Revenge, action, romance, magic… It’s hard not to fall in love with Ruined, the first novel in author Amy Tintera’s new fantasy series.
The Ruined (a race of magical power-wielding people) have only one hope left and her name is Emmelina Flores, Princess of the Ruined. Powerless and seeking revenge for her parents’ murder and sister’s capture, Em disguises herself as the betrothed of the kingdom of Lera’s beloved Prince Casimir. Her mission: Destroy Lera’s royal family from the inside out and find out where they’ve taken her sister. Not part of her mission: Actually falling for Casimir.
Em is desperate to save her sister, but, after living in Lera, finds herself questioning her mission and the lengths she’ll go to exact her revenge. With multiple kingdoms at war and her people counting on her, caring for the Prince may be Em’s biggest mistake.
‘Ruined’ book review
From the very first sentence, Ruined is a non-stop spy and war adventure. Not only that, but it’s a spy and war adventure that has an incredibly strong and nuanced female main character. Em is nothing less than fascinating. One minute, she’s stabbing someone with a sword and the next she’s reflecting on her reputation of weakness and second-guessing herself. Em is not just one thing, which makes her a really interesting character. I have a feeling that we haven’t yet seen all of the facets of her personality, which makes me even more excited for the rest of the series.
Aside from Em herself, one of the most fascinating aspects of Ruined is the moral dilemma that Em’s plan evokes. She knows that the atrocities that the King of Lera has committed against her people are unspeakable and cruel. There’s no excuse for the genocide. And yet, is her plan for revenge any better or more diplomatic? Em, Cas, and the rest of the key power players constantly discuss the morality and ethics of killing for (relative) peace, which makes for a really interesting read. It’s hard not to go back and forth on the issue as you read Ruined, demonstrating just how well-written this novel is.
Another indication of the quality of Amy Tintera’s writing? The fact that even though Ruined is the first novel in a new series, the story in the first book is not dependent on the second. Many times with YA series, the first book sets up the circumstances of the series and then has an incredibly rushed ending/climax. Not only that, but there’s not much satisfaction at the end of first novels. That’s not the case with Ruined. The story is solid from start to finish and while the ending does leave you yearning for more (and desperate for the next novel to come out ASAP), it still has a relatively satisfying climax and falling action.
Speaking of “satisfying,” the romance in Ruined is amazing. Em and Cas’ relationship is a constant ebb and flow, with a lot of slow burn and really gratifying romantic moments. It’s hard not to feel butterflies while during their interactions as well as when they’re just thinking about each other. Because Ruined alternates character views by chapter, switching between Em and Cas, we get a better idea of what both characters are thinking and how their respective situations affect their feelings. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a YA romance stick with me long after I’ve finished the book. Well done, Amy Tintera.
Ruined is definitely one of this year’s must-reads in terms of YA and fantasy. It’s such an exciting and intriguing story from beginning to end that it’s almost impossible to put down.