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Ruined Hardcover – May 3, 2016
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From School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—Unlike most other people from Ruina, Emelina Flores has no magical abilities. After her parents, the king and queen, are murdered and her younger sister is kidnapped, Em must rely on her cunning and skill with a sword to exact revenge against the royal family of Lera and rescue her sister. She quickly dispatches Princess Mary of neighboring Vallos and takes her place as the bride of Prince Casimir in order to infiltrate the castle. But unlike his genocidal father, Cas is kind, and Em is unexpectedly attracted to him. When an army of warriors from the kingdom of Olso attacks, per Em's plan, she has to struggle with her new affection for her husband as she continues her quest to destroy Lera. Em is a resilient and likable heroine with a wry sense of humor, a knack for self-preservation, and the fighting prowess to match. Cas is a sympathetic character who is a skilled fighter with a sense of duty to his family and country. Secondary characters are more narrowly focused on defending their respective kingdoms and don't display much depth. Told in the alternating points of view of Em and Cas, the book features action, palace intrigue, romance, and a large spattering of blood and gore. Just when it appears possible that love might conquer hate, there is a twist at the book's end guaranteeing a sequel that will likely be even more violent. VERDICT This book will appeal to fans of female-powered battle-filled epic fantasy.—Martha Simpson, Stratford Library Association, CT
“Amy Tintera’s Ruined is so packed with action, intrigue, and romance, I was holding on for dear life until the very last page!” (Kiera Cass, #1 NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author of The Selection)
“A taut, riveting adventure full of magic, murder, and heart-stopping romance. I burned through this book!” (Michelle Krys author of Hexed)
“With a vibrant and intriguing world and conflicted characters you’ll love, Ruined is the perfect blend of fantasy, adventure and romance. I read it in one sitting!” (NEW YORK TIMES bestseller Amie Kaufman)
“Em is a fascinating heroine, and that alone will make readers eager for the sequel.” (Booklist)
“Tintera’s mix of violence and vengeance with a star-crossed-lovers story offers an olive-skinned heroine and only slightly lighter-skinned hero, abundant angst, and plentiful cinematic action sequences.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“Em is a resilient and likable heroine with a wry sense of humor, a knack for self-preservation, and the fighting prowess to match. This book will appeal to fans of female-powered battle-filled epic fantasy.” (School Library Journal)
Praise for REBOOT: “Fast paced and thrilling…I devoured this book!” (Veronica Rossi, NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author of UNDER THE NEVER SKY)
Praise for REBOOT: “A riveting premise, a romance with substance, and the urgent narrative voice lend [REBOOT] a burst of fresh energy.” (Publishers Weekly)
Praise for REBOOT: “Compulsively readable…Superb concepts and plotting will hook readers from the start.” (Kirkus Reviews)
Praise for REBOOT: “A fascinating premise, delivered in gory and glorious cinematic detail—and with a healthy dose of romance…The quick pace, familiar yet altered setting, and strong humanitarian message will draw Hunger Games fans.” (Booklist)
Top customer reviews
So basically Prince Casimir and Emelina are caught in the middle in a pretty messy web of loyalties, ethical debates over the actions of their parents, and their eventual feelings for each other. (Let's take a moment to appreciate the slow burn romance that works). I loved how there really is no villain and nothing is black/white. Everyone's done something to hurt the other side, so the conflicts keeps escalating in the name of revenge and self-preservation. It’s not super deep or anything -- it's just nice to find a more believable YA fantasy plot that isn't overly simplistic.
I genuinely LOVED all of the characters and the alternating POVs between Cas & Em. I like when authors let you get a solid sense of a character through their actions, observations, and what they deem to be choices instead of just describing them with cliche adjectives (or worse, leaving them as an empty shell to spout dialogue). For such a fast plot, the characters are impressively complex, flawed, diverse, and grow so much throughout just a few chapters. And I realllllly appreciated that Em isn't some "Chosen One" princess with the magic her sister has, yet doesn't let herself be defined by being ordinary either — she just does what she can with what she has.
Also, I super love how men and women are equal in this book without either of their identities stemming from the presence and strength (or lack thereof) of the other. Too many authors try to make their YA heroines "strong" by having them be rude to men or by emphasizing the absence of a man in the women's achievements (which is still defining women through men). All of the characters here are strong in their own right. (And I'm also tired of seeing gratuitous rape scenes & the absence of LGBTQ characters in some fantasy novels for the sake of "historical accuracy"). In this story, Olso has female warriors, Lera’s general is a woman, a prominent character is gay, and none of it's touted as a big deal. So that's a smaller detail in execution, but I thought it was really well done.
Thank you to the publisher for sending me a review copy!!!
**Very slight spoilers ahead**
There's nothing I love more than a high-stakes game with a relationship that starts out with an "I love to hate you, hate to love you" vibe.
War already ravages Em's home and endangers her people, and as the non-magic eldest daughter of Ruina's murdered queen, Em is overlooked and forgotten by the rest of her refugee Ruined, but that doesn't stop her from doing all she can to avenge her parents and kidnapped sister. With the help of two close friends, Em puts her plan for revenge into action at the start of the book; infiltrate the enemy nation of Lera by posing as the Leran prince's betrothed.
What follows is a story of unlikely friendship, a mutual desire to prove worthy, and family loyalty. Em and Cas make for intriguing heroes; she has everything to gain, and he has everything to lose. Em is hotheaded yet analytical, determined to follow through with her plan; Cas is calm and intelligent, yet allows his opinionated parents to dictate much of his life. What starts as a tense and forced companionship between the two eventually shifts into understanding and friendship, which only makes Em's task that much more difficult to follow through, and Cas' eventual loss all the greater.
Filled with interesting characters, decent world building, and a quick-paced plot that captivates and holds attention, I loved Ruined right out of the Amazon box. The action starts immediately in the first chapter, and the subtle suspense and precarious nature of Em's mission continues right up until the end. I wasn't expecting a split-POV read, and when the second chapter switched to Cas' POV, I *was* a bit thrown. However, Cas' voice and personality connected with me right away, and worked as a perfect balance to Em's often survival-oriented mind. The slow, gradual building of Cas and Em's relationship is extremely satisfying, and by the climax of the book, I realized I had yet another OTP (One True Pairing for non-fanpersons).
While romance is certainly a part of this book (I'd be lying if I said romance wasn't a factor in my decision to read it *hopeless romantic alert*), it's far from being the main focus. A greater focus is on the friendships between the characters - Aren and Damian are two Ruined who have stuck by Em through the war and the running, and stood by her with support when she devises what the other Ruined would call a doomed plan, if they knew of it at all. The Prince Casimir's friendship with guard Galo is both fun and serious, a brotherly relationship full of complete trust and respect, made more real by the good-natured teasing between the two. Both Em's and Cas' friends play an important role in shaping their development throughout this first installment, and I foresee their even greater importance in future books.
I would suggest RUINED to everyone who's a fan of fantasy and YA, but particularly to those in love with the series of Sarah J. Maas' THRONE OF GLASS, Victoria Aveyard's RED QUEEN, Sara Raasch's SNOW LIKE ASHES, Sara B. Larson's DEFY, and Kristen Cashore's GRACELING and FIRE. High stakes, intrigue, magic, and precarious "Romeo and Juliet"-esque romance (minus the hasty nature) spins RUINED into a well-woven YA fantasy, and cements its place on my Top Shelf of favorite books to re-read.
FIVE out of FIVE stars, + bonus star for the adorable friendships, including the one that grows between Cas and Em.