A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Fantasy meant to entertain.
Just because you've made mistakes and bad choices in the past doesn't mean you have to do the same thing in the future; you can "choose better next time." Even if you don't have any special abilities, you're still a valuable person; don't let anyone make you feel like you're less. Your power lies in how you make others feel about you. There aren't overt messages about gender equality, but men and women are warriors and soldiers, women occupy positions of power, and female children can inherit thrones.
Positive Role Models
Em is a strong, determined heroine who changes from being fixated on revenge to understanding the emotional and physical damage done by using the same brutal tactics as her enemies. She wants to break the cycle and find a better way. Casimir is learning how to step out from his father's shadow and think for himself, and he wants to work toward a future at peace with the surrounding kingdoms. Both learn that their prejudices against others are baseless and only perpetuate harm to themselves and society. Both have loyal, helpful friends; family members are problematic.
Violence & Scariness
Frequent sword fights and skirmishes include some magical abilities and describe the action with blows, kicks, stabbing, slicing, and killing. Blood is mentioned but not described in detail; there's no gore. Characters are frequently in peril. Past executions are mentioned. An execution takes place but it's not directly described.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
The noticing of a growing attraction, a few kisses including a couple of the same sex, and the possibility of sex on a wedding night are mentioned; nothing's described in detail. One passage briefly describes passionate kissing, undressing, and making out.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters of age drink wine occasionally, usually with meals or at celebrations, and there's one speculation about getting a hangover the next day. Mention of the queen drinking to cope with sadness.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Ruined is the first of a planned fantasy trilogy by Amy Tintera (of the Reboot series). Action, romance, and magic combine in this new, non-dystopian series. There's some violence in fights and battles but no gore other than a mention of blood. Mention of killing and executions is frequent. Sexual content is mild: a budding romance with a few kisses that aren't described, although one passage briefly describes passionate kissing and making out. The protagonists are learning to overcome their prejudices toward each other and let go of their need for revenge, and they're starting to hope they can end the conflict and live peacefully in the future. It's also a refreshingly gender-equal fantasy world, with both sexes shown as soldiers and leaders.
Is It Any Good?
Author Amy Tintera ably combines action, romance, and fantasy with relatable, compelling protagonists and a plot that keeps the pages turning. Fans of her Reboot series should know that this one lacks any dystopian elements, and while there's still plenty of action, it's less violent. Teens will relate to both protagonists' struggles as they learn to overcome their prejudices, rely heavily on loyal friends, and start to forge their own identities separate from family expectations.
Romance is more at the forefront of the story, but all the elements are combined in a well-structured, fast-paced plot. The cliffhanger ending will leave readers eager for the next installment.
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