Ruthless Magic

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 01 Jun 2018

Member Reviews

Ruthless Magic was an absolutely engrossing read! I had picked it up after a series of lackluster and not as engaging books, and was instantly sucked in to the story thanks to Megan Crewe's compelling writing. The story follows Finn and Rocio as they navigate an unforgiving world, each trying to not only survive, but to win. Ultimately, I was satisfied with the ending (despite wanting more!) because the characters faced actual moral and physical consequences. This wasn't another book where everything turns out just fine for our protagonists just because they are the protagonists, which is something that YA desperately needs more of. 

Overall, Megan Crewe brought a fresh take on a familiar genre to the table and I was here for it.
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Ruthless Magic was my first title by Megan Crewe, and unfortunately I wasn't able to get into it. The writing didn't pull me in or make me feel like I was a part of the story, and I found myself getting distracted by outside things as I was trying to read. I tried to read it a couple of times with no success, so sadly I have to mark it into the DNF pile. I do hope to try another of Megan's titles in the future and hope to fall into them better than I did with this one.
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Ruthless Magic is a fast paced, dystopian read. I honestly hadn't been sure what to expect going in, and I've heard a lot of people compare it to the Hunger Games. (I felt this too, and I still can't put my finger on exactly why it feels that way?!) The world building was what really drew me in and had it not been for that I'm not sure I would have enjoyed it quite as much, as the changing POV's often threw me off par.

My thanks to NetGalley and Another World Press for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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I read this for a blog tour, and am so glad I found it! Such a fun read and I loved the magic and characters in this story!
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What an amazing book! Magic is in the world and only the selected few are allowed to use it. For the others they must fight for it. 
      After graduating highschool those with strong talents are supposed to go on to college where they can develop their magic. Everyone else has two choices; allow their magic to be taken or enter a contest that can be deadly. 
       A book about friendship and finding the strength inside.
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Ruthless Magic was a really nice surprise for me – a pretty little gem I found on Netgalley. I started the book with no expectations and ended up liking it a lot. The story has a dystopian feel to it but I lean more towards it being YA Fantasy. Magic is now a fact of the world since mages have come out. They now live among humans with their own separate culture, following the laws set by the Confederation. The authority and strict ruling of the Confederation is what gives the story that dystopian feel.

Finn and Rocío have both chosen to undertake the brutal Mage exam and by “brutal”, I mean the exam is violent, cruel, absolutely ruthless. This part has a distinct Hunger Games feel to it that wasn’t bad. I liked the main characters, Finn and Rocío, a lot and the story was written in such a way that I was able to connect with both of them—to sympathize with their plights, understand their motives and reasoning behind their choices.

Rocío was my favorite. You just couldn’t help but like the girl and feel for her. She tried to do the right thing under pressure, to be stronger and break out of the mold the Confederation pushed her in. Finn was an intriguing character too, showing a pleasant face to the world when he had his own worries and issues to deal with. They were both complex, complicated characters who added a lot of value to the story.

The other characters played their role well and the story idea was a very good one which kept me in suspense for what would happen next. However, I did have a question about the human faction. There were hints and some backstory given about the humans’ reactions over the mages coming out ‘party’ though this was a tiny part of the story. The main part of the story focused on the Mages’ exam. But I hope to see some interactions with the human faction in the next books.

