Author: Amy Tintera
Narrator: Emily Rankin
Running Time: 9 hours, 42 minutes
Goodreads Summary: 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.
Hmmm. I don’t quite know what to say about Ruined. I’m pretty torn because on the one hand it wasn’t any sort of extraordinary, stellar book, but on the other hand, the second half of the book plus that brutal cliffhanger ending have me hooked and I really want to know what happens next. I’d say in terms of technicalities, there were any equal amount of things I liked and disliked.
The plot was Ruined’s main strong point. The story was fast paced and something was always happening and every event and scene had intention and purpose. The book was incredibly readable. Tintera does a great job of starting off with a bang and hooking you and reeling you in. Further, she grips your attention with the nonstop action, intrigue, and romance.
Unfortunately, where the plot was strong, the characters faltered. I’d say the biggest problem with the characters was authenticity. They’d be presented to us as one thing but then they’d say and feel and do things contradictory to that presentation. For example, Emelina (who mostly went by “Em”), the main character, was presented to readers as this brutal girl who was totally prepared to be an inside agent in the castle—but the problem was, once she got into the castle, she nearly gave herself away a gazillion times. The only character who I felt like was really authentic was the sweet, sarcastic cinnamon roll that was Prince Casimir (“Cas” for short). He was painted as the slightly naïve prince who wanted to make a change and his actions, thoughts, and words mirrored that. There’s not much to say about secondary characters as there was a surprising lack of them—there were only two real secondary characters that got time on stage and their stories and motives weren’t explored at all.
The world building was also pretty shaky. We’re given the Spark Notes version of the world’s history but that still leaves us wit major questions like “How did the Ruined get their power? What kind of powers can they have??? Etc.” Random elements of world building were splashed across the story, but they felt more like afterthoughts. And it’s sad that the world building was so lackluster because I think if it had been set up correctly, the world could have been very interesting and dynamic.
One element I did really enjoyed was the normalized diversity in the story. There are two tiny mini scenes involving an LGBT couple and there was no fuss made over it, it was treated as though it was completely normal and familiar. Women are warriors and even generals in this world—and it’s not seen as an anomaly.
I know this looks like I had more issues with the book than not, but don’t let my feelings on the book’s technical execution fool you–I really enjoyed this book and I’m dying (dying!) to know what happens next. On the whole, I’d say if you don’t go into this book with super high expectations, you’ll come out of it rather pleased and having had a lot of fun!
Emily Rankin narrates this audiobook and, to be honest, she wasn’t my all time favorite narrator (although she most certainly is not the worst narrator I’ve listened to). She wasn’t horrible and the sound of her voice was pleasing, but I found her narration a little too dramatic for me at times. Her voice would rise and her inflections would be just so overdone that I couldn’t help but roll my eyes a little like, “Okay, we get it.” She did a fair amount of voices to distinguish between characters and I liked that and her pacing was smooth and even and just the right tempo for me personally. Even though I had some qualms about the narration, overall I enjoyed the audiobook format and would recommend it.