Series: Ruined #1
Published by Allen & Unwin on May 3rd 2016
Source: Edelweiss, Publisher
Genres: Fantasy & Magic, Romance, Action & Adventure, Young Adult
Amazon | Book Depository | Publisher
Add to Goodreads
Emelina Flores has nothing. Her home in Ruina has been ravaged by war. She lacks the powers of her fellow Ruined. Worst of all, she witnessed her parents’ brutal murders and watched helplessly as her sister, Olivia, was kidnapped.
But because Em has nothing, she has nothing to lose. Driven by a blind desire for revenge, Em sets off on a dangerous journey to the enemy kingdom of Lera. Somewhere within Lera’s borders, Em hopes to find Olivia. But in order to find her, Em must infiltrate the royal family.
In a brilliant, elaborate plan of deception and murder, Em marries Prince Casimir, next in line to take Lera’s throne. If anyone in Lera discovers Em is not Casimir’s true betrothed, Em will be executed on the spot. But it’s the only way to salvage Em’s kingdom and what is left of her family.
Em is determined to succeed, but the closer she gets to the prince, the more she questions her mission. Em’s rage-filled heart begins to soften. But with her life—and her family—on the line, love could be Em’s deadliest mistake.
While Ruined was a very fun read, it didn’t really stand out from the dozens of fantasies out there in YA literature. The blurb comes off a bit dark, as the main character Emelina seems to be very focused on revenge for the deaths of her parents, the king and queen of Ruina. While there are heavy action scenes that would satisfy readers looking for some fights, the book came out as quite light for one with a revenge plot. The world-building was fairly simple, almost in a generic way that melded it to the rest of the multitude of fantasy worlds that exist out there. Despite that, the quick dialogue and steady pacing make it for a read that’ll keep you entertained from start to finish.
We being the book with Emelina, or Em, killing Casimir’s true betrothed Mary on the way to the kingdom of Lera. The politics of the world were fairly simple: Ruina had Ruined, people with magical powers ruled by a savage queen who enjoyed torturing people. That queen and her king were killed by the royals of the kingdom of Vallos, who in turn worked with Lera against the people with magic. The prejudice runs quite deep against Ruined, and Lera and Vallos don’t perceive them as real people. Adding on to that are the Olso warriors, who are neutral to the Ruined and play a pretty important role with Em getting her revenge. While these aspects were intriguing, we get a pretty limited view of the magic of the Ruined itself. They were explained, but certainly not explored. We see Ruined having different kinds of powers, but we don’t know what specific kind of powers. However, the book certainly seems to be leading up to more explanations later in the trilogy.
Although this has a revenge plot, Em is shown to be quite thoughtful. She’s also the worst at infiltrating kingdoms. Em’s supposed to be Princess Mary, who supposedly hates the Ruined. However, her attitude and actions regarding them don’t match up at all. She’s constantly standing up for them, which makes her deception plot quite unrealistic. Em is a very loyal girl, and her actions are based on what she thinks is right. In the beginning, it was the death of the Lera royalty. Later on, she starts falling for Prince Cas, which makes her rethink her decisions and she starts questioning how “right” it was to selfishly kill people, like her mother did. Em is also one of the few Ruined who doesn’t have any powers. She makes up for that by being kickass at weapons and training. I like how she doesn’t let her lack of powers bring her down, despite how the other Ruined with powers may treat her.
No one feared Emelina Flores, the useless daughter of the most powerful queen Ruina had ever known.
But they would.
Speaking of the romance: While it was sweet, it was also quite unbelievable on how quickly Em starts to warm up to Cas. It was not insta-love by any means, but it’s quite noticeable when the main character starts changing her view when getting to know the love interest. Cas is much more forgiving than his father, who openly hates the Ruined. He has the kind of level head that is great for ruling and is willing to think of the Ruined as actual people. That kindness is what draws Em to him despite her declaration to kill him in the beginning of the book. As with the author’s previous work, Rebel, I didn’t appreciate how her character took an almost 180-degree turn because of meeting the love interest. She got too sweet, too fast. That was my main complaint with the first half of the book, while the second really blew me away.
The first half focused on Em’s deception in the Lera court, and the second had her and her companions on the run and ready to carry out their plan to save Em’s sister, Olivia. It was action-packed and overall just killer. Readers who enjoy a faster-paced plot (like me) with tons of fighting will definitely appreciate the latter half. Both Cas and Em learn that their parents did not exactly have the best views (mostly because of the prejudice for or against the Ruined) as monarchs, and strive to put their own just rights into action. For Em, it’s not to be a torture-loving queen like her mother. For Cas, it’s not to have the extreme prejudice against Ruined “beings” like his own family has. These conflicts are thoroughly explored, and bring much dimension to the characters.
‘We’re punishing all the Ruined for the crimes of the few.’
