Fun fact for the republishing of this review; I read this right after it was released because Amy Tintera’s last series captivated me so much, and I read more than half of it in one sitting during a bus trip to Canada’s Wonderland. If you are ever looking for a book that is just plain fun, this author knows exactly how to do so.
In the longest series Tintera has made so far, the hero is Emelina Flores, daughter of the queen of Ruina, Wanda Flores, before she was executed by an ambush from Lera soldiers. In this world, there’s Ruina (the poorest and home of the Ruined, people born with superpowers), Olso, Vallos, and Lera (the home of the wealthy, and home of the king who ordered the ambush.) The prince of Lera, Cas, or Cassimir, is about to be married to the princess of Vallos, Mary, against his will, the objective of the king to unite those countries. Well, with the help of Em’s Ruined friends, Damian and Aren, as well as with the support of the whole Ruina population, she just might bring the whole Lera castle and empire down, and this marriage presents opportunity.
Just think of Keira Cass’s The Selection with Amy Tintera’s Reboot painted over it and this will be what you’ll get. Reboot was a pleasant surprise, taking both sides of every argument thrown its way, the powers of being able to mend bones after breaking them was freaky, and there was very real development with Wren Connolly’s character. This is the same sort of case here, except just not as well made in comparison.
My biggest flaw with the book is it isn’t original. Like, at all. If I hadn’t already read two-hundred books before this I might’ve loved it as much as Reboot. But one thing I felt Amy Tintera could’ve done was give some science fiction or clarity behind the powers of The Ruined. It’s clear with Ruined powers you can manipulate someone’s arms and you’re very tired out after having to use them, but there are other times where they use their magic for other random things, and there are countless other teen books like The Reckoners that really explain the individual powers and books like Michael Vey and The Lunar Chronicles that blend real science to the superpowers. In Ruined it feels too plain. The idea of Ruined’s being marked is original enough though, and in their defence, this book certainly has a sense of truth; the Ruined are more powerful so people are afraid of them more. People with history of violence and weapons are feared the same way in real life.
You want to know a huge difference with most of the YA novels out there with this one though? Obviously the leading family of Lera never saw Mary before which would be impossible in this day so the time setting, especially considering there are horse carts, not cars, is sometime in a past century. Most YA novels are in the far distant future, which isn’t a bad thing necessarily. In fact, most books I’ve read that take place in the past have bored me. But being able to keep my attention the way this book has was very impressive.
Another little thing I should mention is this book is very fast-paced. Fast-paced to the point where there might not be too much on character development and the entire novel almost feels like two novels grinded together. The more I think about it, more happens in this, in terms of action, than the entire Selection trilogy. And maybe if the book was able to spend a little more time getting to know how it felt having your parents killed, then maybe I would’ve enjoyed the ride more. And there’s a side story with Damian I really didn’t see coming, a timeless conflict in wars that reminded me of a case in the film The Imitation Game. Also, though it occasionally seems Cas never really payed any attention whatsoever to his father’s studies, which can be some cases (do you know what your parents have to worry about at work?), but still not too often, the arguments he is able to make with his father are slick, a little chilling, and actually very relatable. Though I didn’t really care about these characters that that much when I first read it, I cared about the outcome of their arguments. This quarter-divided world Amy has built is actually a little bigger than the Reboot one, I must say. I had an image of Olso, Lera, Vallos and Ruina, all of which were colourful and I’d want to maybe visit the place. I still don’t know why the people of Ruina are the only ones with powers, but this is the sort of books that asks you to “just-go-along-with-it.”
In the end, I’m recommending Ruined for the way I’m interested in this world and the tense moments, and if you want a book straight to the point, this is it. But Amy Tintera’s Reboot duology is much better, and more self-explanatory.
If you like this, I’d try: The Valiant by Lesley Livingston