An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Published April 28, 2015
So I have heard fantastic things about this book and it has been in my TBR pile for some time. Therefore when I heard that this was the March book of the month for my book club, I was excited to pick it up. Unfortunately, I was a little disappointed overall. A lot of the people in my book club really liked it but I just didn’t really get into it. I felt that it was very slow in the beginning and I was expecting more interactions between Elias and Laia; yet there was literally two or three interactions between them until probably the last quarter of the book. Then suddenly, they had developed feelings for each other to the point that Elias was willing to sacrifice himself for Laia. It just seemed so unrealistic.
I’m also not a huge fan of the two main characters – Elias and Laia. Even though Laia was depicted as a free woman previously and had “a straight back” and other characteristics that seemed to separate herself from other slaves, I still found her timid and weak. People considered her brave yet she was only doing what she was doing because of her guilt for her brother. And Elias – I thought he was a complicated boy. I liked his premise – trying to become free from becoming a Mask and trying to help people rather than slaughter and rape them. However, I didn’t really like the execution of his character. He kept going back and forth about his feelings for his best friend, Helene, and he was attracted to Laia without actually knowing her. He wanted to escape yet didn’t do it because he was convinced otherwise by the psychic men (the Augurs). I just didn’t like how he seemed so uncertain about things and remained uncertain until the end of the book.
The romance between the two of them seemed somewhat forced to me. Since there was little to no interaction between the two of them, I didn’t really understand how any budding romance can be formed. Actually the only relationship that seemed natural was between Elias and Helene because they’ve known each other most of their lives and trust each other with their lives. That kind of relationship is something I can actually back. Then there was that relationship between Keenan and Laia which also seemed incredibly forced. He hated her at first then the second time they meet, he starts liking her. It literally made zero sense to me.
The only reason why I’m interested in reading the second book because I want to see how Laia and Elias’ relationship will grow now that they are officially going on a road trip. And I’m also interested in the magical/paranormal aspect of the book. That was also something that bothered me – there was little to no mention about anything magical in the book until the last quarter when suddenly, there were jinn and magical abilities. I wish that was something that was introduced gradually rather than suddenly thrust into your face.
Overall, not really sure what the hype is for this book but I’m really hoping that the second will be a lot better. Plus I’m really hoping that Helene will have her own POV – I think that will be something really interesting.