The fairly modern dialogue and direct writing makes for a quick read for the reader. While I appreciated that, it also left me less immersed in the fantasy world. The court scenes were way too informal from what (I imagine) would happen in front of kings and queens. Em liked to cross her arms, and was directly rude to the king and queen of Lera. And while I appreciate that spunk, it also baffled me. Where were the sly comments that are used in court? Was this behavior even appropriate? It just didn’t fit in with the setting for me, and detracted from the overall world in the book.
Awesome action also equates to character deaths, which were used to drive the plot. As exciting as they were, one of the more important deaths left me unfeeling. It was for a character that was hurriedly written into the plot, inserted only for one reason: to fuel Em’s desire for revenge. As he was an significant outlet to Em’s past, it was quite disappointing to feel nothing for such a seemingly important character. So while the action was executed quite thoroughly and left me breathless, the emotions behind it didn’t cause much of a stir.
While the world had elements that have yet to be explored (mainly the magic) and didn’t stand out from the rest of the worlds out there, it was solid enough to enjoy. The informal court setting left me a bit confused, but it didn’t necessarily deter me from reading; in fact, the quick dialogue makes the pages go by pretty fast. Em and Cas’s character growth were awesome to read about, if you don’t count the quick-to-form romance that happened between them.
The ending definitely left me wanting more! It was abrupt and a bit disconcerting, but the cliffhanger game was certainly strong. While this came out as a solid 3.5, I will definitely be looking forward to more action in regards to the politics, magic, and battle that the next books will bring forth.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Thank you Harper Collins and Edelweiss for the review copy!
Giveaway – 5 copies of Ruined for Australian readers!
Allen & Unwin are giving away 5 copies of Ruined to readers of Happy Indulgence! These will feature the beautiful Australian cover.
Fill in the entry form below to enter! Fake entries will be disqualified (we can tell!). Giveaway ends 1 May 2016. Winners will be notified by email and will have 48 hours to respond.
Latest posts by Aila J. (see all)
- Eclipse the Skies Review: Sequel that left me wanting more - October 15, 2019
- The Lady Rogue Review: What Kind Of Secrets Can We Find, Dashing Through Romania? - September 20, 2019
- Serpent & Dove Review: A Witch & Hunter, Brought Together By (Un)Holy Matrimony - September 10, 2019
[…] Ruined by Amy Tintera | A forgettable fantasy that is a bit reminiscent of the author’s first duology, where the main character completely forgets her tough attitude in favor of falling in love with the love interest. The twist at the end was worth the read though. | 3.5 stars […]
What a great review! I've been looking forward to reading this book for a while now. Most of the YA I've read so far this year has been contemporary so I'm hanging out to get back into some fantasy/adventure story lines. Allen and Unwin publish some of my favourite YA series so I hope to read this one soon!
My recent post The Beekeeper’s Secret by Josephine Moon
looks like an awesome read.. would love to read!! please pick me!!!
I am a huge fan of Amy Tintera's Reboot series so I have been quite eager to read this book.
I'm pleased that you mostly enjoyed it! hopefully more detail is given about the world in the next book. I do like the sound of Em.
A lovely review!
My recent post Why the Young adult genre is frustrating me!
Em is a great character! Definitely feisty and not afraid to fight her own battles.
If you really liked Reboot (like I did!), I think you'll absolutely love this one. You can really tell Tintera's writing and characterizations are in there.
I love YA fantasy so I'm very interested in giving this one a try. It sounds fairly interesting, especially with the people with powers being the ones defeated, when you'd think it would be the other way around. I love romance in my fantasies so I'm interested to read the relationship between Em and Cas myself. And I can't pass up a girl with a sword!
Great review and thanks for the giveaway:)
My recent post Review: Glass Sword By Victoria Aveyard +GIVEAWAY!!!
I think you'll really like this one then! 😀 The action and sweet romance in a fantasy world with lot of magic sounds like a great fit.
Best of luck!
Oh definitely! The fast plot and fun characters made it worth the read. But for real, that revenge plot was totally scrapped after the first couple of chapters haha. I guess it would be easier to head into it without the conception that there will be a lot of revenge taking place.
I have to say that I love the beautiful Australian cover! I hope I enjoy this as much as you did Aila, I have a copy and I'm excited to try it as it's my first read by Amy Tintera. The action part sounds like something I would enjoy, we'll see about the romance you mention 🙂
Omg yessss Kim, I can't wait to hear what you think about it when you read it! And you must pick up the Reboot duology when you have the time, too. I find Tintera's action scenes, fast pace, and resilient main characters quite fun, in the grand scheme of things.
Hot dang, the Australian cover is lovely beyond words. I love the pose the model is in!
This looks amazing. I keep hearing about it, and can't wait to read it as soon as it is released! 🙂
Yay, I hope you enjoy it when it comes out! Less than a month – we're quickly approaching the publication date! 🙂
This book sounds really interesting! I love darker books and can't wait to read this one
My recent post Flawed – Cecelia Ahern
It really is awesome! I hope you enjoy it when you get the chance to pick it up – and the main character's snark-tastic attitude!
