Original Title: An Ember in the Ashes
Year Published: 2015
Published by: Harper Voyager
Number of Pages: 450
First Sentence: “My big brother reaches home in the dark hours before dawn, when even ghosts take their rest.“
Goodreads Rating: 5/5
What if you were the spark that could ignite a revolution?
For years Laia has lived in fear. Fear of the Empire, fear of the Martials, fear of truly living at all. Born as a Scholar, she’s never had much of a choice.
For Elias it’s the opposite. He has seen too much on his path to becoming a Mask, one of the Empire’s elite soldiers. With the Masks’ help the Empire has conquered a continent and enslaved thousands, all in the name of power.
When Laia’s brother is taken she must force herself to help the Resistance, the only people who have a chance of saving him. She must spy on the Commandant, ruthless overseer of Blackcliff Academy. Blackcliff is the training ground for Masks and the very place that Elias is planning to escape. If he succeeds, he will be named deserter. If found, the punishment will be death.
But once Laia and Elias meet, they will find that their destinies are intertwined and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.
In the ashes of a broken world, one person can make a difference. One voice in the dark can be heard. The price of freedom is always high and this time that price might demand everything, even life itself.
This was such a brilliant book. When books are hyped up by the bookish world I get a little apprehensive, because just because a book is hyped doesn’t mean it’s actually any good. And I’m almost terrified of disliking books that pretty much everybody else seems to love. So I was really glad when I read this and loved it from the first page. The story was absolutely riveting and I loved every second of it.
Laia was a spectacular character and I absolutely adored her. She is scared and lost at the beginning of the book and still scared and lost at the end of the book. She doesn’t randomly turn into a badass soldier halfway through, instead she is the same girl we meet during the first chapter. But she shows that you can be frightened and still get things done. Don’t let fear come in your way.
Elias was awesome. I love how Tahir didn’t make him into a ruthless killer, and instead turned him into a soldier with morales. Everyone wanted him to be ruthless but he still had a good heart and questioned what he was asked to do. If he had been a ruthless killer who never thought of the people he hurt until he met Laia, he would have been a horrible person (something that a lot of male characters in ya-books are if you think about it). He has a heart and cares about the people around him despite having been trained since a kid not to. Absolutely adored him.
Thinking about it in hindsight there aren’t much happening in the book. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a brilliant read and I absolutely loved it, but it is more of a setup for what is to come. That doesn’t mean that nothing happens, it’s just that there’s more character and world building in this book than in the second one (which I, of course, read immediately after this book). It sounds like I’ve lost my mind, but it is honestly a brilliant book.
Do I recommend it?
Yes, I do.
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