The romance was slow and meaningful, fitting in perfectly with the story. The best part for me, was the author’s writing. This is my first book by Megan Crewe and her writing brought the story to life. I could visualize the magical spells and enchantments. The flow of words was beautiful and a pleasure to read. I can’t wait to read the prequel, Magic Unmasked, and the next book in this series.
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Meh, this book was fine. It actually felt like 2 books mashed together. The first part is the two main characters waiting and learning if they will get into the magical college to continue learning or have their magic snuffed out. Both decide to declare for the Exam to try and keep/earn their way into College. Then the next part is the actual Exam. So there is all sorts of introspection and learning about the world in the first part and then the second part is the actual Exam which gets all Hunger Games-esque and the participants realize how terrible their society pretty much is. I sort of liked this book, but had a hard time believing that the Confederation could keep how bad the Exam is and what it is actually recruiting for under wraps for so long. It just doesn’t make sense to me. And of course the two main characters are going to fight “the man” in their own ways now that they made it out of the exam. *Eye roll*
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Thank you to NetGalley for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Ruthless Magic by Megan Crewe sets off with a spellbinding start that slowly peters out well before the end. The North American Confederation of Mages selects only the most promising sixteen-year-old students to enter their academy--or so they say. Rocío Lopez, a mage from a low-standing, new-magic family has done everything right to be selected, only for the Confederation to reject her. Now, Rocío's only choice is to have her magic burned out of her or take the secretive and deadly Mages' Exam, the same exam where her brother lost his life. Finn Lockwood is in a similar predicament. Having been chosen unfairly by the Confederation because of his prominent, old-magic family despite his meager abilities, Finn declares for the Exam to prove his worth and support his friend, Prisha, a skilled new-magic mage who, like Rocío, is forced to declare for the Exam or lose her magic.

From the beginning, the novel explores the issue of privilege, namely how old-magic mages are trusted by the government over new-magic mages because the newer ones could potentially turn against everything the Confederation stands for... Whatever that is. However, it very quickly turns into a heavy-handed allegory for racism--Finn is white, and Rocío and Prisha are Latinx and Indian respectively--but it's never examined with that particular lens in mind. Just this old-magic vs. new-magic debate. Even when other characters are brought in of varying races/backgrounds (one character, for instance, is legally blind and relies on magic to "see"), it still feels like the author is still trying to discuss discrimination without actually going there.

Really, the only character I super liked through this was Rocío. Finn was okay, but his and Rocío's insta-love quickly bored me. Prisha started off awesome, gay-rep and all, but then she was just a name on a page. I'm not saying she was just Finn's token gay/Indian best friend, because she wasn't; there was something of a character going on with her. The book just very quickly became the Finn and Rocío's Love Story show, intermixed with "deadly thing about to kill the group" events, and Prisha was just sort of there. Being moody, mostly.

The magic system itself is loose, for lack of a better term. Some characters use Latin to focus their magic, some use song lyrics, some use their native language, and somehow that combined with their aptitude makes magic happen. Or not. It's a little unclear, and each characters' magic and what/how they can cast seems to rely more on whatever the plot needs from it at the time than any clear rules or standards as to what magic can be or do.

Also, I really don't understand why Finn swears by/exclaims to the Greek pantheon? And invokes Hades instead of hell? Does he just personally worship the Greek gods even in modern day? Is this an old-magic thing? Do other people in the world do it? (Signs point to no.) And if he does or it is an old-magic thing, then shouldn't they be using Greek instead of Latin to cast magic? This was a character quirk that quickly got on my nerves because it was so random but never explained.

As for the Exam itself, there's a lot to unpack here, and I don't intend to cover everything. Without spoiling anything, I will say that the examiners do give a reason aka conspiracy why the Exam is so brutal. However, no explanation is given to any of the characters ever about what each part of the test is meant to reveal about the examinees nor is their performance on why they passed or failed discussed at length at all. And the majority of the book is having to read through brutal test after brutal test, so I expected some sort of payoff once I got to the end about why we all just went through that. Besides the Super Secret Reason, I got nothing, so by the time it was done, I didn't feel anything about what I'd just read except an overwhelming sense of fatigue.

Don't get me wrong; Ruthless Magic isn't horribly written by any means--Crewe's style is just fine--but what's on the page didn't keep me captivated for long. The cycle of tests combined with some of the characters' repetitive discussions about the Confederation's intentions and their doubts about the test/the government/the Exam, etc. wore on a tad too long with very little reward at the end of the day. I don't even care what became of any of the other characters besides Rocío, and I know I was supposed to.

