational speeches (considering how young he actually was). Yep. I was uptight about a lot of it.

My first impressions didn’t matter as much anymore when my eye-rolling changed into something else, entirely. My eyes starting tearing up, instead.

Was it really just about thinking about the story differently?

‘Cause eventually, it got me. It got to me. I realized that while this had that “insta-love” feel, it was about more than that. This book is inspirational, and uplifting despite (or … because of) the heart wrenching matter at hand. It had that wonderful family feel, not just by blood, but friends that became family by circumstance. How such a devastating situation could bring so many wonderful people together. And how they could learn from each other, support each other and become stronger in themselves.

A touching story and even though I didn’t actually live it, it affected me in a way that I internalized it, learned something, and it quite possibly changed me… for the better.

3 stars for first half, and 4 stars for the second (and I’m going with 3.75 stars as a whole).

Sign up for my weekly newsletter

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Celeste August 18, 2013 at 10:06 PM

Sometimes we are so closely matched in our ratings and sometimes, well sometimes I wonder if we read the same book. I felt this book was predictable and over the top cheesy. If I were think of the soppiest things to say, this book would include them. I think the overall idea was a good one, but it wasn’t executed as well as I would have like. The characters all seemed to have the same ‘voice’ and they all spoke with a maturity beyond their years. To each his own, I guess!

Maryse August 18, 2013 at 10:38 PM

Hi Celeste! I agree in terms of the predictable/sappy which was what I was feeling in the first part.

But I dunno. Sometimes, even despite the obvious “over the top” character stuff, there is something there that ties me to it. And there were a few parts in part 2 of this book that I highlighted for my own personal use, for now, and for future reference, ya know? Just a few parts that touched close to home, and I couldn’t “hate on” that second half.

Also, I’m a Disney/ABC Family/Lifetime movie enthusiast and not that this is “that” per se… but there is something about those movies that I love, even though I already know where they’re going. Even though they are somewhat formulaic, I still love the message and I get choked up.

Who doesn’t love an against all odds (whether they beat them or not) story?


Celeste August 18, 2013 at 11:24 PM

Yes, I definitely respect that if something touches you deeply, no matter what it is, that you can internalize it and learn from it. I think that sometimes I’m FAR too judgmental, but I really do appreciate these authors for putting themselves out there like they do. :)

Lauren August 19, 2013 at 10:44 PM

Just wanted to let everyone know that I noticed the new Abbi Glines book is available for pre-purchase for $3.99, marked down from $7.99. Simple Perfection, sequel to Twisted Perfection…

Melinda August 21, 2013 at 2:02 PM

It’s $0.99 on Amazon today. Can’t resist a deal like that!

Kate August 21, 2013 at 7:16 PM

I’m 30% in and can tell I’m going to love this book already. Why weren’t boys like this when I was in college?

Shani August 21, 2013 at 8:33 PM

From the review it seems a bit like Beautiful Disaster? especially the 1st half???

Rachel Van Dyken September 1, 2013 at 10:38 PM

THANK YOU so much for the review ;)

Leave a Comment


Notify me of followup comments to this post via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.

Previous post:

Next post: