Author: Amy Tintera
Series: Ruined, #1
Released: May 3rd 2016
Length: 368 pages
Source: Publisher for review
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.
As a big fan of Amy Tintera’s debut duology, Reboot, I was beyond excited to read her first foray into the world of YA fantasy. It’s my preferred genre and the one I’m most selective about, but I trusted Tintera to create something thrilling and never before seen. Sadly, while Ruined was exciting and pretty decently written, nothing about it was as original or daring as it should have been. If anything, Ruined is a collage of themes and tropes we’ve seen many times before with just enough novelty to make is seem better than it actually is.
Ruined is told alternately from Em’s and Cas’s points of view. The two belong to countries at war with each other, with much history and bloodshed already between them. Although the narration is fairly divided, it was clear from her first chapter that Em would be the one to carry the book. It was important to Tintera to make her the strong, merciless and isolated heroine, a girl considered useless by her people because she didn’t possess the magic like the rest of the Ruined. When it comes to creating heroines, Tintera clearly knows what she’s doing. I liked Em’s independence and bravery, I loved that she always expressed her opinion, even when it wasn’t prudent to do so. She never came across as whiny or incompetent as so many heroines often do.
The downside of her excellent characterization was the shadow she cast over Cas. In contrast, his character was poorly done, and while it could be argued that he was too young, he didn’t have the personality fit for a future king. Cas was almost too agreeable and forgiving, he let his family, and even Em, walk all over him, and when Em failed to warn him of danger and practically betrayed him, he just forgave her like it was nothing.
That brings me to romance, which was obviously somewhat disappointing. I felt very little chemistry between Cas and Em as his impostor wife and while I didn’t see it as instalove as some readers complained, I also saw no reason for their infatuation. I have no idea where the story will take them or how they might change and evolve, but as it is, there is nothing substantial between them.
I have to give credit to Tintera for her excellent dialogues. As a huge fan of dry humor and sarcastic remarks, I enjoyed all the banter between her characters. Em’s personality came through loud and clear in every random comment and especially those things she muttered to herself in response to something someone said. In addition, it’s clear that Tintera is a great writer with an excellent sense of pacing.
While I might not continue this series (I doubt I’ll even remember the details by the time the second book comes out), I’ll keep an eye out for Tintera’s next project, hoping it will be something I’ll enjoy just a bit more than I did Ruined.
A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review.