Ruined (Ruined, #1) by Amy Tintera
Series: Ruined #1
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: May 3, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 368
Format: e-ARC
Source: Edelweiss

Purchase/Pre-order: Amazon ◊ Barnes & Noble

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.

Quick Thoughts and Rating: 5 stars! I fell in love with Tintera’s debut duology, Reboot and Rebel, so I’m not going to lie to you, my expectations were set pretty high entering this first installment of her new fantasy trilogy. I’d say more than anything, not only was I surprised (but not too surprised) to learn that she could and would meet those high expectations, but clearly a little mystified that she was able to flat-out surpass them, if I’m being perfectly honest. After this first book, I’m all in because it was seriously that epic.

Ruined was the sum of all my favorite parts of reading fantasy: badass heroine-ism (because why isn’t there a specific word for a badass heroine already!?), a swoony prince with serious sword skills, battles to the death, amazing plot and pacing with a dash of adventure, and some intriguing world building.

Review: This review section is going to be pretty short and a little vague because spoilers are real and apparently not everyone is similar to myself and welcomes the knowledge actually cares if they learn details prior to reading them on their own. I’ll try to watch myself here.

From very early on in this novel, I knew that Tintera had once again managed to create some amazingly memorable characters. Written in third person, Ruined closely follows our heroine, Emelina Flores (aka Em), and her “husband” and Prince of Lera, Casimir (aka Cas) as they navigate the trials that come with betrothals–though a deceptive one in this case–all while Em secretly hatches a plot to bring Lera to their knees for what they’ve done to her family, her people, particularly the ones with Ruined power, and her home, Ruina. From the start, I latched on to Em’s character. She’s intelligent, determined, capable, and a fighter even when others underestimate her character or when her own people completely disregarded her worth as a leader because she doesn’t have the Ruined power and is considered “useless.” But she’s also snarky, humorous, a little shy, and sometimes vulnerable. Her character felt truly fleshed out and I championed her so damn hard. Cas was also a really interesting character. I liked the faith that Em had in his integrity, that it made her question her own. I loved that he voiced his opinions even when they weren’t the popular one. But mostly I adored that he listened, had morals, and even after learning certain truths, he wasn’t quick to jump to conclusions or outright hate. Neither character was perfect, but damn did they feel real and I truly adored them together. Aside from these two, the story is also held up by some pretty exceptional secondary characters as well. I could talk for ages about all of them and how Tintera managed to make them such an integral part of the plot–yeah, sorry, no cardboard stereotypical characters in this bunch–but that could go on forever and might really lead to some of those spoilery bits I’m trying so hard to avoid.

The plot was fantastic and kept me intrigued and guessing the entire length of the novel. Just when I thought I had everything figured out, Ms. Tintera would have it happen earlier than I expected and I would get all wiggle-excited because there. Was. More! To be read. The writing and pacing were stellar as well. I felt like I only had a few spare moments to catch my breath or to slow my heart rate and, in those times, I was chewing on information that the author was feeding us and interweaving so effortlessly throughout the plot. So, when my heart wasn’t hammering, my mind was running away with me. She balanced the dialogue/interactions, backstory/new details, and world-building so easily and the text never felt weighed down or like I was given too much or too little information. Of course, there’s still so much to be learned about the other regions and why everyone is truly at war, but with two more installments to come, I feel like the author has plenty of time to fill in those gaps and missing moments.

As for some of my other favorite bits, I really loved all the relationships in this book. The constant companions, old friends, new friends, and especially the romance. Everything felt real, very fluid and occurring at a natural pace. I seriously wanted to inhale it all and let in live inside myself so I could reflect on it at a deeper level and bask in all the awesome. (Or maybe this is just the Benadryl talking. Pollen can take a flying leap already because I am dying. I digress…) Tintera also sprinkled some bits of diversity all throughout this novel that made my heart positively sing. Also, did I mention that there’s a kickass heroine in this? Yeah, but not just that, there’s kind of several amazing ladies (even amazingly AWFUL) in this book and I wanted to go all “EFF YEAH GIRL POWER, SUCK IT DUDES!” with some added FISTPUMPS-O-FURY thrown in for good measure. It’s so nice to see females being portrayed as someone to be feared and powerful and intelligent, even when at times they’re scary kickass or bloodthirsty kickass or evil kickass. I couldn’t get enough.

So, yeah, sorry about that “not long review” because apparently I had many “not-spoilerish” words to spare. I’d hesitate to call the ending a cliffhanger because this novel definitely held a note of completion, but it absolutely left off in a way that felt very “tune in next time” in a really eerily foreboding and fascinating way. Overall, this novel rocked my socks and I really, really cannot wait to get more of these words, world, and characters. Bring on the adventure of wicked-awesomeness!

Teaser Quote: I highlighted quite a bit because this author has amazing dialogues, thoughtful opinions, and knows the exact way to phrase something to have the most emotional impact. I decided on the following because I think it best introduces a heroine I really grew to love and respect.

     Make people fear you, Emelina. Her mother’s words echoed in her head. Stop worrying about what you don’t have and start focusing on what you do. Make people tremble when they hear your name. Fear is your power.
     Wenda Flores had never known days when the Ruined were feared for powers and revered as gods, but she longed for those days. She wanted nothing more than to make the humans bow down in terror.
     Em lifted her head, fixing her gaze straight ahead.
     No one feared Emelina Flores, the useless daughter of the most powerful queen Ruina had ever known. 
     But they would.
~quote taken from the e-ARC of Ruined at 4%

Book Rating Breakdown
General Book Feels

Rec It? Of course I am, obviously! My heart stayed in my throat or at my feet, and was known to flutter around in my chest on occasion, too. If you like your heart feeling like it’s been run through a metaphorical Olympic trial, toss all your money at Ms. Tintera and invest in this sure-to-be-kickass trilogy. (I’m pretty sure I’m never going to be allowed to write “kickass” in a review again. I’ve used and abused it to much in this one, but that doesn’t make it any less true.) I know I wasn’t ready to for this one to come to an end. I definitely need more, so what kind of Ruined power to I need to possess to have this in my fingers as soon as humanly possible. I mean, I don’t want to come across as desperate or anything, but I totally am, so. . .yeah.

Anyhoodles, go add this to your  TBR, go pre-order it, and after you’ve read it, come talk to me so we can flail about it together!

♥ A very special thanks to HarperTEEN and Edelweiss for providing me with an advanced copy of this title.

*Disclaimer: An eARC of these title was provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. However, that did not influence this review in any way. All thoughts, quotes, and opinions will be of this version and not of the published edition.

Full of giggles, flails, snark and Southern endearments. Avid Reader. Lover of swoony boys, kickass heroines, yummy kissing scenes, and pretty prose.

I like to draw hearts in the sky (eternal optimist) and wish on stars (forever dreamer). Documentaries, sweet tea, sleep, and brightly colored knee-socks are a few of my favorite things. ♥

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