“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.”
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.
Right from the get-go, I’ll be honest, I don’t like Ruth’s character very much. I found her to be arrogant, rude, and I got tired of the repetition of her constant inner chattering about what a winner she is, and how good and strong and brilliant she is, and what a prodigy she’s turned out to be… It got old fast. I attempted to rein myself in and not deduct too many points for her attitude, however, because the bottom line was that Ruth is, well… Ruthless. She does what needs to be done to survive, and I genuinely appreciated her steadfastness. She’s a fighter to the very end, and that was a refreshing change of pace from the “damsel in distress” story arcs that were popular in my childhood.
I also have to say that I found Wolfman to be a very intriguing villain: he’s disgusting, horrific, and absolutely the worst kind of man – there’s no excusing any of his actions – but I appreciated the way Adams wrote in a back story for him through those fleeting changes of perspective that we received, dating all the way back to his childhood, when his mother ruined redheaded women for him forever. I also found it interesting that he had this sort of creed; he wasn’t just kidnapping/raping/murdering girls for sport, but because something broken in his mind told him he was making them atone for their sins, as it were. It was an incredibly raw and fucked up view into the mind of a predator and it was much more honest than I find most authors are comfortable writing in the YA genre.
Speaking of this book being a YA thriller, the biggest reason that this book has stayed with me is because I was stunned by how far Adams was willing to take it within this genre. My experience with YA thrillers has been mostly subpar storylines with very little real action or shock, and Ruthless blew that expectation out of the water. There is some sexual content, violence, and a great deal of intensity that I think a lot of average YA readers may be uncomfortable with.
All in all, this book was one hell of a ride, with some very unpredictable (and infuriating) moments. It held my attention well enough that I read it in a day, but I can’t say that I would rush to reread this one. That said, I think it bridges the gap between YA books and thrillers smoothly, so I would feel comfortable recommending this even to readers who generally pass up the YA genre entirely. If you enjoy an intense, action-packed, suspenseful thriller – and don’t mind an MC with a larger-than-life ego – definitely pick up a copy of Ruthless and let me know what you think!
Trigger warnings: sexual abuse, abduction, child abuse/murder.