Monday, June 30, 2014

Review: Out of the Ruins by Karen Barnett

Book Cover and Synopsis:
While her sister lies on her deathbed, Abby Fischer prays for a miracle. What Abby doesn’t expect, however, is for God’s answer to come in the form of the handsome Dr. Robert King, whose experimental treatment is risky at best.

As they work together toward a cure, Abby’s feelings for Robert become hopelessly entangled. Separated by the tragedy of the mighty San Francisco earthquake, their relationship suddenly takes a back seat to survival. With fires raging throughout the city, Abby fears for her life as she flees alone through burning streets. Where is God now? Will Robert find Abby, even as the world burns around them? Or has their love fallen with the ruins of the city?

My source for book: Review Copy
My Thoughts:
Right from the beginning I was intrigued with these characters and their difficult situation. The then ground-breaking treatment of cancer using X-Rays is extremely interesting, and I especially enjoyed seeing things from Robert's perspective as he experimented with the new technology. His manner is very down-to-earth, despite his advanced medical knowledge, which I really liked. Abby is also very likeable and easy to identify with. Her feelings for Robert are very understandable (he is pretty great!), and this also added an interesting dynamic--sort of a forbidden vibe--considering that Abby's sister is his patient.

The story is split into two different sections, with the first section covering a span of several months, and the second covering just a couple of days, going hour by hour. Obviously, the two sections have vastly different pacing, but it actually works well and the transition between the two is smoothly done. The first section serves as a way to get to know the characters and their back-stories, but the second section is where most of the action happens. I liked both sections equally well.

I have to applaud the author for her skill in conveying the dramatic events so clearly and vividly. I felt like I was actually there--right beside Abby and Robert--in the midst of the earthquake chaos and destruction. Prior to reading this book I had zero knowledge of the 1906 earthquake and resulting fires, but I have since researched it a bit further. I was amazed to discover photos taken of the actual events are amazingly similar to the images the book painted in my mind! That's a sign of some powerfully descriptive writing!

This is the first book by Karen Barnett that I've read, but it will certainly not be my last. The characters and storyline burrowed into my mind so much that I found myself thinking about it during the day, anxious for the time when I could read a couple more chapters. Though most of the story is serious, there are some surprisingly lighthearted and humorous moments that keep it well balanced. (In particular, a certain large bow on the back of a dress comes to mind!) Overall, this is a title I can easily--and highly--recommend. I'm anxious to see what the next book in the series will hold.

My Rating: 5 stars

Thanks to the publisher (Abingdon) for providing me with a review copy via NetGalley.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for taking the time to review Out of the Ruins, Valerie! You made my day with your kind words. :D