book review | an ember in the ashes by sabaa tahir

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

My rating: ★★★☆☆

In this book, two worlds collide. On one side, we have Laia–newly made a slave and a secret spy for the resistance movement. On the other side, we have Elias–the golden boy of his academy, competing to become the next emperor. These two cross paths and, together and individually, start to uncover their true selves, what they’re willing to fight for, and just what freedom is.

Recommended if you like:

  • YA romance–and inevitable love triangles/squares
  • Plot lines that keep you guessing
  • Troubled, angsty boy characters or determined, hardworking girl characters


My Spoiler-Free Review

When I first started reading An Ember in the Ashes, there were a few elements I was intrigued by. I hoped they would mold the book into something really interesting. Alas–not so much.

In the end, I liked this, but I didn’t really love it.

My likes

Laia’s character development! She grows a lot throughout the story, and I enjoyed her journey. I can certainly relate to not quite feeling like you can compare to others around you or in your family, so I did feel a connection with her. Her growth was realistic and gradual, too. She wasn’t suddenly some bad ass female protagonist like in other YA books.

The writing. Clear, concise. Not overly flowery, which I prefer. Also, the POV shifts were so nicely done! The chapters were short, so you flip back and forth often, which I find preferable to those long chapters where you’re aching to get back to the other POV. Both Laia and Elias’s POVs were enjoyable to read.

Elias and Helene’s friendship. I adore deep friendships such as theirs. They really have each others’ backs and their friendship is founded on years of trust and shared experiences. I liked the way their friendship played out through the Trials and how it also added a unique tension.

banana-books tumblr.jpg
art by @banana-books

My not so likes

The love square. I could SO do without this. I hate love triangles, and I hate love squares even more. Sometimes they can be written really well, but in this case it just did not work for me. The characters were too flighty, able to switch back and forth between their love interests so easily. So annoying to me! By the end of the book, I didn’t want anyone together because I was so fed up.

The pacing/plot. The book just felt so dragged out. Nothing much really happened until the very end! I did want to continue reading and find out what happened next, but I found myself getting bored. It was easy to put the book down.

The world-building. I mean–it was nonexistent. I could not picture the world at all, and the culture was only described in bits. This created a huge disconnect for me as I tried to immerse myself into the book.


It was certainly more enjoyable than other YA books I’ve picked up this year. But will I continue the series? Eh. I’m not in a rush at all. Though I’m slightly more motivated now that I’ve learned Helene gets some POV chapters in book two.


Have you read An Ember in the Ashes? What did you think of it? Leave your thoughts below!

Until next time,


9 thoughts on “book review | an ember in the ashes by sabaa tahir

  1. The sequel really opens stuff up and you get the darkness cranked up a few notches. I get that the multiple love interests can bother people but I just think that there’s a lot of characters that you follow in the first one and that’s why there’s so much. But that’s much less apparent in book 2 🙂


  2. Oh man I have heard so many mediocre reviews about this series that I don’t ever think I will spend my own dragon coins on these books 😅 it makes me grateful to have people and bloggers whose opinions I trust to be my guinea-pigs 😆


    1. SO TRUE. I am the same way. Though I do find that some bloggers I tend to agree with more than others–you have to find that balance between trusting your gut and making the most of others’ opinions and advice.

      That said–I’d agree. Don’t spend your dragon coins on these books. 😉


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