Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Review: Ruined

Ruined #1
Amy Tintera
Young Adult/Fantasy
368 pages
Available Now
Source: ARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
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.

Ruined is a tale strong in story, with an easy flow that allows for the rapid turning of pages as we follow Em's journey to find her sister and unleash vengeance on those who murdered her parents.

Em, despite the need for revenge driving her initially and the ease with which she murders the young woman whose place she's taking, is a young woman with whom it's easy to settle in. She despises the royal family for systematically executing the Ruined and kidnapping her sister, but she easily keeps her rage in check and uses her time in the castle and with Cas wisely. She's also not so blinded by her hatred that she refuses to see the differences between Cas and his father, nor is she unable to acknowledge that neither side of their war has hands clean of blood. Her romance with Cas is thankfully insta-love free, an arranged marriage slowly shifting into a begrudging friendship and then finally genuine feelings, but we're spared the bold declarations of love that can often read as disingenuous.

While there's much to enjoy about this first installment, especially for those who just want to be entertained, many will likely take issue with the overall lack of world-building and history of the Ruined. We're given almost no backstory on Em's people other than fleeting glimpses here and there of an all-powerful queen who was a monster in the truest sense, and very little information on how the Ruined magic came to be, why no other race of people in this world possess any kind of magical abilities, or how the war between kingdoms started. Hopefully book two will delve deeper into Ruined history and highlight Em's mom in particular, as she was a special kind of nightmare who has the potential to be hugely memorable should we get to take a closer look at her.

Even with a distinct lack of history in this first book, there's still something deeply intriguing about Ruined, the crowns on both sides of the battle equally deserving of the title of villain, thereby ensuring we question who is and is not deserving of our loyalty throughout.

Story/Characters: 4/5
World-building/History: 3/5

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This book was sent to me by the publisher  free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.


  1. This was definitely a different story and one I really liked. I liked that it wasn't completely clear cut. Wonderful review for this Jenny!

  2. It sounds like we ave many things there! it's quite intriguing

  3. Peeps are right. First there was vampires, then dystopia, now it is fantasy...I wonder what is next?

  4. Great review, Jenny. I was hoping to review this book, but I am not so sure. The lack of world-building is frustrating. I have been reading many novels that lack that this year and I find it challenging. I'm glad the story/characters were enjoyable overall. Thanks for the honest review.

  5. I'm glad you enjoyed this one more than I did, Jenny. I definitely had trouble with the lack of world building and I wanted a bit more danger when it came to the plot. I have hopes for the sequel though. Fingers crossed that Olivia, the sister, is even more blood-thirsty of a heroine than this one!
    Lovely review! :)

  6. As much as this sounds like a compelling read with solid characters, I think I'd be one of those that would be bothered by the lack of world-building and history. You know me and my world-building LOL! Here's hoping that book 2 does address all of that because then I'll be more likely to give this series a chance :)

  7. I am glad Fantasy is having its moment! I think the lack of world-building would drive me crazy but I do love that cover!

  8. Thanks for heads up about the weak world building, Jenny. I know that would frustrate me to no end. I am going to wait to see what book 2 brings before picking this one up. It does sound entertaining though!

  9. Hmmm, I love when you break up your ratings like that and give me a very good overview of what might or might not work with me. I'm pretty bummed to hear that the world building is lacking a bit but glad to hear the romance is of the slow burn category!
    Totally keeping this one in my radar!

  10. I've been really curious about this one and have seen mixed reviews so I wasn't sure if I should get it or not. Maybe I'll wait until the next book is out. We'll see...

  11. I'm reading this right now, and although I agree with you about the flow of the story, I also agree about worldbuilding and history issues. I really don't care for Em all that much, she's a pretty inconsistent character when you think about it. Let's see how I'll feel by the end. Wonderful review as usual, Jenny!

  12. Hmm, I'm okay if there isn't much world-building, as long as I still know what's going on. Like, I don't need a full history lesson, but I need to know a little about how they are where they are now. Was that totally convoluted? lol

  13. Em sounds like an interesting character!

  14. I'm about halfway through and enjoying Ruined's story and the pace is easy and I'm actually enjoying Em's character, yet - the history could be more. Hopefully there's more to come in this series. And Olivia is really something (so far, lol.) and I want more.

    Lovely review, Jenny - as always! :)

  15. I love your review, it definitely sounds character driven.

  16. I'm really glad you broke up your rating here, Jenny, because I am very critical of world-building and find it hard to enjoy a story without sufficient world-building so I think I'll skip this one, for now, and see how the sequel fares. Great review, Jenny!