Review: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

★★★½


This was un-put-downable.

Screen Shot 2016-08-31 at 8.03.53 AMI love different fantasy. I can’t stand wizards and dragons anymore for some reason. This was certainly different. The worldbuilding is incredible and immersive; set in a desert, with Roman-esque names, an underground resistance movement, prophecies, immortal Augurs who can hear your thoughts, brutal slavery, interesting cultures, face-sucking silver masks, and a school that puts its students through hell to become master weapons. It’s dark as hell but infused with Laia’s enduring hope, and that’s what made this into the classic it’s being touted at.

There’s great character development, too. I started off not liking Laia very much, but she grew into a pretty great character. I wouldn’t say she’s badass, but she’s strong and smart and not afraid to go through horrendous trials to help those she loves.

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The Commandant, Laia, Helene, Elias, and Marcus. Art by Annalise Jensen.

Elias, on the other hand, is my newest book-boyfriend. Oh, how I love those tortured, honorable, hunky souls. And Helene—damn. I absolutely love her. She was by far the most nuanced character in the book.

I’m definitely a Helene/Elias shipper, though, and didn’t really like the insta-love between Elias and Laia (or Keenan and Laia, tbh). This is one of the reasons I didn’t give it 5 stars; there was a lot of insta-love surrounding Laia—who, conveniently, doesn’t know how drop-dead gorgeous she is (ugh). This basically transformed into a love-rhombus, which is so much worse (in my opinion) than a love triangle.

Curmudgeonly bitching aside, this was an awesome book and I’ve already pre-ordered the sequel. If you’re like me and can’t stand love-triangles/parallelograms/etc, still give this book a chance cuz the lovey-dovey parts are easy to gloss over.

I’m pretty terrible at writing reviews when I really like a book—all I can think was “IT WAS AWESOME, OKAY?!” But just know that the hype IS REAL. This is a great book, and I absolutely can’t wait to see where this series goes.

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