Thursday, March 9, 2017

Review: An Ember in the Ashes (#1) by Sabaa Tahir

Title: An Ember in the Ashes (#1)
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Published by: Razorbill
Released: 2015
Source: Library

Summary: The world can be a brutal place. Death is behind every door.
Laia lives the brutality first hand on the night Masks break in to her home and her brother is taken. Now alone, she'll do anything to get her last remaining family back. She sets out to find the Resistance, sure that they will help her after all her family has sacrificed for the cause. Laia ends up becoming a slave to a very mean woman, with the hopes of gathering information.
Elias is a Mask, the most brutal, well-trained soldier in the Empire, but what he longs for most is to be free. He didn't choose this type of life, he wants out. Elias must do what he can to find peace within himself.
One day, Elias and Laia's paths will cross, their destinies are intertwined.
My Thoughts: I'm going to be the unpopular oddball and say this book wasn't my favorite read ever. It was good, but it wasn't the attention consuming, lose myself in the world, AWESOME read I'd been expecting. The hype for An Ember in the Ashes has been unreal, at the highest level. Hyped books always make me curious. Am I going to have the same feelings as everyone else? Or will the hype give me unrealistic expectations and then let me down with the actual story? That's the ultimate danger of hype. I'm somewhere in the middle ground with An Ember in the Ashes, I liked the story well enough, but it didn't blow me away.
It was definitely an entertaining read. It kept me interested. The story had a compelling edge to it.
I didn't really like how brutal the world was, just because it felt brutal for brutal's sake. I didn't really enjoy all the violence in it. Some of it just seemed over-the-top. I also wasn't a fan of what I found to be questionable and unnecessary deaths. I had real questions about how a world could be this severe.
I also had a problem with the villain in this book. She was pure evil, a straight sociopath. My favorite villains are the ones where you can sort of mark their journey on how they became what they are. I didn't get much depth from the Commandant, why she did the things she did. I wanted to see the woman before she became the devil.
I had a problem with all the love connections. Too much, too many. They also weren't realistically built. The only one that felt real, was the connection and struggle between Helene and Elias, their relationship had been built on actual time spent together. All the other romantic connections in this book were just strangers. I need build up and believability before I buy into a relationship. So, I wasn't a fan of the random relationships in this book.
My last aggravation was with the ending. I think I would have been even angrier if I was still under the assumption that this was supposed to be a standalone, like most readers were when this first came out. That ending was the biggest cliff-hanger, with no real resolution. Irritating. 
I was reminded, a little, of the Triwizard Tournament from Harry Potter during the Trials Elias had to go through. That was fun.
All in all, I liked this story, but I wasn't blown away by it. The hype ended up disappointing me. I'll definitely check out the sequel, because I do want to see what happens next. I would suggest going into this with no expectations, like any other book, and see what you think of it. It wasn't the worst thing ever, but it wasn't the best either. My review, my opinion.
Beware The Hype.

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