March 11, 2018
Sabaa Tahir is an excellent storyteller. The concept for the book is executed well and takes you on a journey into a society where death is the common denominator between those that are free and those who are slaves. Tahir shows the dynamics between the conquerors and those who were conquered really well, making it impossible for the reader to be confused about what is going on and why this or that has happened. Overall, she did a good job with An Ember in the Ashes, but there were some things I found fault with.
The world she has created straddles the line between a dystopian earth and a made up world, and I'm not sure if that's a good or bad thing. It certainly makes it hard to determine if this book fits into the fantasy genre or the dystopian genre. This brings me to her world building. Tahir has showed us that there are warring peoples, describing them in detail, and has named places but doesn't really give descriptions. When reading, there are not a lot of details to go off of, so it's is hard to imagine what the town looks like or what the battle school the Masks train in looks like. The same thing can be said for all the other places mentioned in the book. There just aren't enough details to help the reader imagine the places.
Another thing I had trouble grasping was the relationship between Elias and Laia. There was no real chemistry between the two of them like there was between Elias and his best friend, Helena, and Laia and the Resistance fighter, Keenan. They just seem to fall into each other with no type of realistic buildup or foundation. You almost get the sense that the author put the two main characters together just to further the plot which would in turn explain how unbelievable their relationship is.
But, despite all of these things, the story itself was really good and all of you should give it a read. Perhaps in the second book Tahir does a better job in regards to world building and relationship building.
A contrarian at heart. I prefer The Lord of the Rings over Harry Potter and Narnia. I love Country Music and John Hughes movies and am the worst at singing the correct lyrics.