Wednesday, December 28, 2016

A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

Title: A Torch Against the Night (An Ember in the Ashes #2)
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Released August 30, 2016
Borrowed from Library
Rating: 3/5


**This may contain spoilers for the first book**

Elias and Laia are running for their lives. After the events of the Fourth Trial, Martial soldiers hunt the two fugitives as they flee the city of Serra and undertake a perilous journey through the heart of the Empire.

Laia is determined to break into Kauf—the Empire’s most secure and dangerous prison—to save her brother, who is the key to the Scholars’ survival. And Elias is determined to help Laia succeed, even if it means giving up his last chance at freedom.

But dark forces, human and otherworldly, work against Laia and Elias. The pair must fight every step of the way to outsmart their enemies: the bloodthirsty Emperor Marcus, the merciless Commandant, the sadistic Warden of Kauf, and, most heartbreaking of all, Helene—Elias’s former friend and the Empire’s newest Blood Shrike.

Bound to Marcus’s will, Helene faces a torturous mission of her own—one that might destroy her: find the traitor Elias Veturius and the Scholar slave who helped him escape…and kill them both (Summary from Goodreads).


***This review contains spoilers***

Let me start off by saying I never expect sequels to be as good as the first book.  This, unfortunately, was no exception.  In fact, it was a lot more disappointing than I expected.

The biggest disappointment was Laia.  In my review for An Ember in the Ashes, I actually didn't mind Laia being a little meek and whatnot.  It made her realistic.  But in this book, she was downright annoying and, frankly, stupid.  She is literally in love with whatever guy is in front of her at the time.  It's not even an exaggeration.  As soon as Elias is separated from Laia and Keenan, she suddenly LOVES Keenan again and even sleeps with him!! And gives him her armlet that her mother literally told her to never give to anyone!! Ever!! WTF.  I understand that Keenan was trying to manipulate her, but c'mon. How stupid can you be?

I also felt Laia was rather manipulative.  I think that the author was trying to make her a "stronger" character by having her give people orders, but when she yelled like a banshee at the tribe leader to take in those Scholar slaves, I'm like ??? What gives you the right to tell the tribe leader what to do??  Her character is enough to make me not want to read the next book.

As for Elias I've always liked his character.  He is probably one of the more consistent characters in the series.  His character development actually makes sense.  From An Ember in the Ashes (AEitA), we knew he was a selfless character because he feels immense guilt at anyone that is hurt by his hand or his evil mother's hand.  He continues to be selfless and suffers to save Laia's brother, but I still can't understand his love for Laia.  Their dialogue has no chemistry whatsoever.  His relationship with Helene, on the other hand, was my favorite in An Ember in the Ashes.  I like the friends-to-lovers type of relationships.  I really thought they would be endgame, but I doubt it now.  I would rather have no romance at all than have Elias and Laia end up together.  Relationship drama is annoying as hell when we have characters like Laia.  The only love triangle I actually liked was Tessa/Will/Jem from The Infernal Devices.  Nothing comes close.

Also, I wish The Waiting Place plotline didn't exist.  It was boring, and I cared little for Shaeva.  It reminded me too much of the character from The Raven Boys (Alan, I think?).  And ya'll know how much I hated that series.  I think I get annoyed with stories related to spirits in general.  The fact that Elias is now in charge (I forgot the title) of The Waiting Place deters me from the next book.

We are also introduced to Helene's POV, which I surprisingly enjoyed.  I like that Helene is a more pragmatic character who occasionally gets conflicted by her feels for Elias.  Akiva Harper is a new character who obviously takes a liking to Helene as the novel progresses.  I thought he was cool and mysterious.  I wouldn't have minded Helene x Akiva, except that this new character is Elias's half-brother.  Now it's weird.

I know the majority of this review is basically a rant, but I did manage to read this in about four days, which tells me that I was still interested enough in the story itself.  Perhaps it dragged at times, but I found it exciting enough during the second half of the book.  Hence, three stars.  I'm probably not going to continue this series.  All the signs are pointing to continued disappointment.

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