An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

An Ember in the Ashes 

By Sabaa Tahir 


     Age Range: 14 & up 
·         Grade Level: 9-12
·         Paperback: 464 Pages
·         Published: April 2015

The Story 

Told in alternate perspectives, the story of An Ember in the Ashes follows two characters namede Laia and Elias. These characters live in a harsh society  where a group called the masks rule. Laia's family is a supporter of the resistance, and Elias is a mask himself. 

One night while Laia is at home with her grandparents and her brother, the masks break into her home. The masks brutally kill her grandparents & place her brother under arrest. Laia is able to get away, but the only people she can turn to for help is the resistance leaders who were responsible for her parent's death. In order to save her brother, Laia works with the resistance and goes undercover as a slave in Empire's greatest military academy. There she meets Elias. 

Elias is a mask, but he would give anything to run away and give it all up. On the day of his graduation to become a mask, it is announced that trails will be held to find the new emperor of the empire. Elias and his graduating class are the only contestants in this trail. In order to find freedom, Elias must compete in the trails to become emperor, but if he fails, he will die. Laia and Elias soon realize that the are each others only hope to becoming free & to getting what they want. 


With such an overwhelming buzz, I was drawn to this book.  I found the story  to be very action packed and suspenseful. It starts out with Laia's house being invaded and it follows the characters all the way up to the end of the trials. It will leave readers on the edge of their seat.  With the trails, and the idea that Elias has to fight his classmates to the death,  it reminded me of a very grown up hunger games. I think it is key to mention that it is very grown up. With the setting, it naturally has a great deal of violence.  One scene that left me particularity uncomfortable was a scene where Laia is branded as a slave with a knife, and in another scene where Laia is nearly rapped. There were also some  disturbing scenes as Elias tries to overcome the trials as well.  This is just my take on it. Please note that not everyone might feel this way, but I do feel like it is important to note this for reader's advisory.  I feel like this is a great fantasy to recommend to older teens and young 20 somethings, but I would not hand this book to a tween without a great deal of caution.  Overall, I did enjoy this book very much. It took about 100 pages for the story to completely set up, but after those 100 pages I was hooked. I will be on the lookout & hope that this book has a sequel. 

Have you read this book yet? What did you think of it? 

- Pamela

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