An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Category: Young Adult
Laia is a slave.
Elias is a soldier.
Neither is free.
was not expecting to enjoy An Ember in the Ashes so much. I had put off
reading it for a while in favor of other things, but now I wish I had
read it sooner. It contained everything that, for me makes a good
fantasy read. Good world building, interesting characters, a bit of
heartbreak, more than one point of view, danger, and some romance were
all present. Oh and it has maps too!
While this book was not
ground breaking in any way, there are several standard fantasy tropes
that are used. I found it very compelling and the characters and
situations they faced more complex than most YA fantasy. There are lots
of tough choices for the characters to make, and the author doesn't shy
away from having them make what seem to be the wrong ones at times. Or
are they the wrong ones? It made me wonder what I would do in those same
One of the things I really dislike sometimes about
YA fantasy is that a villain is built up as being a really horrible
dreaded person and then they end up falling short of that, mainly so
that the main character can escape their wrath without having to endure
too many horrors. I didn't find that the case with this book. The
Commandant is very nasty to Laia and does some horrible things to her.
There is a constant threat of danger in this book and it kept me reading
and on the edge of my seat.
Another thing I liked about this
book were the duel points of view from opposing sides. I was
anticipating when Laia and Elias would meet, and then later when they
would conspire together, and possibly fall in love. I really liked Laia
and the fact that she was just a normal girl who had to learn how to
become a spy and figure out who she could and couldn't trust. She felt
very real to me. I also really liked Elias and his conflicted feelings.
Both points of view were equally compelling.
I have said for a
long time that I don't care for love triangles in books, but it seems
like the love triangles in several books I've read lately haven't
bothered me. This one would be the same, except I guess it's a love
square in this book. I think if done correctly love triangles (or
squares) are ok. This wasn't the standard love triangle where feelings
are based on silly things like how hot someone is or love at first
sight. This love triangle didn't feel juvenile at all, but very adult.
The mixed feelings of all four characters were believable to me. I did
feel like the one weak link would have been Keenen. We don't really get
to know him as much as the other three characters. It was actually kind
of compelling to try and figure out who would end up with whom, and well
we still don't know for sure.
So this was a surprisingly good read and I'm looking forward to reading the next book.