Tuesday, September 27, 2016

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir -- OPTIONAL

Tahir, Sabaa An Ember in the Ashes. Razorbill Books (Penguin), 2015. $19.95.

Mature Content: R; Violence: R; Language: R (100+ swears; no 'f')

When everyone in Laia's family is either captured or killed by soldiers, she goes undercover as a slave in a nearby military compound in order to exact revenge and rescue her imprisoned brother. It's a dangerous mission, however -- especially once she meets Elias, one of the most skilled soldiers in the facility. Like Laia, Elias is not who he seems, and his secrets have the potential to kill many people -- including Laia.

An Ember in the Ashes has a definite dystopian feel, and would likely appeal to that audience. While it does rely on many genre cliches, the vivid characters; twisting plot; and rich world-building make this one difficult to put down in many spots. For those who prefer the audio versions of books, this one is well-read, with a male and female narrator for the two perspectives.

The violence and sexual content definitely take this over the edge to R-rated -- and move it from ADVISABLE to OPTIONAL as well. Many scenes contain detailed death, often by the tens or even hundreds. One particularly memorable chapter includes such anguish associated with the multiple, in-real-time murders that sensitive readers will have difficulty forgetting it any time soon. Rape and prostitution are mentioned often, and attempted rape occurs in several scenes. That said, mature readers who are not very affected by gore and who love dystopian novels may enjoy this one quite a bit.

HS -- OPTIONAL. Reviewed by Sydney G., Teacher/Librarian

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