An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Published: April 28, 2015
Laia is a teenage Scholar girl living with her grandparents and brother in Serra, under the rule of the unforgiving Martial Empire. One night, the Masks (an elite Martial fighting group) raids the house killing her grandparents and taking her brother to prison, claiming he has committed treason. Laia manages to flee and meets the Resistance, who put her in the house of the Commandant, the leader of the Masks, as a slave and spy. Elias is about to graduate as a Mask from Blackcliffe Academy, but is planning his escape from that life. The book alternates between Laia and Elias's viewpoints. Will Laia be able to get her brother out of prison? Will Elias ever escape the Martial military? To find out, read this awesome book. Highly recommended for ages 14+, 5 stars.
I adored this book! I literally could not stop reading it, and it's hard to believe that this is the author's first book. The author is great at world-building and you can feel yourself totally immersed in the characters and setting. It definitely lives up to the tremendous hype it has gotten so far. The description made it sound like the Martials are Roman, and the Scholars sound Greek or Egyptian to me. I really enjoyed the writing, and even the story was fairly complex, I was able to follow along pretty easily. The violence in the book is pretty graphic, especially in the beginning,so that's why I settled on ages fourteen plus. I can't wait to see what happen next in the series - apparently it is billed as a stand-alone book, but she definitely left it wide open for a sequel and I know many people will be disappointed if she does not!