Book Review | Ruthless Magic

How was your Wednesday, me lovely beans?
Has Summer officially started for you??  :]

Here's a new book review.

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Ruthless Magic
Conspiracy of Magic #1
Megan Crewe

ebook | May 30, 2018
YA Fiction, Dystopian, Fantasy

In the contest to keep their magic, the only options may be die... or kill.

Each year, the North American Confederation of Mages assesses every sixteen-year-old novice. Some will be chosen. The rest must undergo a procedure to destroy their magical ability unless they prove themselves in the mysterious and brutal Mages' Exam.

Disadvantaged by her parents' low standing, Rocío Lopez has dedicated herself to expanding her considerable talent to earn a place in the Confederation. Their rejection leaves her reeling—and determined to fight to keep her magic.

Long ashamed of his mediocre abilities, Finn Lockwood knows the Confederation accepted him only because of his prominent family. Declaring for the Exam instead means a chance to confirm his true worth.

Thrown into the testing with little preparation, Rocío and Finn find themselves becoming unlikely allies—and possibly more. But the Exam holds secrets more horrifying than either could have imagined. What are the examiners really testing them for? And as the trials become increasingly vicious, how much are they willing to sacrifice to win?

The first in a new series by USA Today bestselling author Megan Crewe, Ruthless Magic combines the magic of Harry Potter with the ferocity of The Hunger Games alongside a poignant romance. Fans of Cassandra Clare and Holly Black, look no further for your next urban fantasy fix!

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WARNING: Possible Spoilers
I received an ARC copy in exchange for my honest review.

{The Basics}
So, you know how people say, "Never judge a book by its cover"?  Yeah, well, I'm sure guilty of doing that.  And ya know what?  There's nothing wrong with it!  Pretty covers are most likely the first reason of why you pick up a book, am I right? (Psst. You know I am.)  The cover gives you a visual of what to expect, so to say.  And when it's visibly intriguing and awesome and enchanting, why would you not pick it up to see what it's about?  

Needless to say, that's what I thought when I saw the cover of this novel.  I mean, look at it!  It's awesome!  Definitely draws you in.  But I ramble.  On to the review!

Finn has had to fight his whole life.  His family is old magic, but for him, it just doesn't come naturally.  Rocío, on the other hand, has an extremely powerful sense of the magic around her and she is a natural.  The story follows the two of them and their journey to prove themselves.  If I had to sum up this novel in one sentence, I would say, "Basically, the Hunger Games, but with magic."

{Positives}
Finn and Rocío have a good sense that all is not fair and true in the world.  They question the direction their government has led the people and it's their genuine wish to use their magic to better their homes and society.

{Negatives}
A jerk spits into a tray of eggs---twice---taunting Finn.  One character (female) shares a bit of her background, stating at one point that she was only interested in kissing girls. . .  There at least two total references to this.  Someone talks of clubs and pretty girls.

The examinees are separated into dorms---co-ed.  (Nothing happens, of course, and possibly not worth mentioning, but it's highly unwise to put a mix of teen boys and girls together no matter what stress or trials they are facing.)

{Spiritual Content}
Magic plays a rather large part in this tale (no DUH), hence the title.  We learn it is basically a living entity that resides in the energy of the air all around them---somebody states that the magic is alive.  To cast spells, one uses Latin words (though it's not required, Rocío uses Spanish songs and lullabies) and songs or poetry to conjure a " 'chantment."  Magic takes energy from the wielder, and when overused can leave them exhausted.  The teens use magic to numb pain and to seal wounds.

Rocío has a deep connection to the magic.  Many times during the Exam, she senses it almost as a tangible presence.  

{Violence}
Dampered is a term where those who are not accepted into the college to continue their studies in magic and who do not challenge for the Exam have the majority of their magic taken from them, leaving only a small percentage.  They still possess some form of talent that helps them in their daily work (i.e. weaving, carpentry, cooking, etc.), but for the most part, something is missing.  Burnout or burned out is a term used to describe a person who's had all of their magic taken from them, leaving them rather useless---outcasts.  This is what happens to those who fail the Exam or do something the authority greatly dislikes.

A young man is severely injured after defying orders.  He casts a spell at a secure door, it bounces back slicing his forehead and drawing blood.  He falls dead---or so they think (just unconscious, apparently)---and the examiners come to take him away.

A guy is nearly incinerated by magic---he has severe burns all over his body, and his heart stops once before the examiners take him away.  (We do not really know if he ever made it or not. . .)

