Amy Tintera’s RUINED features of my all-time favorite protagonists, Em. I am always on the lookout for more protagonists who aren’t very nice, whose motives are steeped in moral ambiguity, and Em is exactly that. At the beginning of the novel, she is furious and bold, driven by grief, injustice, and a lot of anger. She is layered and fierce, and her pain is almost tangible. Her growth is simply stunning, especially as she learns to see kindness once again.
Between Em’s (and the Ruined’s) quest for revenge and the enemy kingdom’s horrifying ethics, there is a lethal edge to the story that will make readers clutch the book until their fingers cramp from anxiously trying to read as quickly as possible. While the story (thankfully) doesn’t go near any Game of Thrones level of death, it’s also not afraid to kill off characters with firm purpose, with more than one dealing a strong emotional blow. With the action and life-or-death scenarios, this is an excellent pick for anyone in a reading slump or for reluctant readers.
The slow burn romance begins a touch predictably, but instead of continuing to fall into a usual pattern, it takes some swift and rewarding turns. The moment of truth between Em and Cas, the crown prince, comes sooner than expected and doesn’t wait until book two to sort some things out. However, the twist-fueled ending will still leave a mountain of questions and an intense desire for the sequel.
RUINED is a must-read for the year. The dangerous circumstances, the battles between blood, love, and justice, and the gripping intensity will, in the best way, leave the reader as the title indicates: ruined.