Summary from Amazon:
[Earth has been almost silent for forty years. The apocalypse left behind only fragments of civilisation, surrounded by a sea of barbarism.
The End cost humanity six billion lives. Almost every person on Earth vanished when the lights went out, computers turned to dust, and planes fell from the sky. Only scattered survivors remained, surrounded by a world empty and quiet.
Now, forty years on, civilisation is failing. The ways of the Old World have been forgotten, and those who knew its wonders are ageing. All that stands between the British Isles and a new Dark Age is the mission of New Canterbury, desperate to save books, art, and the knowledge needed to begin again.
Famine has devastated the land and refugees wander in their thousands. Anger is growing against the city and the demands of its sacred mission. In the wild lands surrounding New Canterbury, dark secrets fester, supernatural forces have awoken, and somewhere an army is on the move, hell-bent on ending the Old World forever.]
Perhaps it is a very American fascination with the UK, but I found that the setting of Ruin was enough to draw me in immediately. The main characters are wandering the coast of a world I’ve long romanticized; so when I say that I thoroughly appreciated Manners’s way with description, it’s with this background coloring my opinion.
The writing is indeed rich and, maybe, a hint on the flowery side. I’m a ridiculous fan of writers like China Mieville, so I found Ruin to be exactly to my tastes. The New World is painted in gorgeous bleak tones that put me in mind of The Woman in Black or Wuthering Heights, even.
Beyond the excellent writing, the story grabbed my attention. In a rapture-like event that is never really explained, humanity simply ceases to be. A few remain, and they have built a shadow of civilization. I really liked the fact that what we’re reading is mostly from the viewpoint of the next generation–those who don’t remember the Old World at all. There’s a pretty standard “Chosen One fighting against his destiny as a leader” plot, but it’s written so expertly that I didn’t mind the simplistic device.
Woven into that story are the voices of some excellent side characters. One of my favorite parts of this novel were the interludes, where we get a peek at the generation before, building the world that our characters are now moving about in. It was just enough immediate apocalyptic horror to add a real sense of confused urgency to the world. And confused it was. I think Manners has perfectly captured what the world would look like should an apocalypse ever come.
There’s no warning, no catastrophic rumbling that signals the paranoid to build their bunkers. One moment you’re opening the door to Starbucks, hell bent on grabbing your next $9 shot of dopamine; the next, you’re standing in a world undone. It’s that simple, and that terrifying.
Ruin ends on more than one cliffhanger. I’ve never minded that, and if you’re new to the series, you’re in luck! The next book is coming out shortly. But be warned that this isn’t a book to pick up lightly. You’ll be following Manners into this world for some time to come. For the excellent writing, horribly real premise, and some very intriguing questions that left me dying for book two, I gave Ruin 5 stars. Pick this book up, guys!
Later this month I’ll be back with a review of a weird Western that’s also knocked my socks off. It’s a 5 star kind of month!
Check out Ruin and give it a read!
Guest review contributed by Rock and Hill. Their book reviews focus on the indie/self-published author. They also blog about the behind-the-scenes aspect of the book cover design process.
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