Oh my goodness, I can’t believe it took my so long to read this book and post a review. Life has been crazy busy with the end of the school year coming, applying for new jobs, and, of course, NHL Playoff season. Go Blackhawks!! But, I finally got around to finishing An Ember in the Ashes, so here are my thoughts.
An Ember in the Ashes
by Sabaa Tahir
I have been excited about Sabaa Tahir’s, An Ember in the Ashes for months!! This book was action packed from the word go. I started it while I was sitting inside a Quizno’s eating lunch. I got halfway through the third chapter, and had to stop to take a breath for two reasons: 1) I had forgotten where I was, and 2) I had to remind myself that I was not sitting in Laia’s (the main character) living room watching her grandmother’s throat be sliced open.
The chapters flip flop back and forth between Laia’s and Elias’s point of view, which I really enjoyed.
Laia is a Scholar and Elias is a Martial, more specifically, a Mask. Laia loves her family. Her Nan and Pop and her brother, Darin. When Darin is captured by the Empire and imprisoned, Laia does whatever she can to find him and free him, including making deals with the Resistance and making herself a slave to the Commandant. The Commandant is in charge of the Empire’s school for the most skilled and cunning warriors, the Masks. It is here that she finds who she is and exactly how strong she is capable of being.
Elias has never felt as though he belonged. He is constantly longing to be free of the place that has trained him to be a killer. It is only now that the The Trials are taking place that his strength, courage, loyalty, and cunning are being tested that he discovers who he truly and who his soul lies with.
Laia begins as a small, scared girl who only wants to live up to what her mother was. The Resistance had nicknamed her mother the Lioness because of how fierce she was. Laia spends much of the time working to be as fierce, but there always seems to be something that comes up that causes her to doubt who she can be and just how brave she is. When Darin is captured Laia devotes everything to getting him out. Each of her experiences as a slave allow her to grow as a person and test her limits, so that in the end she has developed into a very different, much braver person.
Elias’s character is a little different. He thinks he knows what he wants at the beginning of the story, and that is to escape the Empire. He is sick of being a Mask, sick of killing and tormenting innocent people. But he is told something that turns his world upside down, something that causes him to question everything he knows. At the end of the story, Elias still wants to escape, but there is much more at stake and much more that he learns about himself along the way that really shows his beautiful character growth.
Favorite Quotes and Final Thoughts
I don’t always have favorite quotes from a book because usually I’m too caught up in the story and what is going on between the characters, but Elias said this and I burst out laughing so hard that I had to make a note to remember it and share it with you guys. Elias says this when he is trying to figure out what his best friend, Helene is thinking after he finds out how she feels about him.
“Is our friendship ruined? If I don’t love her back, will she hate me? How am I supposed to get her on my side for the Trials if I can’t give her what she wants? So many bleeding, stupid questions. Do girls think like this all the time? No wonder they’re so confusing.”
And all I could think as a female reader was yes.
Sabaa Tahir’s story was everything I thought it would be. I forgot reality when I read it, which is really the best part about reading. There were definitely some pulse-pounding chapters and times that I forgot to breathe. I loved it.