Genre: Fantasy, Romance
Type: Series (An Ember in the Ashes #1)
Point of view: First person & Dual
Publishing Date: April 28, 2015
“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.”
When I give a book a 5-star rating it means it had everything I was hoping for. I rate my books based on how much they met my expectations, not how ‘good’ they are. I do this because I think good/bad ratings highly depend on what you want from a book and are therefore subjective. In my reviews, I explain why a book did or didn’t meet my expectations and try to specify which people might like or dislike it. You can find more information about my rating scale here.
I loved the dual perspective. From the start I liked Elias’ view more than Laia’s view. He just seemed more interesting. I even found Laia quite annoying in the beginning. I can’t really explain, but I think it kinda was her attitude. Later she changed a lot and got tougher. Let’s just say she grew on me. Both characters actually went trough a lot of character development. But they weren’t perfect, which I like because it’s realistic. The switching of perspective made it really exciting. It was like every chapter had a little cliffhanger. I think the author used this very well.
The world was a little confusing at first, all the terms from the society were just thrown at you. They were referring to people and I had to go back and look what that person was/did. This passed pretty fast though and I think the system of the world and the academy were really interesting. The fact that it was so dark and mysterious made me keep picking up the book. The author really created an atmosphere.
Something else that made the book good was interesting side characters, from the scary commandant to the sweet broken kitchen girl, I think they were more than tools to interact with the main characters. Sometimes I feel like side characters can feel like they really aren’t given their own personality and story, like they were just thrown in there because of something in the plot line. With this book I felt like there were so many side characters with an interesting story, a personality. I wanted to know more, dive in the past of the side characters. I even wanted to know more about the villain, who was a great character I think.
Even though the plot had some elements which are more common in the fantasy/dystopian books, I think this book still made them it’s own. It was very fast paced and had lots of surprises. It kept me guessing on where the story was going. Sometimes the romance part of it was a little cheesy but I still really liked it. I think there was a nice balance of action and some romance. It also felt to me as though it made sense, how it developed. It says a lot if I liked the romance. BUT I didn’t like the fact that it had a bit of a love triangle going on, I don’t like those. It was saved though because I loved Elias so much as a character.
“There are two kinds of guilt. The kind that’s a burden and the kind that gives you purpose. Let your guilt be your fuel. Let it remind you of who you want to be. Draw a line in your mind. Never cross it again.”