An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Published by Razorbill on April 28, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
“I will tell you the same thing I tell every slave. The resistance has tried to penetrate this school countless times. I have discovered it every time. If you are working with the Resistance, if you contact them, if you think of contacting them, I will know and I will destroy you.”
Unless you’ve been living under a very large rock, I’m sure you’ve heard of this book. Before it was even published production companies were locking down rights for the movie. That’s right movie. And when I was out looking for a photo of this cover, I stumbled across an interview from Sabaa Tahir herself and she was saying that they already have most of the script done. What. (Interview here. Be warned, she talks about the sequel)
If you know me, you know that this isn’t the best news ever. I mean it’s just I barely got to enjoy this book before the movie people got their hands on it. And I loved this book so much that I don’t want them to ruin this. Because it is so, so rare that movies keep the feeling of a book when it does transition from book to movie. As Tahir said, the book has such a dark feeling and they need to be sure to maintain that feeling in the movie. I do see this book and movie becoming a huge hit. The book already has gotten so big. I just hope that they keep it true to the book.
Okay, enough about the movie let me get to the book review!
This. Book. Was. Awesome.
One of the downsides I had while reading it was that I was reading it at work (yes, my new job has turned out to be all kinds of awesome) I found myself so stuck in the Scholar, Martial, Empire, Blackcliff world that I was afraid of my manager. Like afraid that I would be punished like I was a slave if I didn’t do something right. So I had to stop reading at work. But I picked up Cinder (Winter comes out in TWO WEEKS) and then I finished this book last night a midnight. Accidentally.
Really the reason I ended up finishing it was my roommate walked in our dorm and I wanted, no needed, to look productive (instead of what I was really doing which was watching Netflix) and so I picked up Ember. I had already promised a friend if she finished Rose Society I would read 100 pages of Ember. Mind you, I was already like 67% of the way through the book (according to my progress tracker on Goodreads) so I was pretty darn close to the end. Then what was supposed to be just a little bit of the book ended up being the rest. I have a math test today and I couldn’t really afford knocking out 140 pages of a book but Ember got insanely good very fast.
I haven’t found myself talking out loud while reading a book in a long time. The last book I read was Clockwork Princess and that book made me cry. Now, here I was laying in my dorm shouting at the characters and grinning like an idiot. Thank God my roommate was gone with friends because I’m sure she would’ve thought I was a lunatic.
At midnight I finally slammed the book closed and just let it sink in. The last half of the book was action and excitement and just, I was running on fumes. I was exhausted, my eyes were growing heavy but I couldn’t, wouldn’t, but the book down. It was such a good feeling to be so into a book that I put aside my own biological, survival, needs to finish.
Two of the best things that Tahir did with this book, was world building and character development.
The character development in this book was great. Unlike some books, her characters slowly went through this development over the course of the book. Laia was the one who developed the most. And she was so headstrong during the book and she made herself do all of this stuff in the book for her brother, but it went from her being scared and doubting and talking herself down from it to her being brave and saying that yes, she could do it.
Something you don’t get with an e-book (I think) is the amazing map of the world and the Blackcliff academy on the inside of the hardback book. Tahir built this world with all of these details and she made you feel like you were really in this world. Like I mentioned earlier, I couldn’t quite leave the world when I was working. It’s also been a long time since a book has made me feel this way.
Tahir created this really cool idea of these soldiers (basically) that are called Masks and they wear, yep you guessed it, masks that conceals their faces and emotions. What’s super cool about these masks is they bond to the soldiers face and it is like they have these faces of metal that are completely devoid of emotion. And because of all their training, these Masks are loyal to the Empire and many have very little emotions like non-Masks would.
Speaking of Masks, Elias. Elias is the other main character whose fate Laia’s is intertwined with, as told in the description. And Elias is so great. I love him.
Elias is the exception to the rule. Though he seems loyal to the death of the Empire, he actually isn’t. He wants to desert and he wants to do the right thing. Masks are trained to be killers, to fight, and to take care of criminals and whatever else they are assigned to do. Elias doesn’t want any part of this and I just love him for it. While other Masks have no guilt over deaths, Elias does.
And, boy, do I want him and Laia to get together. So bad.
One of the things my friend said when she finished this book about a month before me was you feel like you are reading two stories at once. For a while, you don’t know when or if these stories are going to converge. But it wasn’t quite like I pictured it from what she was saying. She made it seem like it would be hard to switch back and forth (dual first person POVs) but it wasn’t. I think what helped was that Tahir wrote this book in present tense so it felt like the action was happening as you read it. Which, personally, I think added to the experience of the book.
I just can’t wait until the next book comes out and so the wait from now until April 26 is going to be a long one.