Parents' Guide to

An Ember in the Ashes, Book 1

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Gripping romantic fantasy in an alternative universe.

Book Sabaa Tahir Fantasy 2015
An Ember in the Ashes, Book 1 Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 14+

Based on 7 parent reviews

age 16+

for those looking for a dark, compelling fantasy story

sabaa tahir reignited my love for reading with her beautiful storytelling skillss. ember in the ashes (the entire series, at that) is a dark and gruesome story that doesn't shy away from the gruesome and horrible oppression and misdeeds of the martial empire. in a transitional period for the nation, where a new emperor must be chosen, laia and elias become unlikely allies. the world is complex and rich, a mix of war and magic and the mystic. the story, however, isn't for the faint of heart. action is violent and there are mentions and sometimes depictions of abuse, slavery, sexism, and sex assault. for those who can stomach this, this is sure to become a favorite.

This title has:

Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
2 people found this helpful.
age 13+

Know your kid

I read the book to see if it was okay to include in my classroom library (sixth-eighth grade). The book connects well other dystopian novels like the Hunger Games and Divergent. If your child likes these books, then he or she will be fine. I really enjoyed the book. There are several mentions of rape and the boys at the military school speak about visiting brothels several times, but it's never depicted. Also, there are several mentions of rape and one character is viciously attacked in an attempted rape. The relationship between the girls and boys hints at a sexual relationship, but it's not depicted. The adventure is worth it! I wouldn't have a problem giving it to my mature 8th graders, but I wouldn't give it to 6th or 7th graders. The swearing is not extreme.

This title has:

Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
2 people found this helpful.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (7):
Kids say (23):

Despite some derivative aspects and a slow-going start, An Ember in the Ashes has a compelling story line and fascinating, well-rounded supporting characters. (Elias' best friend and classmate, Helene, who's not-so-secretly in love with him, is particularly wonderful.) But it's true that author Sabaa Tahir's novel is bound to remind readers of The Hunger Games (a series of trials with only one winner; one person can fan the flames of uprising), Red Rising (an oppressed minority secretly plots to overthrow their oppressors), and aspects of Divergent (strict hierarchy, multiple tests to prove you're brave and worthy).

Readers who prefer fantasies with a heavy dose of romance will cheer at all the longing looks and tender feelings described in the story, but they may be confused by the love "square" involving Helene, Elias, Laia, and Keenan, her handsome "handler" in the underground. Given who the main characters are, it's no secret who ends up together, but it's rare for an author to expand a love triangle to include a fourth potentially viable love interest. The novel is a treatise on the importance of standing up to oppression and the difference that individuals can make when they work together toward a better future. Unanswered questions leave readers want more, which they'll find in Book 2: A Torch Against the Night.

Book Details

  • Author: Sabaa Tahir
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Friendship
  • Book type: Fiction
  • Publisher: Razorbill
  • Publication date: April 28, 2015
  • Publisher's recommended age(s): 14 - 18
  • Number of pages: 464
  • Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
  • Last updated: June 5, 2022

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