Rocío's back is shredded by a creature's claws.  Characters are beaten, bruised, broken bones, crushed limbs, cracked ribs, slashed, gashed, etc. etc.  Lots and lots of blood and gore.  One girl is literally crushed in a cage of sorts---we don't see it but we hear her terrified screams and a gurgle. . . To survive, teens turn on each other, beating with whatever weapons they found in the arena.  A boy is killed by a blow to the head, his body floats on the little fountain he was near.  At least two other boys are taken down by a girl with a deadly whip.  One character tosses his victims from a tall platform.  And so on. . .

A girl's pinkie finger is severed in a fight.  A boy mutilates his own hand in order to escape a trap. 

{Language // Alcohol & Drugs}
"D---," "d---ed," and "pissed" are used at least once, if not multiple times.  "What the h---," "where in Hades," "sure as h---," and "thank the Fates" are used quite often, along with other mythological references.  At least one use of "a--," which is used to describe one horrid jerk of a guy.  Rocío uses "Dios mio" several times, as well as the Spanish form of "f---" once.  (Yep, I know.)  Someone uses the phrase "thumb up his butt" indicating initiative to impress the authority.  Someone uses "O gods" a time or two.

None.

{Romantic Content}
At one point, Finn notices a necklace Rocío's mother gave to her right before the Exam (for luck) which sits at the top of her breasts. . . he quickly looks away before she catches him looking at them.  Though they've only known each other for literally two days (five, by the end of the Exam), there is a great attraction between Finn and Rocío.  They share an intimate kiss at least once.  On the second night of the Exam, Rocío teleports them to safety underground, under the arena.  They spend the night in a protective bubble shield, enjoying each others' company.  The spend another night alone together later---nothing happens either time.

At another time, Finn is shirtless while Rocío heals his cracked ribs (with magic).  She runs a hand over his bare back. (Again, nothing happens.)

To cover an injury to her back under the shredded remains of her shirt, Rocío uses a torn sheet., but someone bumps into her at one point causing it to come loose.  While struggling to reattach it for modesty's sake, Finn offers to help and in so doing notices her tan skin and the "sliver of her bra."  He quickly finishes and moves on, but it's clear he's certainly attracted.

{Conclusion}
To say the least, this story was an interesting concept to me.  The magic was intriguing, to be sure, and it was honorable in a way to see Finn and Rocío and the allies they made stick together and protect one another---fighting for what they believed in, and believing they had a chance to change their world.  

However, due to the unexpected amount of language, and the COMPLETELY unnecessary reference to homosexuality, I can only give this three out of five stars.  By the time I was halfway through, I was getting tired of the tale.  It was so similar to The Hunger Games and other dystopian stories, where kids are forced to kill others and the authorities put them through unimaginable terrors (not to mention the government has a stranglehold on the entire society), I was ready to move on.  That, and the fact it was written in first person from the point of view of both Finn and Rocío.  First person is certainly not my favorite style, though there are books I enjoy reading it in, but finding and reading it through BOTH the eyes of Finn and Rocío was distracting at times.  I would have enjoyed it more if it was from one or the other's POV, with the opposite being in third person (if that makes sense).  But there were times I read two or three chapters thinking it was the girl when it was Finn, or vice versa, though the chapters do state who's POV it is.

Anywho, it was interesting, but not a must-read.  If you liked The Hunger Games books and all others in that particular genre, then you will like this one.  Don't take my word for it!  Just be aware of the language and content is all.  :]

Ages 16+

2 comments

  1. Oooh, this actually sounds like a book I'd love. For some crazy reason I'm one of the few who's not quite tired yet of the Hunger Game-type stories. XD And The Hunger Games with magic? YES PLEASE!!! If I ever come across this one, I may have to pick it up.

    That's a shame about the language and such though. Meh. Is it too much to ask to have the OCCASIONAL clean secular book??? #Rant

    Anyways, thanks so much for the review! I really appreciate all the effort you put into letting us know about all the content. It's so helpful! <3

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. OH GOOD. I'm so glad my review doesn't scare you away! Sometimes I think my thoroughness comes on a bit too strong, but if it were me debating on a new book I've never heard of before, I'd definitely wanna know the content as well! YES. Please read it for yourself! I don't know what it is, but I got tired of the dystopian/first person novels a long time ago. They kinda just sound the same to me now (not that I wouldn't give them a try if another came along though!). :] If you get the chance to read this, I'd love to know what you think! The story itself was definitely a page-turner!

      Thanks, girlie! :D *hugs*

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To each is given a bag of tools,
A shapeless mass, and a book of rules,
And each must make, ere life is flown,
A stumbling block or a stepping stone.
-Anonymous-