Ruined – Amy Tintera – HarperTeen – Published 3 May 2016
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.
Ruined is an action-packed fantasy with plenty of vibrant characters, violent battles, and swoony romance.
It’s really interesting to start a book with a very strong heroine, instantly likeable but who wants to show the humans pain and make them pay, who has been raised to value violence, war and destruction. That’s what we find in Emelina, daughter of the feared Queen of the Ruined. Emelina has no Ruined powers herself, so instead relies on her ability to fight and deceive to seek vengeance for the murder of her mother and father, help find her kidnapped sister, save the Ruined from continued persecution and execution, and rid the world of the evil that is the royalty of Lera. First step in that plan is impersonating Lera’s Prince Cas’ fiancé.
Em and Cas start as strangers, with Em fiercely despising Cas and everything he stands for. But it isn’t long before Em starts to realise that Cas is nothing like his father, the King of Lera. While the feelings and attraction between Em and Cas do develop pretty quickly, Em’s reluctance to completely overthrow her long-held hatred for the Lera prevents it from feeling too quick. They have some great chemistry and really click through their shared use of sarcasm and growing unease over the killings and torture of the Ruined. Their romance story feels genuine and strong and I’m looking forward to seeing what will happen in the next book regarding their relationship.
Ruined has no shortage of fierce action scenes, murder, revenge plots, hot kissing scenes, two really strong main characters, an epic fantasy world and all the drama of rivalling kingdoms.
As this is the first book in a new series, the ending is predictable left open for future developments. There is no cliffhanger but there are plenty of new developments and the promise of more action and twists to come before Em and Cas will find peace (and convince everyone else that peace is something to strive for).
Ruined is a really enjoyable fantasy and a great start to an exciting new series.
The publishers provided a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Category: Young adult fiction.
Themes: Family, royalty, vengeance, love and romance, magic powers, oppression, fantasy and magic.
Reading age guide: Ages 13 and up.
Advisory: Violence, frequent deaths, torture and battles, sometimes with graphic descriptions. Sexual references to marriage beds and sex.
Published: 3 May 2016 by HarperTeen.
Format: Hardcover, paperback, ebook, audio. 368 pages.