However, it was a good attempt, hence why I rounded my rating up to three stars, and I can see many people enjoying this story, especially those starved for diverse representation. The world-building, characters, plot, and concepts in Ruthless Magic just weren't enough to make me feel like something new was brought to the table; I've already read many a book just like it and enjoyed the impact it had on me much more.
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An awesome YA fantasy novel that touches many topics at once race, class, sexuality, and government issues. Which helps to understand a society. Fun characters and dialogue, great use of discription to encase the reader in the pages.
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I absolutely, thoroughly enjoyed this book and it's incredible story, Probably up there with one of my favourites. It was kind of like The Hunger Games but for people with magical abilities. I don't think I put this book down and I read it within hours!

I am a fiend for multiple Points of View so having this story told alternatively between the two main characters, Finn Lockwood and Rocío Lopez, was brilliant. It was so easy switching between them and there was never any chance you'd lose whose chapter it was. They're both sixteen and are waiting to hear from the North American Confederation of Mages as to whether they will continue their magical training or go through a dampening of their skills. If not chosen the only way left to prove themselves is to declare to join the brutal Mages’ Exam.

From there we see many challenges and trials that they have to go through, losing people along the way and learning about some secrets. There is fast-paced action, brutal losses and more than enough excitement to keep you wanting the next instalment of the stories.
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Ruthless Magic is Megan Crewe’s latest release and is a blend of Harry Potter and The Hunger Games, introducing readers to a magical world of deception, action and high stakes competition where not everyone will make it out alive. 

Though they live in the same society, mages Finn Lockwood and Rocío Lopez couldn’t be more different. Finn comes from a family of privilege, whose ties to the mages governing body, North American Confederation of Mages, runs deep. Too bad Finn doesn’t seem to have inherited any of his family’s power or ability. Rocío on the other hand is a supremely gifted mage, but her family’s lowly stature mean she is often overlooked and ostracised. Wanting to prove their worth above all measure, Finn and Rocío’s greatest hope is in securing a coveted position with the Confederation to study and train in magic. Yet when Rocío is rejected and Finn’s selection is only due to his family’s position, both teens decide to declare for the Exam, a mysterious test offering them a second chance. Neither teen is prepared for the secrets and dangers that come with the Exam but as they become unlikely allies in a series of deadly trials, Finn and Rocío quickly discover that nothing is what it seems and their examiners may be testing them for a future neither of them is prepared to enter into….. 

Heading into Ruthless Magic I wasn’t sure what it expect. The only novel I had read by Megan Crewe in the past was her debut novel upon its release and I wasn’t really a fan. That being said, I was willing to give Ruthless Magic a go…..and I was delightfully surprised by how much I enjoyed the novel. If ever there was an example of how far an author had come with their writing style and abilities over a number of years, it was Ruthless Magic. 

Unfolding through the back and forth perspectives of both Finn and Rocío, Ruthless Magic allows readers a well-rounded look at the society they live in. Finn and Rocío really are from the very opposite ends of the spectre so we as the readers are immersed in both sides of this magical world—if only for a brief time. With the majority of the novel taking place whilst the novices are within the Exam, readers will only have a small glimpse into the overall world within Ruthless Magic before finding them drawn into a very Hunger Games-esq competition where competitors try to outsmart and outlast each other through a series of trials that increase in danger with each round.

Both main characters Finn and Rocío are quite likable and develop well throughout the story as their circumstances change. During their time in the Exam they both come to reassess their thoughts and beliefs about the world they live in; especially Finn who having come from wealth has been very sheltered and isn’t aware of what is lacking in his society. Discovering some of the double standards and hypocrisy leave the teens determined to be the voice of change against an unjust system. 

There’s a lot of potential within Ruthless Magic. Civil unrest is a real possibility as our main characters vow to fight a corrupt system. How they plan to tackle this remains to be seen, but I’m keen to see what Megan Crewe has planned for the series and her world next.
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I'm reviewing this book so late because I had to stop reading at some point. The synopsis of this book is what originally pulled me in. I loved Hunger Games and having it compared to it was good enough for me. However I didn't finish this book like I thought and wanted to.

I had a problem with Finn. All he wanted to do was prove himself, which is fine in itself, but he was doing it for others, not himself. He was trying to please others and ultimately did it for them. Not himself.

