An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Under the austere rule of the Martial Empire, no one is safe. Laia is a scholar girl who lives out a quiet existence with her family in the back streets of the empire. However, when Laia’s brother, Darin, defies Martial law, the consequences are far more severe than either of them could have ever imagined.
In an attempt to save her brother, Laia joins a resistance force and sneaks into the empire’s top military academy, Blackcliff. There she is forced to serve the Commandant of the academy who is known for her cruel nature and abuse of slaves.
One day while being scolded by the Commandant, Laia meets, Elias, a mask in training and most importantly, her sworn enemy. But is Elias really who she thinks he is? Will he help her or turn her in to the Commandant? Will Laia be able to escape the Commandant alive and find her brother?
An Ember in the Ashes is a thrilling tale that illustrates what happens when people are pushed to their limits in a world where there are nothing but limits and harsh consequences when caught red-handed.
“Life is made up of so many moments that mean nothing. Then, one day, a single moment comes along to define every second that comes after,” (page 20).
“There are two kinds of guilt. The kind that’s a burden and the kind that gives you purpose. Let your guilt be your fuel. Let it remind you of who you want to be. Draw a line in your mind. Never cross it again. You have a soul. It’s damaged but it’s there. Don’t let them take it from you.”
“Fear is only your enemy if you allow it to be.”
“There are two kinds of guilt: the kind that drowns you until you’re useless, and the kind that fires your soul to purpose.”
“In the night, your loneliness crushes you, as if the sky itself has swooped down to smother you in its cold arms.”
“You’ll never forget them, not even after years. But one day, you’ll go a whole minute without feeling the pain. Then an hour. A day. That’s all you can ask for, really.’ His voice drops. ‘You’ll heal, I promise.”
I read this book towards the end of my summer vacation and I sincerely enjoyed the escapism it presented me. I haven’t read a YA novel in awhile, but after hearing raving reviews for this particular book I figured I would give it a whirl.
It took me awhile to actually pick up the book and read, but after I did I was hooked. The storyline, though not quite unique, is engaging and the plot starts in media res (which I always appreciate). Tahir also includes a good amount of impressive imagery to create an environment that is tangible to the reader. In addition, there is a map located inside the book cover for reference.
The book is the perfect length; neither too short nor too long. The characters are predictable, but fairly well-rounded for a YA novel. Something I also appreciated while reading was the lack of a heavy-handed romance. While there is sexual tension between a few of the characters, it is not the focus of the storyline and there are no dreaded love triangles.
Genre-wise, this book is dystopian fiction and is similar to books such as, The Hunger Games, and the Divergent series. There are some parts of the novel that induce a few eye-rolls as it is young adult, but overall the tone of the book is mature and easy to stomach.
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who needs some escapism in his or her life or just wants to read something that is engaging and fun. It is a trilogy, so the third book should be coming out in a year or so. Overall, I enjoyed , An Ember in the Ashes, and hope to read the second book soon.