Posted October 5, 2017 by Allie Burke in Books

Review: Ruthless People by J.J. McAvoy

Ruthless People
J.J. McAvoy
New Adult
328 Pages
17 July 2014 by The Writer’s Coffee Shop

I can’t even with this book. I blame it on Nicholas Denmon’s For Nothing, which is a mafia thriller with very high standards.

The short of it is (as much as it pains me to admit it): outside of the plot, Ruthless People is pretty terrible.

The grammatical failure is what strikes me the most. There are easily more than three typos–spelling, punctuation, or otherwise–on every page. I cannot imagine it having been edited or proofread. I’m not a grammar-nazi, but, it happens so often in this book that it is exceptionally distracting.

Our main characters, Melody and Liam, are underdeveloped. I can easily imagine each side character, but I cannot tell Melody and Liam apart. They carry themselves the same and they speak the same and they think the same. This is an issue with first person storytelling that switches perspectives constantly; the characters must be dimensional and striking, but such is not the case with this book. I had to keep going back to the beginning of the chapter to figure out who’s head I was supposed to be in. In addition, the dialogue from all sides is unbelievable.

The fool spit up all over himself as he gasped out for air. “They’re in hiding.”
“No fucking duh!”

No fucking duh? Really? What self-respecting crime boss would ever speak that way? What educated adult would ever speak that way?

The monologue isn’t far behind. Because our characters are so one-dimensional to me, their thoughts are unreliable. They never reflect on their lives in such violent, heavy crime–even when alone–yet seem completely sane. They are not psychotic; they are ruthless. But still human, and I just don’t believe them.

All of that being said, I did finish the book in less than a day. I had plenty of opportunities to DNF it–I don’t stick with books that I’m not enjoying; there are too many books and too little time–but I didn’t. The first one-hundred pages, I admit, were painful; I thought that Melody and Liam’s childish games with one another were overdone in the most immature way, and if it had gone one much longer, I would have definitely given up on it.

But the plot.

The plot is seamless. Though there are things I feel that could have been done better, such as focus on the drugs since that is their business (we rarely ever hear anything about what the Irish/Italians actually do to make their money), I loved the organized crime, I love the ruthlessness, the power, the loyalty. The plot was a shoot-em-up, cut-their-balls-off-and-feed-it-to-them-for-breakfast thrill ride. I love mob fiction, and the fact that we have an epic–though psychologically unhealthy–love story between two crime bosses (one of them a woman who runs the entire fucking Italian mob) is not something I can in good conscience ever pass up. The ending was beautiful–not something I saw coming–and I do not regret reading it and I will continue with the second book (albeit hoping it gets much, much better), but I can’t help but feel disappointed and robbed as a reader with as much hype this book has. It was a brilliant idea, but the execution–the editing, the development, the dialogue, the initial set-up–really was pretty awful in comparison to authentic, realistic, well-written mob fiction.

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Allison “Allie” Burke is a published novelist and editor who enjoys Weird Things like reading six YA novels in a day, drinking coffee at all the wrong times, and rambling on about Things No One Has Ever Heard Of to people who are not really listening. She loves vampires – but only on TV, not in books (except that one time) – and expresses herself using the F-word more in a day than is acceptable in any human being’s lifetime. She often Capitalizes Things That Are Not Technically Supposed To Be Capitalized, like that one girl from that one book. Her favorite book is The Fault In Our Stars, and she is terrified of Good Books Being Turned Into Movies That Suck.