Tag Archives: conflict

Book Review: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Published 4nd June 2015 by Harper Voyager.

23569524Goodreads Synopsis: What if you were the spark that could ignite a revolution?
For years Laia has lived in fear. Fear of the Empire, fear of the Martials, fear of truly living at all. Born as a Scholar, she’s never had much of a choice.
For Elias it’s the opposite. He has seen too much on his path to becoming a Mask, one of the Empire’s elite soldiers. With the Masks’ help the Empire has conquered a continent and enslaved thousands, all in the name of power.
When Laia’s brother is taken she must force herself to help the Resistance, the only people who have a chance of saving him. She must spy on the Commandant, ruthless overseer of Blackcliff Academy. Blackcliff is the training ground for Masks and the very place that Elias is planning to escape. If he succeeds, he will be named deserter. If found, the punishment will be death.
But once Laia and Elias meet, they will find that their destinies are intertwined and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.
In the ashes of a broken world one person can make a difference. One voice in the dark can be heard. The price of freedom is always high and this time that price might demand everything, even life itself.

My Review: I first heard about this at the Fire Sermon event with HarperVoyager a few months ago, and instantly the story appealed to me. Over the last year I’ve been getting into contemporary more and more, which has meant I’ve been reading less fantasy. After The Fire Sermon, this seemed the perfect read to rekindle (pun 100% intended) my love for the genre. And, it was! An Ember in the Ashes exceeded my expectations by miles. It was a mesmerising début, from a very talented new writer.

The story is told in switching perspectives; Laia, a scholar, and Elias, a ‘mask’ soldier. Laia is thrown into a world of resistance against the Empire and espionage in order to save her brother, whilst Elias is a promising soldier of Blackcliff, expected to go through horrifying things to compete to be Emperor, despite how much he detests the system. The two are about to meet in the place they are both trapped, and the path they take is set to change everything.

adored the characters. Laia was a refreshingly unique protagonist. In the beginning, she is weak, afraid and does not involve herself in anything illegal; that’s all her brother, until he’s captured. She develops a lot over the course of the plot; Sabaa Tahir has written her character so well. I didn’t really mind the vague love triangle, too!

It’s really hard to express my feelings about An Ember in the Ashes. It was just so enjoyable – I was sucked into the world of the Empire straight away; swept away with the characters on their terrifying stories. The story ended on such a huge cliffhanger, and I actually thought it was a standalone novel… Thankfully a sequel is due and I’m eagerly anticipating reading more about Laia and Elias.

Overall, I very highly recommend An Ember in the Ashes. If you’re a fan of fantasy, Sabaa Tahir’s book is the perfect next read – and, in fact, it’s the perfect book to get into the fantasy genre with. Undoubtedly one of the most stunning debut novels I have read.

My Rating:five

I received a copy of An Ember in the Ashes from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

Book Review: My Brother’s Secret by Dan Smith

Published May 2014 by Chicken House books.

20554182Goodreads Synopsis: Germany, 1941. 12-year-old Karl Engel is looking forward to joining the Hitler Youth, like all boys his age.

But when his father is killed, his rebellious older brother Stefan shows him things that leave his faith in the Führer shaken. Who is the real enemy? What is the meaning of the flower sewn inside his brother’s jacket? Karl soon finds out, as he becomes involved in a dangerous rebellion.

My Review: I really got into Historical YA Fiction last year, but this year I haven’t really gotten the chance to read that much! That’s a big reason why I was really excited to read My Brother’s Secret. I really wasn’t let down; it was a really enjoyable book, with lots of twists, and packed with emotion.

My Brother’s Secret reminded me a lot of The Book Thief: if you’re a fan of Markus Zuzak I definitely recommend this. It’s got similar themes of friendship, and rebellion, and is set in World War Two Germany. The story follows Karl Friedmann, a boy who is passionate about the Hitler Youth and serving his country. But after his father is killed in action, his thoughts about and pride in his country start to change, and he begins to discover that Germany has its rebels, and that he might be becoming one of them.

Right from the beginning I was really stuck into the story. I loved how the setting was described. Dan Smith’s writing is really likeable. I could almost feel like I was there, in Karl’s underground bomb shelter, riding across the fields with Karl’s best friend. The writing is really captivating and brought a lot of imagery.

The characters were all well developed. Karl’s personality changes a lot over the course of the story and I found it really interesting, to see him transition from being so passionate about Germany and the Fuhrer to committing rebellious acts. One character I would have liked to hear more about, though, definitely would be Karl’s brother. The story is centered around Karl’s discovery of his sibling’s rebel Edelweiss Pirates group, but for some reason I don’t think I saw… enough of him? The plot is mainly centered around Karl discovering the ‘other side’ of his village. I think I would’ve liked to hear how his brother joined the Edelweiss Pirates (The really interesting, real life group of rebels).

Overall, My Brother’s Secret was a really well written novel! I really loved Dan Smith’s writing. The plot was pretty unpredictable, and the last few chapters were so action-packed and shocking, I couldn’t put the book down. Karl was a really great main protagonist. I really loved how much he developed over the course of the plot. My Brother’s Secret really captures the impacts on German people in WW2. I’ll definitely be looking out for Dan Smith”s other title, My Friend the Enemy, now!

My Rating:

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I received a copy of My Brother’s Secret from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.