And then the car was beside him, not idling but panting like a deadly animal which may or may not be tamed. – Stephen King
It’s hard not to automatically think of Stephen King when you read a book about possessed cars, isn’t it? No? Maybe it’s just me, and maybe I’ve just read too much SK in my day.
At any rate, Sam Cameron’s Young Adult novel King of Ruins is a pretty fast-paced and promising beginning to what appears is going to be a series (???), even though I can’t find mention of a sequel to the book anywhere. Honestly, though, I can’t imagine there won’t be a continuation to the story, based upon the way this book ended. There’s too much left hanging in the balance for it to be otherwise, beginning with the origin of the Ruins, and notwithstanding the non-relationship that had really only just been hinted at between Danny Kelly and Kevin Clark before the book came to a conclusion.
This is Danny’s coming-out story, set against a backdrop of real-life issues (the loss of his father and brother, his mother’s new marriage, Danny’s arrest for underage driving—in a stolen car, no less—not to mention now living in a city where he doesn’t want to be), but that’s really not the central focus of the story; that belongs to the alien sources of energy dubbed Ruins that feed on love, drugs, and rock & roll, and have taken to possessing all manner of automobiles, wreaking havoc and leaving a host of dead bodies in their rearview mirrors. There is one particularly deadly Ruin, King #5, that’s causing chaos in the city of Nashville, and it’s that entity that brings Danny and Kevin, who works with his father for a secret arm of the government in league with the Department of Transportation, together to mount a dangerous chase to try and eliminate the King before it can gather enough strength to infect something much more powerful and dangerous than a mere car.
This is a story that’s creative and filled with plenty of cut-to-the chase action when not focusing on Danny’s journey of self-discovery. It’s a story that has a lot of potential to go places if it is indeed only the beginning of something that will eventually dig a little deeper into the origins of the Ruins, how and why they connect with people of a particular background, and how Danny is eventually going to fit into the scheme of the agency to which he’s currently been given only a short-term hall pass due to his age.
There were enough questions left dangling at the end of this book that, right or wrong, it left me wanting in a rather frustrated way, sort of like trying to satisfy a chocolate craving with carob. Ack. I really liked the Urban Fantasy/Sci-Fi elements of the story, though, and found myself rooting for good things to happen for Danny and Kevin, hopefully sooner rather than later.
Kings of Ruin is definitely not a book you ought to read if you’re looking for teen romance, but if it’s action and adventure you’re after, and you don’t mind a cliffhanger, give this one a go.