The story is told from two points of view. Laia, a lowly Scholar, has allowed herself to be sold as a slave to work for the resistance, who have promised to free her brother who has been imprisoned.
Elias has spent most of his life training to be a Mask, one of the elite soldiers of the Martial Empire who keep the Scholars subservient and docile. He has graduated, but has been having second thoughts about the cruelty he will be required to dispense. He's been planning for a long time to escape (even though escape will surely cost him his life), but at the last minute he's visited by an Augur (the immortals who are in charge) and convinced that he must fulfill his destiny, and this is the only way he will be happy.
Laia and Elias meet up, and even though neither one trusts each other, they eventually work together (and apart) and their actions have far-reaching consequences for the entire Empire.
I'm torn about An Ember in the Ashes. I really had a hard time getting through it. But I wonder if I didn't get through it because my life was so busy, or was my life so busy because I was avoiding reading this book. It kind of felt like the latter. I pushed through at the end, and I did find that part to be filled with tension and excitement.
Another reason might be because this book seemed so similar to some other recent reads. I recognized elements of The Queen of the Tearling and Red Queen, both books that I enjoyed, but maybe I'm tired of these types of stories.
The writing was done well. There's a bit of romance, sort of a love "square" but it didn't take over the story. The evil bad people are loathsome. And, although we did end up at an ending, there's sure to be more to this story.
I can definitely recommend An Ember in the Ashes, even if I had some problems. I think the story has great appeal to teens who enjoyed the other books I've mentioned.
Published by Razorbill, April 28, 2015
eARC obtained from NetGalley
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