Release date: April 28th 2015
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Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier.Neither is free.Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself. But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.
You know when there's so much hype surrounding a book that you're not entirely sure about it when everyone says, "believe the hype"? Well, if it comes to An Ember In The Ashes, BELIEVE THE HYPE.
Seriously. This book was so utterly amazing and wonderful, and THANK GOODNESS THIS IS NOT A STANDALONE ANYMORE because I don't think I can continue with life if we didn't get to read the rest of Elias and Laia's story.
So let's get started with the proper review.
So first, the characters. You CANNOT tell me that AEITA does not have some of the most complex, three-dimensional characters ever.. Elias was so AMAZING. I loved that he didn't agree with the Empire's rule. I loved that he grappled with the terrible decisions he made, I loved that he chose well in the end. Elias' empathy and courage and angst just got to me. His friendship with Helene was also incredible and he was an amazing, well-rounded character.
If I loved anyone better than Elias, it would be Laia. She almost drowns in her insecurities and guilt, but she doesn't let fear pull her down, despite how many times she tell herself that she is not brave. Her determined devotion to her brother even trump's Katniss' loyalty to Prim. Everything she goes through, she puts up without complaint because she needs to save her brother. Laia is incredible, and she doesn't even see it. She is now by far my favourite female protagonist ever.
The plot is just one huge roller-coaster, the kind of plot that glues you to the pages and bind you to the story. I love Sabaa Tahir's writing. From the very first line, she caught my attention and kept it. I've been having this problem with books I've read lately, where it takes about three or four chapters for me to actually get into the book. Reading this was so exhilarating and many scenes often had me doing this, literally:
|Because screaming out loud over a book is not normal, right?|
I also loved the world-building, which was very much like Victoria Aveyard's Red Queen, sort of high fantasy based on history with a mixture of dystopia. Everything was so lush and vividly described, and I loved being immersed in the world of Ancient Rome mixed with magic and violence.
In short, An Ember In The Ashes was a thrilling, beautiful read that certainly lived up to it's hype. Fans of Red Queen, The Hunger Games and Legend will adore this. If you're having second thoughts about buying this book, banish them, AND GO READ THIS.