Spoiler Review: An Ember in the Ashes

At some point during the introduction of the story I got really exited about this book. Why? Because, Tahir has created a very interesting new society. It has war, conquerors and the conquered. It has revolutionaries, soldiers and refugees. It handles very real human issues of division among races and wars attributing superiority and political powers to certain groups. But mostly, I was intrigued by Elias and the masks (cold-hearted Assassins!!!).

My potential awesomeness radar was at a Howler high (Red Rising by Pierce Brown reference, if you don't get this than go read that book, your welcome!) I could literally taste the opportunity for bromance, for superhuman trust that can only brew from years of being in survival mode together. Unfortunately, (and I'm sad to start my review with this) the Mask were no Howlers. They weren't present enough in the story to leave any imprint on the reader. The main Mask who had enough page space to possibly create a spark was Helene and she was a little too disloyal to Elias for me to buy into their relationship.

Speaking of Helene, I didn't like her at all. Her issue was:

  1. a) the fact that she rubbed me the wrong way and 
  2. b) her blind (and somewhat moronic) faith in her society, the school and the Augurs. 
I don't like people who refuse to think for themselves, she doesn't necessarily have to find something wrong, but by just being open and inquisitive like Elias (which is human nature) we can ensure that society never falls to a deep darkness. I feel like her bullheaded focus on keeping faith just didn't sit well with my own beliefs and my expectation of loyalty to friends. Finally, the ending act with her swearing fealty to that son of a twin-killing gun was disgusting and I refuse to fall into the narrative of making her act appear like the ultimate sacrifice; it was a bullshit selfish cowardly act of a woman who refuses to see the truth of her society, who has flourished in its suppression of others and who has only ever wanted to join the ranks of the suppressors.

I might have digressed a bit. Nevertheless, I liked the plot, it was well thought out and executed though not as complex as I wanted it to be; it was fun. The trials were an interesting addition that i wish were larger and with more bulk, I realize this would make this already giant book even larger, but apparently I don't mind.

Laia's plot with Mazen and the Resistance was cute (I kept internally telling her to run!!!), her attempt to save her brother was very noble and the resilience and strength she showed under such duress was commendable. I want to strangle Mazen for her struggles but also am glad for him because her experiences definitely made her stronger and they let her meet our leading man, Elias!

Let's talk about Elias! I love Elias (didn't you know). I really enjoyed reading from his point of view, his indecision and genuine contemplation of his actions were interesting. After all, he is one of them, he is not being surpassed (tortured maybe) but he is not a slave, yet he doesn't like his life and he wants to change it even though those around him try to break him, and try to dissuade him.

There is definitely more I want to know about him, I would appreciate more information on his relationship with his mom (terrible) and grandfather (I really loved this guy) and even his adoptive family. I feel like they all contributed a lot to his personality and knowing more about them would help the readers know him at a more personal level.

Although, I liked the two main characters on their own and lets be honest, I liked them together as well but their relationship did feel very much written in the start or rather in the cover/title. This book made me think of the YA beautiful female lead syndrome and wish that Laia wasn't one of them. But, she is and that's literally why Elias notices her. Hopefully, in future books their relationship can grow to something less superficial.

Since this review has already been a jumble of ideas and emotions, lets change the formatting to a list, which is hopefully going to be more readable and more concise:

Comments:

  1. 1) I don't give a damn about Keenan and I wish he would disappear because I'm really not down for a 3rd wheel and the drama sequence that is sure to come with it.  

  2. 2) As, I stated before, I'm really interested in Elias' grandfather and his legacy. I want to know more about their family and their house and how Elias' actions is going reflect on them and what their stance is. 

  3. 3) Laia's family sounds amazing! I wonder if Laia will join the revolution and maybe surpass her parent's legacy.
Finally, some predictions and conclusions:

  1. 1) The Augurs are the original scholars that figured out the secret of the jinn and started the whole mess. This would be awesome as it would come back to the fact that this group of scholars are responsible for their own peoples torture and I would be really interested to hear the explanation for it. (I hope it's not that they thought the scholars were to weak to fight.) 

  2. 2) I wonder if Elias' father will show up in the future. I am assuming that he must be a good person to make Elias' witchy mom hate him so much. 

-MARI


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