Monday, March 23, 2015
YA REVIEW: AN EMBER IN THE ASHES
An Ember In The Ashes is an incredible book. I could generally compare it to The Hunger Games by Susan Collins, but comparing these two books would be a little like comparing apples to oranges. They have very different flavors and characteristics, but yes, they are both of the same genre.
Like The Hunger Games, Sabaa Tahir's novel takes place in a fictional world where an oppressed girl, Laia, and her people, are trying to achieve freedom. However, unlike The Hunger Games, it features two main characters: Laia and Elias. Though Laia is a "scholar," one of the oppressed (similar to "District 12"), and Elias is a "Martial", one of the oppressors (similar to "The Capital"), neither are actually free to live how they want. This dynamic is perfectly portrayed by Tahir.
The first chapter might not draw you in right away, but only because the features of the world take some time to make sense. Once you understand this world, however, An Ember in the Ashes is hard to put down. I do not think that the story takes place in either a future or a past world. It seems to carry both historical, current and futuristic ideas and concepts. The Hunger Games takes place in the future, after the world has seemingly fallen apart and been put back together. An Ember in the Ashes takes place in a world where separate cultures have fought and been conquered to create a giant empire. Such an idea could be a creative way of picturing the future: could we all eventually become one worldly society? Or it could be a way of looking at history: is this a spin on real and mythological wars in human history? Either way, I believe there could be many comparisons and allegories in this novel.
An Ember in the Ashes is very rich and complex. It includes so many different sides that you can never really favor one outcome, or be bored. This book appears to end in what could be a series or a single production, but it definitely left me wanting to read more. I won't continue to describe the outcome though, because I am scared of spoiling it. I must say that Sabaa Tahir has put a lot of time into research for this novel, perfecting it's portrayal of war. Her efforts are evident. The story is realistic and full of depth. It is the kind of book you could read more than once. In fact, as someone who almost never, if at all, reads books multiple times, I am considering rereading this novel.
There weren't really any aspects of An Ember in the Ashes that I thought were lacking. I hope this book becomes popular and Sabaa Tahir continues to write more novels of this caliber. It definitely deserves lots of attention. It has the potential to be widely popular and it will not let down its readers. It is extremely enjoyable and leaves you wanting more.
Johanna de Jong is a senior at Bishop Macdonell.