Among the Ruins by Dominic Peloso

Among the Ruins by Dominic Peloso
Publisher: Dark Mountain Books
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Suspense/Mystery/Thriller
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

An aspiring actress finds herself the only person still alive after a plague has devastated the world. With no purpose left, she finds herself almost unable to go on; until she meets literally the last man on earth.

Together the pair find a reason to live within each other, and work to build a life on a beautiful, quiet Earth they have all to themselves.

But when a message from someone long thought dead warns that all is not as it appears, paranoia sets in. Is the last man on earth her charming savior or a creepy captor?
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Gripping, packed with twists and turns from the first page to the very last, this stunning psychological thriller is a rollercoaster of a read that explores gaslighting, Stockholm Syndrome, disassociation, mental illness, existentialism, and the search for purpose in an absurd universe.

Nobody was supposed to survive this plague, but someone did.

I was mesmerized by how much detail was included in the first scene. It described the disorienting sensation of waking up alone after a serious illness. Elyse wobbled around on weak, shaky legs while performing basic living tasks like using the bathroom and finding something quick and easy to eat in her kitchen. She was so fragile in those moments that I immediately empathized with how vulnerable she was as someone who was still ill and had no one to look after her. This scene sucked me into the plot immediately. It was an excellent, if occasionally a little stinky, introduction to this character and her conflicts.

There were times when Elyse made decisions that defied all logical explanations. While I understood that her mental illness made it difficult for her to tell the difference between reality and her delusions at times, her reactions to similar stimuli were so varied that I could never tell how she might react the next time they happened. It was hard to get to know her under these circumstances, much less come up with many theories about what was really happening to her. I’m saying this as a reader who was fascinated by the conflicts she faced and couldn’t wait to see how her conflicts were resolved.

With that being said, the ending couldn’t have been better. It stayed true to Elyse’s understanding of how the world worked while also providing tantalizing hints about what might have really been going on with her. I also appreciated the fact that it left room for a few different interpretations for audience members who had other theories about the causes of the strange events she experienced after the plague ripped through her city. This was the sort of tale I’d love to discuss in a book club or with other readers who have strong opinions about the storyline.

I’d wholeheartedly recommend Among the Ruins to anyone who enjoys stories that can be interpreted in multiple ways.

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