Review Detail

Ruined Featured
Young Adult Fiction 1622
Must read for the year
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
Emelina Flores is out for vengeance and justice. Her people, the Ruined, have been ceaselessly slaughtered, and her sister, the one set to one day rule the Ruined, has been kidnapped. Though Emelina is considered a useless Ruined (not having any of the magic the others do), she will do whatever it takes to get her sister back and help her people. Her plan involves pretending to be Princess Mary, the future wife of the enemy kingdom’s prince. It is her job to set everything up for the ambush, but as she gets to know the prince, far different than what she imagined, she will find herself questioning her role and her mission.

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.
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