BOOK REVIEW: The Ruby Locket by Melissa Wray
To start this review, I’d like to say a huge thank you to Henry at Odyssey Books for reaching out and contacting me about reviewing this title. This has had no impact on my review, which remains fair and unbiased.
The Ruby Locket is an Australian YA dystopian following two characters called Saxon and Kerina. Saxon finds Kerina on the outskirts of town and he believes that she’s dead, but when she rouses and asks for help he finds himself dragged into her story. Kerina cannot remember anything, but she’s a rambler – an outsider – and her existence will cause Saxon no end of trouble if she’s discovered.
However, as Kerina’s memory begins to return, Saxon discovers that he might be connected to her story after all, and solving the mysteries of her past may bring him closure of his own.
The beginning of The Ruby Locket is very gripping. I couldn’t wait to find out more about Kerina, and the way that her memories come back so slowly – just a glimpse into her past returning at a time – added to the intrigue. Unfortunately, once Kerina’s memories have returned my interest in the story waned dramatically.
My main issue with The Ruby Locket is that the chapters are too short. We flip back and forth between Kerina and Saxon’s viewpoints, but some of their chapters were only a couple of pages each. They could have been combined together, reducing the amount of chapters (which numbered over 100 by the end of the book!) and fleshed out a bit further, and it would have made me feel more connected to the characters and more interested in the events that were unfolding.
However, because of the constant viewpoint switching I ended up being frustrated and bored. As soon as something interesting began to happen to one of the characters, we would suddenly move across to a less interesting event happening with the other. It should have made me want to read faster to get back to the action, and it probably would have had this effect if the technique had been used infrequently, but because it happened continually throughout the story it didn’t work very well.
Something which isn’t reflected in my rating is the fact that this book needed a bit more editing. I try not to account for that in my ratings of novels, because there are many reasons that grammatical errors can slip through the net, but at times this story veered from first person perspective to third person perspective in the same sentence, and it threw me out of the story completely. I’m hoping that these issues were only present in the review copies, but when there was a lot of action playing out it did make it hard to understand who was doing what, adding to the disjointed feeling which began with the constant viewpoint switches.
I really liked the idea of the Okodee. Melissa Wray has created a world in which a vaccine has led some people to develop superhuman strength and unnaturally fast healing. Kerina discovers she is part of these people – known as the Okodee – and that’s the reason she finds herself running from her past. I wish there had been more focus on this aspect of the story, because the focus feels much more political than personal. I would have loved a bit more exploration of how Kerina feels about her identity.
I also wanted more from this world. There genuinely is enough content in this novel to turn it into a duology, which is strange for me to say! I normally find myself feeling as though a duology could easily be compressed into a standalone with a bit more editing. However, the world of the Okodee (and the story of the Burn, which was the catalyst for the beginning of this dystopian world) deserves more exploration. Although I’m sure most readers will love this book because it’s fast-paced, it would have been a bigger hit for me if it had been slowed down and savoured a bit more. This is particularly true about the last few chapters: the action resolves with a breakneck speed, and I hadn’t expected it all to be over quite so quickly.
I’m giving The Ruby Locket 3 stars. I was tempted to leave it at 2.5 stars, but the Okodee idea really did intrigue me, and I found myself caring about the (rather large) cast of characters that Melissa Wray created, even though I did find myself getting restless at points while reading this novel.
Once again, a huge thank you to Odyssey Books for allowing me to read and review this title.
See you again soon,