Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Book Review: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

An Ember in the Ashes (An Ember in the Ashes #1) by Sabaa Tahir
Publication Date: April 28, 2015
Genres: YA - Fantasy
Find it On: Goodreads / Amazon / iBooks / B&N / Book Depository
My Rating: 


Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

About the Author:

Sabaa Tahir grew up in California’s Mojave Desert at her family’s 18-room motel. There, she spent her time devouring fantasy novels, raiding her brother’s comic book stash and playing guitar badly. She began writing An Ember in the Ashes while working nights as a newspaper editor. She likes thunderous indie rock, garish socks and all things nerd. Sabaa currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family.

My Review:

I enjoyed this book, but I wasn't like...floored? Was I missing something that gave way to such a hype?

Elias and Laia live in a world where there are two classes of people: Martials and Scholars. Elias is the height of the Martials: a Mask, a trained assassin that keeps the lower classes in line. Like Laia, a penniless commoner who has had nothing since her parents were killed for being Rebellion leaders. While Laia is more or less content to lead her dreary life, things change when her brother is suddenly imprisoned. Meanwhile, Elias' Mask graduation is approaching, and he'd do anything to spend the rest of his life as a weapon.

Maybe chalk this up to the first book, but for such a complex society, there is so little world building. It's briefly discussed that there was a war in which the Scholars were overthrown, but how long ago? How? Give me something to sink my teeth into, please!

The characters are interesting, but not excellent enough for me to be really invested. Elias is a bit of a spoiled rich kid, but you want to root for him when you see how fundamentally he's against the life he was forced into. Laia is kind of an everyman: she doesn't like the status quo, but doesn't choose to challenge it until it plops itself on her doorstep. She's not exceptionally strong or talented, but she gets by in situations that no one should ever be put in.

The villains were bleh. Very one note, and the twists of the morally gray characters were predictable. The most interesting character was probably Elias' best friend Helene. Please please tell me there is more of her in book two!

I definitely found myself rooting for Elias, but not so much that I was cheering him on or hoping for the MCs to get together. The plot was cool. It had some twists and turns. But honestly, I've read much better books with similar stories. In fact, Black Tiger is an indie book I read this year and loved, and I couldn't help but mentally compare this to books like that the whole time.

I went to my local book store to pick up the sequel and they didn't have it. Ah well, I might go try to find it again after tackling some more of my TBR.

EDIT: Oh! And a side note: Was this aggressively trying to be NA instead of YA or was that just me? I understand that sexual assault was a very real danger in their world, but it felt like the word "rape" was just liberally sprinkled everywhere to sound edgy. Not my fave on that one.

1 comment:

  1. Great post Nina! I also nominated you to take part in the Mystery Blogger Award tag let me know if you do take part – I love to see your answers! xx