Review: Hotel Ruby by Suzanne Young

Quick review for a somewhat quick read. “Hotel Ruby” sounded like a book that was right up my alley, so I decided to pick this up despite this book having a very wide reaction on Goodreads. My end reaction is that this was just an okay read, but largely forgettable. I’m glad I took the time to read it, but I honestly wouldn’t read it again. It’s a shame because I was hit by cover and premise-lust just picking it up. I think it was trying too hard for the theme it was going for. I loved the concept of the novel, and I actually liked where it ended up going, especially with the somewhat twisty, though predictable ending. But the presentation really wasn’t there for me. Far too often, I felt frustrated.

I was initially drawn into “Hotel Ruby” with Audrey and her family’s circumstances and the allure of the hotel backdrop. I can’t resist creepy hotel novels -something about the atmosphere always pulls me in (that and creepy carnivals. Don’t ask.) Quickly, I realized this book seemed to be playing out as a junior version of “666 Park Avenue” – very focused on the romantic inclinations with some interspersing of creepy, supernatural factors. But the problem is that the cast was largely forgettable, the romance far too unrealistic to work (it progressed way too problematic and too fast, even for instalust), the creepy factors were pretty basic, and it kept throwing the emotional curves in such a telling way – I don’t think it clicked with me because it was so spelled out. I could certainly identify with this broken family considering the loss of Audrey’s mother and how it changed the relationship she had with her brother and father – especially with her father’s emotional distancing. However, I didn’t like that it wasn’t shown as much as it was told.

I also felt very underwhelmed by the horror/supernatural elements, because much of them were really awkwardly shown interspersed between moments where Audrey’s pettiness (i.e. her jealousy over Catherine potentially stealing her LI) came front and center. Some moments had potential, but others failed because of the very familiar “OMG, am I going crazy?” part of it. I told myself if this book ended up with someone in a mental institution or it was a scenario where the character was crazy this whole time, I would start hurling the book against the wall. Fortunately, that’s not what happened. (But you could say this book has some stuff in common with “The Sixth Sense.” I won’t say more than that.) The ending of the book was more emotional than I was expecting, but it fit with the overarching themes in the book. The problem was the execution of it – the writing didn’t carry it nor did the characters because they weren’t strongly asserted enough on their own to be able to sell it.

It was worth reading once through, but I can’t say that it’s one that I would remember long term or come back to as a favorite story. Shame, because the premise and intention were on point. It just didn’t convince me or pull me in. I’ve a feeling that people who aren’t as patient wouldn’t be able to see past the sluggish beginning and YA derivative cliches (instalove, MC’s petty jealousy of other female characters over the love interest, etc.) wouldn’t make the slog through to the end.

Overall score: 2.5/5 stars.

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