I don't know if I've heard a lot of negative comments about this book, so I feel like all the positive hype is what killed this book for me.

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, today it is An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir.

The book follows the story of Laia and Elias. Laia is a Scholar (those conquered by the Martials? I actually cannot remember what they were called but we're going to stick with Martials). After her grandparents are killed and her brother was arrested for treason, she decides she must save him. She ends up working for the Resistance, a rebel group fighting against the Empire and becomes a slave for the Commandant, one of the highest and cruelest officials under the Emperor. Elias is the bastard-born son of the Commandant and was abandoned by his mother in the tribes. He grew up knowing compassion and empathy. After being brought to the elite school for fighters, he is forced to act like the soldier he has trained to be, regardless of how it makes him feel.

I really honestly think that my biggest problem with this book is the hype. The story is decent enough, but I think because every person and their dog has read it and seemingly loved it, I was expecting too much.

I liked Laia's character - I figured she would be your typical strong, feisty female lead and I was pretty good on that assumption. She wasn't perfect but she was definitely stronger than anyone else would be in that situation. Even still, she had her moments of weakness, doubt if the mission would work, feelings for others around her. I guess what I am trying to say is that she was a great balance of strength and weakness. She wasn't cold-hearted.

I liked Elias well enough. There were a couple times when I thought he was a little whiny. I mean, yes, he is being forced to fight and do these horrible things but there were people, like Laia, who had it way worse off than being the Commandant's son. I don't know. I mean he had moments where I really liked him but there were others where I was bored with him.

I think another issue I had with this book was the pacing. The book is divided into three parts, but the first two are basically just backstory and a brief conclusion. The middle section takes up most of the book and I felt like that is where things dragged a little. The way I understood the synopsis, at least from other people, was that Elias was the Emporer/in charge from the beginning, and Laia was his slave. But that's not really how it went. We don't get the new Emporer until the end of the book. So I guess in my head, I was messed up with the storyline and I just kept waiting for the Emporer to be named already.

The romance was kind of flat for me. It was kind of a love square? I guess. There are two male and two female love interests, but they don't really make a square? I don't know. But for me, the main couple was obvious so it didn't really feel like a love triangle or whatever you want to call it. I did like how the romance didn't take over the whole book. It was interspersed throughout the story but it wasn't so pronounced that the characters forgot their initial goals.

I know that the ending of this book killed some people, way back when it was just supposed to be a standalone novel. But there is a sequel so have no fear. Personally, I was okay with how things ended. But then again, maybe I wasn't invested enough in the story to care all that much.

Overall, this was an original story and a decent read, not one of my favourites, but I liked it enough that I'll probably pick up book two.