Hmmm … I have this, but I'm thinking of waiting to read it until I have the 2nd book too. Too bad it doesn't really stand out, though.
My recent post The Raft by Fred Strydom
Ooh, that would actually be pretty awesome, Christy! Especially considering the cliffhanger that you see in this one (hehe). It really is a generic fantasy for me, but the fast pace and killer action scenes were enough for me to keep reading. (I am very easy to please in regards to fantasy books lol)
Well, that's disappointing. I like revenge books, but the lack of that here makes me want to steer clear. But I'm glad you still enjoyed it enough to continue.
My recent post Garage Sale
She doesn't sound like a very convincing anti-heroine. It does sound dark but it also seems to lack in grit a la Maas' book. Eh, I'm not the right reader for this one. Thanks for letting me know 🙂
It's a pleasure! And yeahh, the revenge plot TOTALLY got scrapped after a couple of chapters haha.
I really loved her Reboot series, it was one of the first duologies I'd read in young adult and loved how fast and furious the storyline was. For people who are not massive non fantasy readers like myself, I like the slower paced beginning. Usually fantasy throws me halfway into a storyline and I just can't understand what's going on. I do love a sassy character and looking forward to giving this one a go too. Wonderful review and thanks for the awesome giveaway girls, fingers crossed <3
My recent post Frankie… Oh how I love thee
Yey, my fingers and toes will be crossed for you, too! <3
I was much more of a fan of the sequel Rebel in the Reboot series, but I ultimately enjoyed the plot and characters very much. The fast and furious storyline in that duology can also be seen here! Things kept going, and going, and going, and I couldn't tear my eyes away from the pages. Eep, I really hope you love this one!
I have this one my list, but I've learned to stop rushing into these new YA fantasy books after my run-in with Truthwitch. I'm sure I'll read this at some point, so I know not to have high expectations. Great review!
My recent post One With You by Sylvia Day: Why I Feel It Didn’t Quite Deliver
Thanks Lekeisha! And yeah, Ruined is a pretty great generic fantasy, it just didn't have much that stood out for me, unfortunately. I hope you like it when you get the chance to pick it up!
I'm looking forward to reading this one, Aila. I'm sad it didn't stand out for you, but that's becoming a bit of a problem for me as well. I think it's because there are just way too many YA fantasy books releasing lately. I'm glad that there were still parts you were able to enjoy though. I'm curious about that ending especially!
Wonderful review! 🙂
My recent post Review: Summer Skin by Kirsty Eagar
OMG THE ENDING. I thought it was particularly awesome, and definitely worth reading the rest of the book!
I know, sometimes all this fantasy can get repetitive. (Yet I still read them anyways because I am an absolute addict, ahaha) I really hope you enjoy this one when you get the chance to pick it up! Because those action scenes were absolutely kickass.
I'm super super excited for this one!! It looks like everything I love in a fantasy book, and I really liked Amy Tintera's writing style in her REBOOT duology. Although I do usually prefer more solid worldbuilding, I'll give this one a chance. 🙂 Great review!
My recent post Five Books that Influenced my Debut
I think you'll LOVE this one if you enjoyed Reboot! (I remember really loving Rebel but having some problems with Reboot). Plus, it's awesome to see Tintera expand to a fantasy genre. I hope you enjoy this one when you get the chance to pick it up!
hmm. I have been really looking forward to this one and this review makes me slightly disappointed. I will still give it a try. I love fast reading books, simple because I read fast. Thanks for the review.
My recent post Book Review: The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler
Ah, I hope it didn't disappoint too much! I think the quick pace will definitely keep you hooked! The overall impression was slightly underwhelming for me, but it was certainly enjoyable while reading. 🙂
Ooh I so want to read this one!! Mostly because I loved Reboot and Rebel and I'm so glad Amy Tintera is writing more. *happy dance* I'm sad it felt a bit generic though. D:
OH, if you loved Reboot and Rebel, then I think you'll also love this one! While the fantastical elements weren't anything new, I did really love the plot twists at the end and the character development. Plus, I never say no to a fantasy book hehe 😉
I can definitely see where you had problems with connecting to some of the court decorum and the quick romance, but I'm glad it sped up in the latter half with the action. I'm glad the dialogue was quick and there wasn't any insta-love but man, characters who change their views when they meet someone handsome drives me crazy lol! A really solid review Aila!
OMG FOR REAL JEANN. I know that was a problem you had with Rebel, and it kind of followed up in this book too. The cool plot twist at the end was pretty awesome though. 😀
Hopefully you mean the beautiful Australian cover 😉
My recent post Rewriting the Rules
Oh umm, yes of course, you'd never notice anything otherwise 😉