‘Ruthless’ loses its energy | Review of ‘Ruthless’ (PLL, #10)

By: Cynthia Ayala

Ruthless is the second novel in the third arc of the Pretty Little Liars series.  Unfortunately, unlike it’s predecessors, this one fails in comparison with it’s daunting and stagnant characterization.

080114_0445_Ruthlesslos1.pngAuthor: Sara Shepard

Published: December 6, 2011

Publisher: HarperTeen

Series: Pretty Little Liars

Genre: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller, Coming-of-Age

These four Pretty Little Liars can’t catch a break. They thought they had it all figured out, that they would finally be safe, that they could stop looking over their shoulders. As if. A is back and she is just getting started. But these four girls haven’t been good, so A could be anyone…or could they. Spencer is convinced it’s someone she betrayed at her Summer Program and Emily is convinced it’s Alison. Her body was never found and Emily may just have a deep dark secret she’s keeping from everyone. Something wicked is unfolding and this time, A is determined to make them pay.

Ruthless is the 10th novel in the Pretty Little Liars series written by Sara Shepard. Published by HarperTeen on December 6, 2011, this novel continues to combine the mystery, coming –of-age, and young adult genres skillfully.

This was a good book, but by the end, it leaves the readers wanting more. That’s not to say that it’s bad, but many of the details are forgettable. Continuing where Twisted left off, these girls discover that they had let their paranoia get the better of them, resulting in the death of an innocent girl. But while more secrets arise, more lies are revealed, the girls are discovering bits and pieces of who they are. This could have been an amazing novel, especially since the characters, namely Hanna, are growing so much. These characters are strong individuals, but they suffer from their paranoia and their fear, the reason the plot continues to work. The pair are interchangeable, intertwined to such a degree that without the character growth the plot would be stagnant.

Unlike the rest, or rather the previous novels, while it makes the reader look in different directions, it’s obvious who the culprit is not, so the characters are being led astray. And that’s interesting because the characters are being led by their fear and paranoia before anything else. It’s not that it’s not an interesting read but whenever the book shifts right back into Spencer’s particular mindset, the writing, namely the characterization, is incredibly off putting.

Spencer’s characterization falls short compared to the rest. Her characterization is so stuck in her paranoia and fear that it prevents her character from actually progressing forward, growing and connection to her co-stars in the novel. Considering how interchangeable and intertwined the inside and outside plots are in the novel, this takes away some of the appeal because readers know it’s not who the characters think and it’s frustrating to read them fixate on this one character in particular. Spencer really is the least appealing character in this novel and the only aspect that makes it tolerable is the way her story resembles Edgar Allen Poe’s “A Tell-Tale Heart”. But otherwise, her parts hinder and limit an otherwise interesting novel.

Understandably it’s hard to keep the same plot line fresh several books later but Twisted launched readers into a new story arc that was energetic and fresh. Unfortunately, that energy did not transfer to the next book in the series. ★★½ (out of 5’s | C-)

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