An Ember in the Ashes is the first installment in the An Ember in the Ashes series. Please note that this discussion contains spoilers! If you haven’t already, check out my review on this book, which is spoiler-free.
I gave this book a 4/5 stars. As I said in my review, I loved this book – it had aspects that were unique, characters that were well-developed, and engaging story lines.
I want to first say that the book title is amazing. I love the imagery of an ember in the ashes, and that’s exactly what some of our protagonists metaphorically were.
I loved Laia – I immediately clicked with her. I know that some readers didn’t like her that much, but I really enjoyed reading her story and hearing her train of thought. The way she was a coward at the beginning of the book was very realistic, and in a way I thought that she was brave for running away. She knew there wasn’t anything she could have done in that moment, so she escaped. However, she did nothing but try to rescue her brother since that.
Laia endured a lot when she went undercover at Blackcliff. She got branded, was beat on a regular basis, and was almost raped by Marcus. I have so much respect for her tenacity and strong will. She knew that she was there for a greater purpose, and she rarely let that weigh down on herself.
The concept of the Trials isn’t very unique, but it was still incredibly entertaining and had me on the edge of my seat. I love these life or death “tests” that a lot of young adult books have – they’re always fun to read, even when bad things happen. Oh my goodness speaking of which, I was devastated when they had to kill their own friends. That whole situation was so awful, especially since the consequences were so real. There was no way to bring the friends back to life afterwards and there was no “surprise! They were actually holograms!” No, their lifelong friends just… Died. On another note, why is it that it’s always the newly engaged or newly married man in books like this that dies?? Is that really necessary? 🙁
Although the Trials wasn’t very unique, there were other parts of the book were unique. For instance, Elias’s mom was the Commandant. A woman who’s the head leader isn’t something that’s very commonly seen in real life and books. This brings up the question of how she became the Commandant in the first place though. How is it that one of the very few women in Blackcliff became Commandant? On top of that, why is it that they only accepted one woman a year anyways? What’s the point of that?
Back to the subject of Elias’s mom, it made me sad seeing a mom who obviously didn’t care about her own son. There has to be more to this story, right? I hope we learn more about this background in the next book. I know we already got some background on this already, but I just feel like there’s something missing… Am I the only one who feels like this? Either way, the lack of a proper mother-son relationship made me really sad and made me want to coddle Elias since his own mom obviously never did.
I don’t usually like prophecies in books, but I thought the concept of the Augurs was well-written and intriguing. Even though their presence created some predictability, it was comforting knowing that worse things wouldn’t happen to our protagonists.
I didn’t like the love square at all – I thought a lot it was unrealistic and didn’t make sense. For instance, I wasn’t entirely sure why Helene was just now starting to show her feelings for Elias. It’s a bit strange, especially given that they basically grew up with each other.
I’m personally a fan of Laia and Elias as a couple. Since they’re our two main protagonists, I keep thinking it only makes sense. Therefore, I wasn’t the biggest fan of Keenan or Helene. Keenan is great as a “handler” and as someone who Laia can talk to, but I thought he was pretty forgettable on the whole. Then, there’s Helene.
Am I the only one who wasn’t very fond of Helene…? I get that she’s a strong woman and can stand up to the guys and all, but I was frustrated when she would get so easily distracted by Elias during really important times.
Anyways, I have a prediction for how the love square is going to end up later in the series. I predict that the final pairings are going to be Laia and Elias, Keenan and Izzi, and Helene and Marcus. Hear me out. I think Laia and Elias are going to end up together because, well, they’re going to be spending all of their time together in the next book. I think Keenan and Izzi are going to end up together because they’ll meet since Izzi got on the ship that Laia was supposed to get on. And yes, I think Helene and Marcus are going to get together. Towards the end of the book after Zak dies, I saw hints towards Marcus actually being a good person. Furthermore, the Augurs predicted that Helene would be Marcus’s. I have a feeling that Marcus is actually going to end up being a good person, even though he was awful in most of the first book (which sounds familiar from another popular dystopia series…). Who knows though, I could be completely off-base.
Let me know your thoughts on this book! What were some of your favorite parts? What do you want to be answered in the next book? Do you have any predictions for what’s going to happen next in the series?