Author: Amy Tintera
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Read: Jan. 2018
Omg, I LOVED THIS!
Everyone seems to have really mixed feelings on Ruined – the reviews are all either “1 star I hated it” or “5 stars I am obsessed”. But I definitely fall into the latter category. I guess I could maybe see why some people might not love this and think it has a recycled plot, but it was such a fast-paced emotional, fantasy, thriller that I just didn’t even care.
I actually wasn’t that intrigued by the plot, but EpicReads seems obsessed with this one and I was in the mood for some action, so I decided to give it a try. The idea is that there are 4 different kingdoms and they’re all at war with each other in some way or another, with everyone trying to seize the most power. Our main character, Emelina Flores is from Ruina, a kingdom of magic wielders who are slowly being exterminated by the Kingdoms of Lera and Vallos because of their fear of the Ruined’s magic. Even though Emelina is a princess of Ruina, she didn’t inherit the Ruined’s powers. Her parents were murdered by Vallos and her sister taken prisoner by Lera. She is determined to get her sister back and take her revenge on everyone who opposes her.
Mary, Princess of Vallos, has been betrothed to Casimir, Prince of Lera. Emelina hatches a plan to kill Mary on her way to Lera, impersonate her, and infiltrate the castle to find out the location of her sister, Olivia. She’ll have to marry Prince Casimir, but it’s just another unfortunate event on her way to revenge. It’s fair that it’s pretty easy to guess the direction of the plot from there, but there were still so many surprises in this novel. It’s incredibly fast-paced, surprisingly humorous and a lot of fun!
Sometimes I really don’t like romance in my fantasy novels, but I loved it in this one. I can definitely be a sucker for a good romantic side story and I loved the slow build romance in Ruined. I loved the characters and their development throughout the novel and I loved that Amy Tintera basically wrote this story in the morally grey areas. There’s no obvious good guy. Lera and Vallos have done some shitty things, but so have the Ruined. Nobody really knows where to point the finger of blame of who started the whole thing and I really enjoyed watching the main characters trying to navigate these ambiguous ethical areas.
In a way Emelina is your classic female heroine; she’s incredibly skilled in swordplay and she is bloodthirsty and unforgiving. But she’s also a 16-year old girl being married off to the son of the man who destroyed her family. She was very vulnerable. I can’t imagine any 16 year being so ruthless and still being emotionally stable. I liked that she was able to be powerful, but still show emotions and vulnerability. Same with Cas. He was never emasculated by Em, but I liked Tintera’s portrayal of him as a boy who has had power and responsibility thrust upon him and how overwhelming that feels.
I pretty much inhaled this book and I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of the next one. Ruined has the perfect cliffhanger in that it answers all your questions, but still leaves your mouth hanging out wondering what kind of crazy shit is going to go down in the next book. I need it ASAP!
Side note, I love that Amy Tintera actually says the word “sex” in this book. YA fantasy authors tend to sidestep their way around explicitly talking about sex and use all these really weird innuendos and double entendres to describe their sex scenes (looking at you Sarah J Maas), it was refreshing to see a YA author just call it what it is. Let’s all be grown-ups about it so actual teenagers can be too.