The world building in this could have been so much better.
I give it 3 stars because it didn't work for me but it could for you.
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I found this to be an engaging, and quick read. I liked the dynamics among fledgling and skilled magicians with different abilities and the magic system. I could have used a bit more explanation of the how the magic worked. I liked the shifting POV's. 

I've never read anything Crewe has written before, but I think her storytelling and her world-building are awesome. She has created interesting characters with real emotions and real struggles. There's some great action in here, some brutal magical challenges, and the pace was breakneck.  I constantly wanted to pick up the book again whenever I paused reading because the story was so intense.
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I don’t really have much to say one way or the other. Someone else’s review said it was a blend of Hunger Games and the Magicians. I think I’d add The Maze Runner in there t
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Thank you to the author, Megan Crewe, the publisher Another World Press and NetGalley for giving me an ARC in exchange for my candid review.

Wow!   I really loved this book and these characters!   It is a YA book, but certainly engrossing and readable for all ages.   If I had to type it, it would be a cross between Harry Potter and Hunger Games with a lttle bit of Marie Lu's Legend series thrown in.   But, having said that, this series is really its own story.   It is a world in which magic exists and people are born with varying levels of magic---all the way from expert to none.   And every student that has magic powers wants to get invited to the magic University---because if you are not---they will remove all magic ability from you.   But , if you are not selected for University, you can appeal the decision and elect togo through 4 days of trials in order to qualify as a champion.

This story is about the 4 days of trials for a group of students.   The story is imaginative, and refreshing, and exciting.   I really enjoyed the characters and the story of this world.   There is only one bad thing about this book----NOW I am going to have to WAIT for the next chapter in the series. 

Please read it ----you will love it.
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When I heard that the upcoming YA fantasy Ruthless Magic, by Megan Crewe was a cross between The Hunger Games and Harry Potter I was pretty darn excited to get an advanced reader's copy. I have to admit that there were some fascinating aspects of this new magical YA story, although I didn't feel like the connection between Suzanne Collin's page-turning thriller and J.K. Rowling's classic series entirely did Ruthless Magic any great lip service. 

Let me explain. 

The Skullduggery Effect

Ten years ago, a series came out called Skullduggery Pleasant. In our local bookstore, the marketing copy read "Pick up the new Harry Potter today!" I was initially intrigued, but what I would later discover was a fantastic series in its own rite just... didn't "do it" for me, because the truth was that Skullduggery Pleasant is not Harry Potter. It's true that book marketing teams frequently use "comp titles" to help place their new books in the market, sometimes I think that choosing the wrong title to compare a fledgling book to can ruin what might otherwise be a great reading experience. I call this "The Skullduggery Effect." 

Okay, now back to Ruthless Magic. 

A New Magical World 

I liked it. I did. The beginning set up a unique, magical world set in New York City. I thought that it was interesting to read about the hierarchy of magicians and the need for the main characters to fight for a spot at the prestigious magical school. Along with some beautiful prose and tantalizing intrigue in the first few chapters, the characters were likeable and felt genuinely "real." This is a well-written book on many accounts. 

But Where's the Tension?

While the narrative does create a similar feeling of competition between young individuals like in The Hunger Games, the narrative urgency that had been building for such a good, long time at the start of Ruthless Magic is broken when the characters just decide to work together. (You could argue that some characters work together in The Hunger Games too--especially in later instalments of the series--but there was also other intrigue building that tempered this release of tension between previously "warring" characters. As in, my all-time-favourite will-Katniss-and-Peeta-get-together already storyline). While there was some light romance building, the white-hot tension wasn't quite there. Or maybe, it just didn't feel the same... 

Is Ruthless Magic a victim of The Skullduggery Effect? I'm not entirely sure. It's a well-written narrative with some solid moments that were fun to read, but do yourself a favour and ignore the comp titles for a more enjoyable reading experience.
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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?

