It's been awhile since I've done a teen book review. Thought I'd better do one for this book since it is AMAZING (oops, I spoiled the review for you).
An Ember in the Ashes
My rating: ★★★★★
Publisher: April 28, 2015
Date of publication: Razorbill
Age: Grades 9 and up
Themes: loyalty, agency, prophecy, courage, enslavement, relationships
Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. It is in this brutal world that Laia ekes out a living with her grandparents and older brother—that is, until, Laia's brother is arrested for treason. 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.
World-building: superbly mesmerizing.
Characters: utterly amazing.
Storyline: unique and gripping.
Everything about this book: downright awesome.
I mean, honestly, it's getting to the point where I'm insulted when people say they don't like it. That's when you know I have it bad for this novel. I couldn't stop thinking about it when I was done; I wanted to reread it immediately. Thank goodness there's more to the series, just so I can see more from this author.
Okay, okay, I'll go about it a bit more professionally: Tahir's debut novel expertly combines an Ancient-Rome-inspired setting with a unique storyline involving the deepest heartbreaks and hardest challenges. The reader can't help but be gripped by it because it's just so extreme in its emotion. It is brutal—casual mentions of rape, torture, and cruelty are rampant, with a few more detailed scenes of some heartbreaking violence. But all of this really underlies the deeper desperation of the characters, making their development that much more poignant.
It's told in alternating points of view, between Laia and Elias. Both have their share of action and heartbreak, and there is a budding romance between the two. Which, (this may be my only—small—complaint) is a bit difficult since they each have other romantic interests (a love square?). But since those romantic scenes are so sparse, it really didn't detract from the story. Overall, honestly, I want you to read this. It's amazing.
Find it at your library or on Amazon
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