Ruined by Amy Tintera (Ruined #1)
Published May 3, 2016 by HarperTeen, 368 pp.
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.
How goes it?
I bought this book on a whim and the fact that this arrived before The Rose and the Dagger makes me… mad. Sort of. Or just disappointed? Anyway, remember how I was hoping this would have something different to set it apart from similar books? I don’t think that hope has been realized. I remember closing this book after I finished and feeling nothing, which I hate because I’d rather strongly dislike what just happened than not remember a book because I couldn’t find anything to care about.
Ruined revolves around Emelina Flores, a girl from the titular peoples that have been hunted and murdered by other kingdoms. The only exception has been Olivia, her sister, who has been kidnapped, and while Em is considered useless by her fellow Ruined, her sister certainly is not. So she sets out on a grand plan of rescue: marry the prince of Lera, find out where Olivia is being held, and restore her sister to the throne of Ruina. The only hitch in the plan is that Prince Casimir, or Cas, is nothing like Em expected. He’s nice, and unlike his father, seems to think about what the Ruined have actually done to deserve this genocide. Unfortunately, plans have been set in motion, and Em isn’t in a place to stop them from happening – she’ll just have to find a way to keep Cas and herself alive until she can get her sister free.
I think my biggest issue with this is that everything is loosely tied together. Like it has a dozen potential plot holes you could poke at, and everything would just unravel once you do. For me, it began when Emelina had taken the place of the princess that was supposed to marry Cas.
“A burst of relief exploded in Em’s chest as she surveyed the princess. They had the same dark hair and olive skin. Mary had green eyes while Em’s were dark. And Mary had small, delicate features, making her pretty in a way Em would never be. But from a distance, most people wouldn’t be able to tell them apart.”
I’m just– You’re hinging your entire plan on the assumption that “from a distance, most people wouldn’t be able to tell them apart”? Seriously? This does not look like you guys thought it through, not at all. The king and queen surely know what Mary looks like. I mean what kind of parents wouldn’t make sure their son married the right girl?
Y’all guessed it: Cas’ parents.
And from there it just kept going downhill. Was no one suspicious when Em showed sympathy towards the Ruined? Expressed sentiments that don’t really sound like someone who has hunted Ruined, someone whose parents were killed by them? When she started asking about Olivia, did Cas bat an eyelash?
You got it: nope.
But they all knew something was off. The queen remarked that her skills as a fighter were above the skills of even a trained Vallos soldier, when even trained Vallos soldiers weren’t that good. The king said that Em aka Mary is “nothing like her parents”, and in the same breath admitting that he “was wrong to make you marry her without getting to know her first.” Em and Iria, who is from a kingdom that is under suspicion of harboring Ruined, go around the palace, discussing their plans of escape and takeover without fear of being discovered.
I could probably look past these if other elements of this were good, but unfortunately they aren’t. The world-building is vague – there are mentions of three kingdoms, but that’s it, and everything else, even the Lera palace, is described in motherhood statements – the characters are unmemorable, and I didn’t get the romance.
See, I really don’t mind romance in my books, but if it isn’t a romance novel and it somehow manages to take over everything, that’s when I have a problem with it. I was led to believe (by that summary!!) that Em would be bloodthirsty and hellbent on revenge, but unfortunately that’s not the case. It only took a few days for Em to transition from being constantly suspicious to wanting to be someone else because she had begun to develop feelings for Cas.
I get it, kind of, because Cas is, in Em’s own words, kind, reliable, and thoughtful. But — he’s kind of vanilla? I suppose for Emelina that’s good, but I don’t see it. Different strokes for different folks I guess.
Overall, oh my god why did this arrive before The Rose and the Dagger?? Where in the world are you, books? Seriously though, would not recommend if you’ve read the following: Red Queen, The Selection, Sword and Verse, or anything where people have been persecuted just for existing, because all the elements in this are familiar.
Familiar plot, storyline, characters, and vague world-building would probably make this one of my most forgettable books this year. Let’s see. If you’ve read anything similar I’d say skip this one.