Ruthless by Carolyn Lee Adams


By Carolyn Lee Adams
Publisher: Simon Pulse
ISBN13: 9781481422635
Pages: 256
Genre: YA Mystery

Book Blurb:

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 trick, 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 want to first address the fact that I was astonished to discover this was Adams’ debut book. When I intially snatched this title off of the shelf due to it’s luring cover and thrill-promising blurb, I had no idea. I certainly would never have made the assumption while reading the title. This one is a heavy hitter for me. I sat and absorbed all 256 pages within an easy 2 hours while remaining stationary in the corner of my couch. I think I may have taken one break to get up for Advil because I was determined not to let my headache pull me away from this one. I was entranced from page 1. Opening lines:

-Carolyn Lee Adams, Ruthless

I feel that classifying Ruthless in the YA genre may be selling the book a bit short. I am not saying that it does not meet the criteria or cannot be enjoyed by young adults, I am acknowledging that this one will appeal to fans of adult suspense and thrillers as well. The writing is articulate and clean while avoiding unnecessary embellishments and still managing to evoke strong emotions within the reader. Adams writes with a certain air of someone who is very seasoned and comfortable behind the pen. She also happens to convey the confidence that can only be found when an author is very familiar with their topic, or as we often say, has done their “homework”.

Our protagonist is Ruth, we soon learn is a bit of a snot. She has lived a somewhat privileged life that at first glimpse makes it easy to dislike her to a degree. However, as our story unfolds, we soon come to accept that she has also faced her own share of hardships and there is more to her than what appears on the surface. It took a while for me to determine exactly how I felt about Ruth. But this internal struggle and continuous judging did wonders for humanizing her and making her viable. In the end, she won my affection, and I was easily terrified for her and even proud of her during certain moments.

The antagonist is a nasty fella by the name of Jerry T Balls. Referring to Jerry as nasty is actually a pretty large understatement. He is a nightmare, the nightmare. He is that thing that lurks in the shadows and we pray our children never meet. Jerry quickly climbed the ranks of villains and bad guys in my book. But do not be fooled. This is not the sort of villain you love to hate. You simply hate him with every fiber of your being. If you do not, then it is time to take a good look at yourself. There is no sympathy to be hard for this filthy asshole. I will let you read the actual book to understand just how despicable he is.

The plot for this one is very familiar. We have a young girl who has escaped her captor and now fights to survive. That however, is where the similarities end. Perhaps what makes Ruthless so engaging and suspenseful is that we are exposed to the story of not only our protagonist but our  antagonist as well. The author has cleverly revealed how this monster known as Jerry came into existence, slowly uncovering the events that led to Ruth’s capture and potential demise. Told through an alternating narration of the first person point of view of Ruth and well-timed flashbacks of both Jerry and Ruth’s past, this is an intriguing perspective that unfolds effortlessly and flawlessly into a terrifying race to the bitter end that is packed with emotion.

“Hopelessness is not an emotion to be indulged. On the heels of hopelessness comes defeat, and even though everything seems pointless and impossible, I still want to win.”
― Carolyn Lee Adams, Ruthless

While I felt a slight amount of disappointment with the ending,  I am also able to easily entertain the notion that the ending I desired may have felt cliché, cheapening the entire experience. So I am still able to appreciate the author’s decision on this conclusion. This is an easy 4 stars for me, as I find myself still reflecting on the absolute originality and ingenuousness of the author’s ability to expose the reader to the minds of both the hunter and the hunted, adding a new level of thrill and suspense to the reader’s experience. For myself, this was a roller coaster, and I was sad to see it end. Pushing this one on all fans of YA and adult thrillers.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Purchase Ruthless

50 thoughts on “Ruthless by Carolyn Lee Adams

  1. From the blurb and the cover, I would not have guessed it was seen as a YA! If you hadn’t told me I would have put it in the thriller category! The blurb is good, really good. With Jerry, this book is perfect for Spooktober! I love a good villain. I’m curious about the ending now that I know you were expecting something different. I have no choice but to add it to my list and see for myself! Great review! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Donna you absolutely must make a note to let me know if you read this. There are a few of you that I would really love to compare reviews/thoughts with on this one! I think it would be okay for YA, but I still forgot it was while reading it. I was just caught up in what was happening.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve read a few articles about how readers are so eager to hate a woman because she doesn’t do what we want to do, meaning she’s difficult. I’m glad you came around to feel sympathy for Ruth. Even if she is a bit of a shit, she’s still a kidnapped woman!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This review is amazeballs! I so want to read it now ❤ Creepy cabin in the woods = instalove also!

    I think sometimes books are just being put into the YA catalogue because it simply sells better. I've seen books that were edited only to change the protagonist from a 28-year-old woman to a 17-year-old girl. (didn't work well there, I tell ya). But who cares with this book. It sounds so good I don't care what genre it's being put in!

    Jerry T Balls…*giggles some more*

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I’d become a sadistic psychopath as well if my last name was Balls ;). Though I dated a guy who’s last name was Ball once. But it was Turkish for honey, so that sounds less…gross?

        Liked by 2 people

  4. Wow, what a review… I definitely have to read this. I like characters who appear hard to like but then as a reader I have to change my mind because there’s always more to them… it just teaches a lesson, doesn’t it?
    Also- Jerry T Balls… I think my mouth fell open for that name choice and then I may have chuckled… ahem…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Excellent review Danielle. The only issue I have is that it caused my TBR to go in the wrong direction 🙂 You called it on the cover; I was drawn to it before I read word one of the blurb.

    Liked by 1 person

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