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.
Description taken from Goodreads.
Most of the reviews I’ve read for this have been love or hate, with not much in-between, but I’m in the middle on this one.
Personally, I read and loved Tintera’s debut duology. I was looking forward to her great writing and worldbuilding skills. One of the elements to those books that I loved was the main characters. They both fit into their roles so well, and they came together nicely without sacrificing who they were or what they were about.
That didn’t happen the same way here.
In Ruined, Em knows what she’s about… right up until she starts falling for Casimir. I did like these main characters as well, but for different reasons. They lacked the depth of Tintera’s previous characters, and their actions and emotions felt forced. I didn’t truly care about them at any one point during the story, and I didn’t always sympathize with them.
And then there’s the worldbuilding. I don’t think Tintera’s cut out for the traditional fantasy route, mostly because traditional fantasy includes making up your own worlds. In Ruined, the world was half-baked and hard to understand. Nothing is justified, things just are. When I did feel like I had a full grasp of what was wrong, it didn’t hit me as hard as I thought it would.
It doesn’t help that I tend to dislike it when authors make up names for things with little to no cause. Also not helpful: we’ve seen this story played out numerous times already in recent reads (The Orphan Queen and Red Queen, to name a few).
Then there was the issue of the pacing and the ending. The pacing started out great. In fact, the whole book started out pretty promising. I was loving Tintera’s writing and the shiny new people I would get to know.
But the pacing curves downhill pretty quickly, and that’s aided by the fact that a lot of this book is about nothing. The plot isn’t too substantial when you cut out all the extras, and stretching it out wasn’t that great of a move. I do like Tintera’s banter and the way she shows the relationships between her characters, but that couldn’t make all the boring scenes worthwhile.
Oh, and that ending. It’s not really worth mentioning, but I was surprised by it and I may end up picking up the next book to see what happens. I probably wouldn’t recommend this one because there are better books out there with similar plot and better execution. If you’re looking for something like this, I would highly recommend Victoria Aveyard’s Red Queen or Danielle L. Jensen’s Stolen Songbird. 2 stars.
Series: Ruined #1