An Ember in the Ashes is the tense, violent YA dystopian that will captivate readers in 2015

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An Ember in the Ashes is the tense, violent YA dystopian that will captivate readers in 2015

In a world part Sparta, part 1984,  Laia just wants to free her brother, and Elias just wants to free himself. But the fates have a brutal and deadly game in store for both the slave and the reluctant warrior.  This book is definitely in my top five of 2015 so far.  I had a book hangover for weeks after I read this.  If you liked Marie Lu’s The Young Elites, I think you will enjoy this even more.  The dual narrative allow this book to be enjoyed by both genders, and the interest level extends from high school to adult readers of YA.

 


Goodreads Summary

I WILL TELL YOU THE SAME THING I TELL EVERY SLAVE.

THE RESISTANCE HAS TRIED TO PENETRATE THIS SCHOOL COUNTLESS TIMES. I HAVE DISCOVERED IT EVERY TIME.

IF YOU ARE WORKING WITH THE RESISTANCE, IF YOU CONTACT THEM, IF YOU THINK OF CONTACTING THEM, I WILL KNOW

AND I WILL DESTROY YOU.

Laia is a slave.
Elias is a soldier.
Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.
It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.
But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.
There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

My Thoughts

If I had to describe this book in one word, it would be “intense.” When I finished, my nerves were shot and my shoulders were tight with tension. I cared deeply for Laia and Elias, and they were under constant, paralyzing threat. The seemingly omnipotent antagonist was beyond sinister, and I would be hard pressed to identify a villain to top her in any book I’ve ever read. The oppressive setting is reminiscent of a medieval 1984 — the despair is palpable. It makes it easy for the reader to cheer for the two characters who appear to still have their souls intact, but the wonderful nuances in a lot of the minor characters make it harder to decide about everyone else. The book had an ending that indicates that more books will follow, and some unfinished business means I’m all in for another round with these characters. There are some parts of the book I thought were weak, especially those surrounding mystical forces re-emerging in a world that has destroyed and dismissed them, but that didn’t really bother me while I was reading. Some people thought that Laia was a weak protagonist, but I thought her actions rang true for someone who isn’t a revolutionary by choice or nature but because of necessity.   think it will be a popular book with many of my students and fellow adult YA readers.  The language and situations make this a mature high school read — lots of violence and threatened sexual assaults.

Check it out from our classroom library today because I have poor impulse control, and I know you need to read this!

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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About queenbook

When the final bell rings, I stash those messy piles of essays and analysis assignments in a desk drawer and I head home to a pile of good books. My kids and dog eat too many chicken nuggets and the house could be neater, but as long as I get my daily read, I guess we are doing all right. When I was twelve and fifteen and eighteen and twenty, I believed I needed to get out there and do those things I had just been reading about, which ended in disaster, tears, a tattoo that scares me every time I catch a glimpse of it in the mirror, and the realization that some of us are meant for action, and some of us are meant to critique the pace of action in a book. I read primarily YA fiction as I have a rather hulking classroom library and a hundred high school readers to engage daily. Nothing makes me happier than coming to school and finding an impatient teenager waiting by my door to turn in a book and get another one just like it. I adore a good zombie, a medieval princess, or girl assassin (I would like them all in one book if you are a writer looking for some inspiration). I add historical mystery to my wish list a year in advance, and you should get out of my way when the next Outlander book comes out. I have an embarrassing fondness for rock star books, but only if they don’t get too trashy and embarrass me. My favorite book of all time is The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery. My book boyfriends include Gilbert Blythe, Alonzo Wilder, and Jamie Fraser. They are mine and you can’t have them.

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