Ruined by Amy Tintera, paperback novel, 355 pages, published by Allen & Unwin in 2016.
Em is a Ruined without magic, considered useless by her people, and inadequate to rule Ruina after her parents. However, she has other talents which come to fore when her parents are murdered, her sister kidnapped and her home burnt to the ground. With the help of a few faithful friends, Em seeks her revenge by infiltrating the enemy’s castle to bring about their destruction. She doesn’t count on feeling anything but hatred for the Prince of Lera, but sometimes things just don’t go to plan.
I read a sneak peek of Ruined at Epic Reads, and then went straight out and bought myself a copy. I was completely intrigued and simply had to read the rest of Em’s story. I was not disappointed. It has magic, royals, action, fantasy, deception and romance. Sure, it had some similar elements to books such as Red Queen, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and The Selection, but I never get sick of reading this sort of young adult fiction, especially those with a strong female lead. I also really enjoyed the battle and fight scenes. It was good to find a book that didn’t skimp on epic sword battles and bloodshed.
The world in which Em and Cas live seems to be split into four kingdoms, though I was a little confused as to the physical locations of them in relation to eachother. There was a brief description of where they lay, but I could have done with a little map for reference. I like a visual of new worlds, but overall it didn’t matter that much. It was much more important to know that Lera was attempting to conquer everyone else. It also wasn’t clear exactly why the Lera King was so hellbent on destroying all the Ruined. There didn’t seem to be a precipitating cause, just that of fear of what they might do, which is a ridiculous reason for extermination, but one that is not unprecedented in our own history, minus the magical ability of course. These were my only real complaints about the book, but perhaps more will be revealed in the next book.
The story was fast-paced and I appreciated all the action. It kept me flipping pages quickly right to the end. The romance was nice too, slowing building, both of them being unsure, but love can conquer anything, right? Nothing too racy either, so still good for younger readers. I liked learning about some of the politics too, and about how the kingdoms viewed one another.
I actually really liked both Em and Cas. Em was so determined to get her revenge and find her sister when she started out, but she developed some doubts as she got to know Cas. She softened and matured as the story progressed. Casimir also matured greatly through the story. He just didn’t take enough interest in what was going on between the kingdoms before Em came into his life. He trusted his parents, and what they were doing to protect the kingdom. Most children believe completely in their parents, and it can be difficult to accept that they may not be everything the child thinks they are. He was beginning to question some of his parents’ methods when dealing with the Ruined, but without Em, perhaps he would never have been brave enough to speak up and oppose them. His parents were quite cruel in many ways, and I didn’t like them. I also never liked Jovita, Cas’ cousin, she just seemed so sly all the time.
Ruined is suitable for high school students, and is the first book in a trilogy. I can’t wait for book two!