If I’d stopped after three chapters Killing Ruby Rose might have been one of the better guilty pleasure books I’d read in a long time. For those first few chapters Jessie Humphries channels Veronica Mars at its best — with a smart, drive heroine who isn’t intimidated and refuses to back down from a challenge.
In this case, the challenge is solving the murder of her father by investigating five potential subjects, all of whom could have a connection to the case. But it’s here that the issues that ultimately dropped this novel down a lot in my estimation began to rear their ugly head.
I’m all about willing suspension of disbelief (my favorite TV show of all time features a character who can change bodies and travels through space and time in a blue box that is bigger on the inside) but sometimes it has to be earned. And it’s unfortunately not earned in Killing Ruby Rose. Even though her father was a police officer and her mother is DA, I find it hard to believe that Ruby would be able to have the amount of access to the files she does or that she could cover her tracks on having them as effectively as she does. And while I’m not female and have never worn high heels, a bit of Googling makes it hard to believe that any sane person would chose to do a bit of undercover investigation in the shoes that Ruby describes in the book. (Honestly, I can’t see Veronica Mars in high heels like this — at least while out on an investigation!).
All of those could be niggling things if the characters were consistent. We’ve got Ruby’s mom, the driven DA who had an affair with her father’s partner and nemesis. Ruby’s mom is all over the map in terms of characterization, morphing from one cliche to the next as the plot or scene requires. That’s to say nothing of her best friend and potential love interest who may or may not be connected to the whole conspiracy to set Ruby up as the fall girl when the culprits from her list of five all begin dying (several of them at Ruby’s hand, but more on that in a minute).
And then there’s Ruby herself, who has the bad habit of naming everything (her car, her shoe closet, her gun) and describes herself as tough as nails. And if it was only Ruby seeing herself this way and contradicting herself, I could go along with that. But just about everyone in the novels sees her as one tough cookie — except there is no evidence of that. This tough as nails teenager who has a gun permit and carries her (again, named) gun around with her, is quick to make life and death decisions one moment and then be fainting because of a secret message for her hidden in a school art project.
It’s enough that I found myself wanting to toss the book aside in frustration until I remembered I was reading it on my Kindle and I didn’t want to break it.
The novel pulls out a couple of twists and turns (OK, a lot of them) in an attempt to keep the reader guessing. But instead of keeping this reader guessing, it made my growing frustration with the novel increase.
And it’s a shame because, again, those first three chapters had a ton of promise to them. The ending was just interesting enough that I may jump into the sequel and see if things improve. But I may not be in a huge hurry to pick it up.