Hi! So over winter break, I finished reading An Ember in the Ashes and it was pretty good. I’d give it 4/5 stars. I didn’t keep track of what was happening while I read, and since it’s a considerably large book, I’m just going to sum up what happened and my thoughts.
The Emperor dies and Elias, along with Helen, Zac and Marcus are chosen for the trials. This part made no sense, because the Emperor had no male heir- which is why the trials happened. But Helene is a female- there is no logic for why she was chosen. Zac and Marcus get a start on the trials through cheating and assistance from the Commandant.
Laia gives up her freedom to become a slave. She enters Blackcliff as the Commandant’s personal slave. She meets Cook and Izzy, she spies- and then wait for it- she learns that Darin (her brother) is not in one of Serra’s prisons, but in Kauf.
Essentially, that is the only thing of any interest that happens. The trials and the fear of Laia being found as a spy are the only factors which propell the book forward. Along the way, Elias and Laia meet and fall in love and the book ends with Laia basically burning Blackcliff to the ground and blackmailing Elias into helping her free her brother.
But going back to the actual book review. I said this earlier but Sabaa Tahir writes really well. I love her descriptions and she has a really good idea. However, I really, really, really hate Laia and Elias. Individually, their character arcs are really interesting, but once their stories get intertwined I kind of lost interest because it’s less I-need-to-win-the-Trials and I-need-to-save-my-brother and more I-really-like-Elias/Laia.
The ending reverts back to being more individual-goal oriented, but there’s this drag about 3/4 into the book which just feels really odd.