Published by HarperTeen on 03-05-2016
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
A revenge that will consume her. A love that will ruin her.
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.
When I read it…
I read this between April 19th and April 22nd.
What I’d heard before I read it:
Virtually nothing – I’d heard Amy Tintera’s name before, but I haven’t read any of her books. I just loved the cover and the synopsis!
What worked for me:
- Emelina: I love kick-ass characters, and we all know I have a weakness for the anti-hero, so of course I was bound to love Emelina, our feisty and ruthless main character. She’s not quite Manon Blackbeak, but she’s still pretty awesome. She’s not all-powerful or superhuman; she’s more Arya Stark than Daenarys Targaryen, and that’s okay!
- The shades of grey: Again, stories and characters that aren’t clear-cut good/bad are a bit of a weakness of mine so I loved how the characters in this are shades of grey. Rigid points of view and prejudices have to be questioned, and everyone in the story has to see whether they’re willing to bend at all – or break.
- The idea of guilt and redemption: The characters in Ruined are absolutely ruthless, there’s no doubt about that, but they’re not all heartless. I loved the fact we see characters questioning their decisions, their actions, their opinions, instead of being able to kill and manipulate completely without remorse.
“You did what you had to do.”
“I did what I chose to do.” Tears spilled over her cheeks, staining his shirt.
“Then choose better next time.”
What didn’t quite work for me:
- The world-building: The world-building seemed a bit simplistic, and a bit vague for my liking. I’d have liked more on the different kingdoms, the people, the history of the Ruined and their abilities. This is a very quick read, so I wouldn’t have minded a longer book with a bit more backstory thrown in.
- The romance: I liked Em, and I liked Cas, I’m just not sure I was convinced by Em and Cass as a relationship. I love a good ship I can get behind, but as much as I liked these two characters separately, I never truly rooted for them together romantically. As a political alliance, absolutely, as a romance, I wasn’t sold.
This was a quick and easy, addictive read. I liked the premise, the characters and the shades of grey, but it didn’t have the same extensive world-building found in my favourite YA fantasy series. A great start to a series, and definitely a series I’ll be continuing, but ultimately not a new favourite.