Book Report: Our highly scientific analysis of a book, from the characters to the writing style to the swoon. See More...

All’s Fair In Arranged Marriage and War

Amy Tintera delivers on her promise of action and kissing in her trilogy starter, Ruined.

All’s Fair In Arranged Marriage and War

BOOK REPORT for Ruined (Ruined #1) by Amy Tintera

Cover Story: As Ann As The Nose on Plain's Face
BFF Charm: Eventually
Swoonworthy Scale: 5
Talky Talk: No Nonsense
Bonus Factor: Gender Equality
Relationship Status: Second Date Material

Cover Story: It’s As Ann As The Nose on Plain's Face

Bland. But inoffensive, at least. It took me a while to realize those two circles were supposed to be wedding rings, so either they could do with a little embellishment or I’m pretty dense when it comes to graphics. I think probably both.

The Deal:

After her parents were killed, Ruina royal Emelina Flores would be next in line for the throne. There’s only two problems: there’s no throne to sit on, as her country has been destroyed by war, and her people wouldn’t want her to rule, anyway. Em is rare among the “Ruined”: she lacks the superpowers and skin markings they all have. She’s “useless,” as they call it. But she is anything but helpless, and now she’s fueled by a desire for revenge and a hope of finding her kidnapped sister. All she has to do is infiltrate the enemy kingdom by posing as the prince’s betrothed, find out where her sister’s being kept, and then just kill everyone. NBD.

BFF Charm: Eventually

There are so many good things about Em: she’s brave and tough, smart and capable, loyal and humble. But she’s also essentially a murderer. She’s an avenger, ruthless and methodical. I mean, it is war; the kingdom of Lera is trying to wipe out Em’s entire race just because [most of them] have magic and that scares them. And you can hardly blame someone whose mother literally believed that the way to achieve peace was to kill everyone who threatened it. Whoa, Mama! Em just needs to mature a bit and realize things aren’t as black and white as that. I think she will grow a lot as this series goes on. She’s queen material, after all, even if so many can’t see it.

Swoonworthy Scale: 5

You guys, I really like Cas. (That’s Prince Casimir, to you, though!) He’s the one Em marries, the one who believes he’s marrying Princess Mary from ally kingdom Vallos. Em is willing to do a lot to avenge her parents’ death and save her sister, including marry—and presumably consummate that marriage to—someone she believes is evil at worst, and out of touch at best. But would you believe me if I told you he’s actually pretty great? I’m sure you would, once you read the back of the book! It says:

The closer Em gets to the prince, though, the more she questions her mission. Her rage-filled heart begins to soften. But with her life—and her family—on the line, love could be Em’s deadliest mistake.

If you’re looking for an unpredictable, original love story, look further. But if you’re up for it, this one is honest and sweet and tricky, all the good ingredients for that slow burn.

Talky Talk: No Nonsense

This is a pretty straightforward book: the dialogue, action and narrative are all matter-of-fact, a lot like our main character. As I mentioned above, Em is the type of girl who does what she needs to do, regardless of whether she’s sad or hurt or nervous. She’s been trained as a skilled fighter, and her brain works well under pressure. She’s careful and pragmatic. The writing here kind of reflects that: no old-timey accents, no fancy pants poetic passages.

Bonus Factor: Gender Equality

This is obviously not our world, and I don’t know what kind of era it takes place in, but I do know there are no cell phones or refrigerators. Also, this one seems to have developed without that nasty little gigantic problem ours has had with viewing men and women as equals. (I know, I know; it’s just soooo hard to see ALL people as human, ugh!) The best part is how subtly it’s weaved into the story. It’s not a Thing. It’s not, “And because women are just as strong and smart as men, Cas’ cousin Jovita was being groomed as top advisor to the king.” The army is made of both women and men, but you only notice it halfway through the book. Nobody talks about the struggle those women undertook to get into the guard. Girls and boys inherit the throne in equal measure (aside from Em, of course; so I guess this world’s prejudice is for or against magic, depending on what country you’re from). It’s a nice change.

Casting Call:

Maisie Williams as Em

Tom Holland as Cas

Relationship Status: Second Date Material

Book, I’ll admit that I’ve had better, but only to my friends. I’d never say it to your face. I don’t want what we might possibly have together in the future RUINED (whew, that was a stretch!). I’m actually sorta looking forward to our second date. Let’s just go somewhere nicer than Olive Garden next time. (Just kidding, let’s do Olive Garden again!!)

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from HarperTeen. I wasn’t paid for this review—not with money, not even with those awesome Pfeffernusse cookies they have in stores during the holidays. Ruined is available now.

Lacey Nadeau's photo About the Author: It's taken a decade, but Lacey has finally decided she misses the beaches of Southern California where she grew up. (It took only about a minute for her to miss the Mexican food.) However, she's pretty committed to the fun and sun of Denver, CO, where she plays with spreadsheets by day, and drinks boozy slushies with her husband and puppy by night. The puppy just pretends.