* * * * *

I love it when I stumble across a new young adult fantasy!  And this one has it all.  There are a variety of characters from different backgrounds all seeking to pass a test so that they can keep their magic.   We really get to know some of these characters as the point of view does jump between a few of the main ones.  

RUTHLESS MAGIC is really a coming of age story.  Everyone is old enough that they had applied to one of the magical colleges and were refused.   Now they have to dig deep into themselves and make some unlikely allies to be able to survive.  Along the way, they uncover some information that will cause them to  wonder if they really want to succeed.

I really think that any reader who enjoyed Harry Potter would enjoy stepping into this new world of Ms. Crewe.  I devoured this book in one day and am now rather impatiently waiting for the next in the series.

***I received  this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All opinions are my own and not influenced by the publisher or author.
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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for sending me a digital ARC of "Ruthless Magic" by Megan Crewe. The plot and pace of the book is very interesting but the wordiness made it difficult to engage with the story. I did like the main character but yet again the length of the sentences made it difficult to fully connect with the main character. This book reads more like a debut and I was surprised by the number of books this author has published. The plot and pacing will work for many though.
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I read this book here and there over the course of 3 months. Each time I opened the book, I was immediately sucked back into the story. I think it says a lot that I didn’t feel the need to reread previous pages. The story definitely keeps you engaged and interested the whole time. The descriptions of Ruthless Magic being like the Hunger Games with magic is pretty accurate. Basically, after high school, mages are either “chosen” for college or dulled – meaning they get their magic mostly removed by the magical government. Their magic is dulled to just enough power to perform some small task slightly better than non-mages. For example, they might leave you with magic that is especially good at sewing so you all you are fit for is to be a really good tailor. Along those lines.

But the government gives teens one last option. To fight in a ruthless competition. The winner gets to be named Champion, the rest of the competitors are either killed during the competition or burned out. Their magic is completely removed.

The story focuses on a group of teens who have all decided to join the competition. They each come from different classes in this society. My favorite character was Rocio because she is so badass at magic but also has a super kind heart.

The challenges in the competition were really fast-paced and interesting, but the book takes place entirely on the competition so after a while, I got a little tired of it. I loved the more traditional magic system used of how the mages created enchantments, spells, and castings that went on in the book. However, there were elements of the books that were not developed enough. Unlike in the Hunger Games, we see the teens realize the hypocrisy and corruption of the government but nothing really happens. I felt like the dystopian type government was an underdeveloped element of the story that needed more attention.

Another thing that irritated me a bit was the instalove between two characters. Most of the romance was sweet though, not too dramatic like some instalove romances can be.

Overall, I thought it was an enjoyable read so I give it 3.5 stars. It looks like this is a first in a series (Conspiracy of Magic #1) but I think you could enjoy this as a light standalone fantasy too. As of now, I’m not sure if I will continue with the series.

***Thank you to Netgalley and Another World Press for giving me a digital galley of the book in exchange for my honest review.***
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Let me start by saying that if you compare a book with The Hunger Games, I will start reading it with dread in my heart. I love The Hunger Games, I really do, and therefore, I will judge the quality of the book without any pity. If you dare compare yourself, then your book better make me lose track of time and dream vividly at night.

And you know what - this one did. 

Trust me, I wouldn't have reviewed this book positively if it didn't reach my expectations. I loved the world created in this book. I loved the concept (à la Hunger Games, obviously) of magic testing through the "exam", or, The Magic Games as I started calling them in my head. There's just enough difference between the two books that this read as a fresh story. The addition of magic was wonderful, and I didn't force myself to suspend any disbelief. 

There are a lot of characters, but nothing feels overwhelming. You'll get attached to the two protagonists and to the other students as you follow them through the book. They're relatable and they aren't boring. I have to admit I was heavily rooting for Rocío throughout the book, but I liked Finn for his determination and his easygoing nature. Another five stars in this category for character development!

Extra points for a slow-build romance, and for avoiding the possible trope of the heart-wrenching love triangle!

I'd like to thank Another World Press, as well as Netgalley, for the free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I can't wait for book 2! Until then, I will pick up the novella prequel, Magic Unmasked.
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