Friday, 7 August 2015

REVIEW || An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Book Title: An Ember in the Ashes (An Ember in the Ashes #1)
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Publisher: Harper Voyager, 4th June, 2015
Source: Publisher
Format: Uncorrected Proof Copy, 450 pages
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository
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.
I’m going into this review with many mixed thoughts and different opinions, which means it’s always very hard to come to reasonable conclusion and not ramble on a lot or be quite controversial, as I tend to be but as one of my most anticipated reads of the year this book left me with an overwhelming sense of disappointment, because my expectations were very, very high. It certainly delivered on what it promised, brutality, and fantasy which was great in premise and in practice but it wasn’t an epic book, and it wasn’t an epic fantasy for me.

I think the beginning statement to get across about this book is that I love to hate loving it. I have issues with this book, most of which occurred after reading, some which annoyed me whilst reading and as a result my mind is very twisted and confused. Here’s why; when reading I really enjoyed the book, actually, I thought it was great – I didn’t connect to characters at all, but the plot of the book, the writing the pace of it all kept me enthralled. After reading it though, I just kept finding flaws and more flaws and things that bothered me, but I still couldn’t get over the fact that I really, really, liked this book. And I started hating that I loved it when there were so many obvious issues. 

Which leaves me at a stalemate.

First off, contrary to others, I thought the world building in An Ember in the Ashes was fantastic, it gave me just enough to really be able to build the world and give a feel for the whole era itself, whilst not being a huge info-dump. Something that also helped was the fact that I adore the Greco-Roman period and as this seemed to be a replicate, I enjoyed it. I loved the relationships and dynamics between the characters, it was the championing aspect of the book, for me.

It took me at least a third of the book to get used to the writing and the continuous pace, which I can’t say was a bad thing as the pacing was very well done - but I love the ebb and flow of things whereas this book was just a constant drumbeat. Furthermore, the book itself was quite predictable, in my opinion. There was nothing that surprised me, which did take away from the book immensely. I don’t know how to describe the writing itself other than “talkative”, there were short sentences that built the tension but a lot of the time it was just very talky, and I’m not referring to dialogue. Now this wouldn’t be a problem, because I tend to enjoy getting to grips with the characters mind and rummaging about inside, especially when they mental babble, but I didn’t really like the main characters, or connect with them at all, which was a bust.

Now, Laia and Elias are good, solid, characters, particularly for a book like this. Personally, I just didn’t connect with them in anyway, at all – I felt that they were very two-dimensional, and the way that they were presented… it seemed as though they had almost no flaws at all (we all love a flawed character). With Laia, her biggest flaw that is constantly factoring into her own mind babble, is that she’s a coward. That got a bit tiring. As the book was told from the perspective of both main characters, I believe it would have been much more effective if I had connected with them. A lot of the time it did feel like they were talking about everyone and everything else (when they weren’t dwelling on themselves and their motives) – in the end it made for flat characters, that were likable, but not much else.

On the other hand, we are told many a time (though rarely shown, which is indeed a bit of a sore point with me) how brutal and terrifying this world is, and the people that they live under. I thought that this was executed quite well within the writing, the way certain characters walked and talked, you really did get that feeling of brutality, but like I said, it was rarely shown and I’m someone who prefers to experience something rather than just be told about it. Despite this, when there were scenes of a bloody/violent nature, they definitely lived up to their expectancy. 

The plot of the book was well done, although I did think it predictable, it was still woven very well and the ending of the book leaves many exciting options and pathways open for the second novel, which I am eagerly anticipating. In conclusion, I did absolutely love this book, I would re-read it, and I definitely recommend it. I do have reservations about it, but to love something I think you also have to see it flaws, and if you can accept the flaws, then all the better. It took me a while to get this this conclusion, and I’m happy that I have. I look forward to the sequel very much, and hope that Tahir stuns me with her next book.

Rating = 4 Bookish Birds

No comments:

Post a Comment

Hello, lovely readers! I value every single comment I get, and try to reply to every one. But if your comments are mean, vulgar, or have nothing to do with the blog they will not be approved.