Book Review: Mr. Ruins, Book 1 of the Ruins Sonata by Michael John Grist #review #novel

This novel is one of the most unique concepts I’ve encountered. Many authors and film writers have worked with plots that take characters into the minds of others. Many of these works have explored new territory but, because there isn’t much depth, the concept wears thin after a few stories. Mr. Ruins takes this concept much deeper, and does so in a way that is compelling and creative in its execution.
Mr. Ruins is written in alternating chapters that flip between Ritry Goligh’s activities in the material world and his spelunking inside a mind intend on destroying him and his team. Although Ritry is exceptionally good at his job as a greysmith, his success hasn’t given him much in life. In fact, it has kept him away from the one woman he truly loves, and he has banished himself to live on the fringes of a world inundated with tsunamis.
The precarious floating world, strung together from the debris of old, flooded cities and floating ships that didn’t survive the epic initial storms, mirrors Ritry’s internal environment. As the chapters unfold, readers learn about the tortured past that created a person who, although able to dive into anyone’s mind, can’t form the connections that make us human and buoy us atop the waves. Before he can make any progress, he needs to find himself…and that process just might kill him.
Very well written with only one ding: the use of the word BOOM (yes, always in upper case letters) to convey explosions and other loud sounds. The prose is really a cut above most hard science fiction novels, so to have the author fall back on such a weak way to describe the chaos—especially with such frequency—was disappointing. However, that’s a very minor ding and won’t prevent readers from enjoying what is truly an engaging work.
I also disagree with the decision of the author to warn about violence and graphic language on sales platforms. There’s nothing here that is so objectionable readers need to be warned. Don’t let that turn you aside, and don’t prevent your precocious teens from picking up this work, either.
The author photographs ruins and often finds inspiration amidst the wreckage of humanity’s past.
The novel comes with a glossary that defines in-world words for those who enjoy or need that but the prose integrates the terms so well you won’t need to refer to the glossary while you read.
5 stars!


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