Release Date: May 6, 2014
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Genre: New Adult
The sexy New Adult e-original from Jamie Brenner, in which Lulu has everything except the one thing she never knew she desired—until now.
She lives in a world of beauty.
His life is shrouded in darkness.
When they meet, she must choose between everything she has and the one thing she has always desired.
Lulu Sterling thinks she has it all figured out: with one more year left at NYU, she’s spending her summer interning at her mother’s iconic art gallery, determined to overcome the long shadow of her father’s suicide and prove herself to her critical mother. With her boyfriend, rising artist Brandt Penn, Lulu also hopes she will finally experience the love and desire that have always eluded her. But passion comes where she least expects it in the form of a brilliant, reclusive street artist known only by the tag GoST, and Lulu must decide how much she is willing to risk – and how far she is willing to go -- to claim it.
Literary yet still very pop fiction, that's my summation of Jamie Brenner's new adult novel, RUIN ME. Maybe it's just me or whatever shiznit I'm on but the tone of the story is highbrow artsy like the story. The plot is set in the New York art world which was surprisingly very cutthroat and Anna Sterling is the Grand Dame of that world. So it goes without saying that she wants her daughter, Lulu to succeed the throne but the latter has something else in mind. Not only that, Anna's right hand, Inez, wants it as well and she is bent on kicking Lulu out of the picture no matter the cost. Compounding this with Lulu's empty love life and desire for change and you have a very character driven novel.
RUIN ME has a lot of intrigue and controversy going on for it which I loved. Anna and Lulu's relationship is very strained because Anna's got issues that she's passing on to Lulu thanks to her sculptor father who committed suicide a long time ago. No abuse from Anna whatsoever except she can be very controlling and would dictate what Lulu should and shouldn't do. Inez I love the best because she is so Machiavellian! Inez is such a schemer, using people as her pawns for her own agenda. Inez's downfall was falling in love with Anna and as she wasn't really good at covering up her tracks, her plotting eventually caught up with her.
Lulu is a complex heroine and she possess strong contrasting characteristics. She can be docile but stubborn at the same time, naive yet discerning, soft but tough. Lulu is also loyal to a fault, her boyfriend is up and coming artist, Brandt Penn, who's technical skill didn't translate into talent. In short his work sucked balls. Lulu is sexually frustrated in her relationship because Brandt is the stereotypical artist, narcissistic, temperamental with a chip the size of Texas on his shoulder. This relationship fell apart eventually and Lulu found herself with graffiti artists, GoST and the latter represented a lot of things to Lulu, not just fascination for his work but something personal as well.
I know I should go. But I’m rooted in place. I feel myself close to greatness, true greatness. Something bigger and more important than anything that has hung in the walls of my mother’s gallery. And if I leave now, I might never get close to it again.
I love the idea of GoST and what his art stands for. He's an activist who advocates his revolutionary thoughts about society et al via his art. He has achieved notoriety and it's Lulu's fascination for his work that led her to him. It wasn't insta-love, it was slow burning and it started as pure curiosity in Lulu's part but given her messy personal life and chemistry with GoST, it was only natural that these two would fall in love. Their passion's a given but understated because JBrenner didn't really focus on the sex despite Lulu never having an orgasm in her life, the focal point of RUIN ME remained on the character developments. I'm thankful for this because I'm one of those NA-prejudiced readers who's experience with the genre centered on slutty new adults, their trainwreck lives and emotional immaturity. So to read NA-Lit that isn't like that is a blessing already.
Back to the novel, Lulu's character development is very remarkable and very consistent with the story, it wasn't forced, no convenient plot devices and the dramatic confrontations were all subdued. The same thing goes with the rest of the characters, once it was set in motion, none of them were the same in the end. Anna had a rude awakening, Inez and Brandt got what they deserved, GoST now has a legitimate voice and Lulu found her own person and is happily pursuing her own vision.
I guess I've justified why I absolutely loved RUIN ME. I don't know if there's a sequel, I sure hope there's one that would feature Lulu's BFF, Niffer, she's a firecracker. On a more general note, I am such a huge fan of JBrenner, her work has this signature feel to it especially her women. Her heroines are always so feminine and their strength lie in their femininity, they don't have snarky tongues, they're not the life of the party, they're very normal but above average, more ladies than women, if that makes sense. Her stories to me always has this classic literary feel and by injecting current plot devices turns it into a "trendy" read. So even if her work is popular contemporary fiction, it never felt "trashy" to me. I strongly advice, encourage, recommend you try her work.
Anyways, I know I'm rambling so I'll just stop now.