Genre: Young Adult | Fantasy | Romance
Publication Date: May 3, 2016
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 (goodreads).
Ruined misses the mark in terms of believable characters and in-depth world building.
Plot: I had my concerns with Ruined on the very first page. Our main character, Em, and her ragtag group of Ruined corner a royal carriage and kill everyone inside of it. The scene seemed too farfetched and just too easy. From there, Em bumbles around as the plot continues at 100 mph. I'm not quite sure how many days are explored in Ruined but it couldn't have been more than two weeks. The relationships and major plot points weren't realistic in a two-week period. However, I acknowledge that I am a character-driven reader, so this may work wonders for someone who prefers a plot-driven read. For me, I just couldn't keep up.
Characters: Em's desire for revenge leads her on a path of destruction. For someone so bent on revenge, I expected her to have a better handle on her emotions and to be focused on her plan. From the moment she steps into enemy territory she makes foolish mistakes and lets her true emotions fly more times than not. Like Em's entire plan, her relationship with Cas is not realistic. Crowned prince Cas is also, by far, the weakest character in Ruined. After one conversation with Em, he's ready to reject everything he's grown up believing and hangs onto her every word. He fell flat for me and their romance was too much too soon. On the bright side, there's no love triangle!
Worldbuilding: I desperately needed a map while reading Ruined. There are many kingdoms with different alliances and I didn't understand the political strain across all of the kingdoms. Not only that but the people, the Ruined, aren't well developed. They have powers and have been conquered but I don't know why any of this happened. Not all Ruined have the same powers so I'm even more confused.
Short N Sweet: Ruined was too much plot and not enough development for my tastes. This may work for readers who prefer plot-driven books.