I you read like I do, you have a favorite genre or two and read exclusively within it. As a writer, I try to diversify my book consumption, but even so, I constantly find myself veering back toward my old standbys. There’s nothing wrong with this – I find zero shame in reading what I love. But my writing group and I recently issued a challenge to ourselves: since we all write in vastly different genres, we’d assign one book within the genre we write for the others to read. I picked Where’d You Go, Bernadette? because it’s hilarious and heart-breaking and I’m obsessed. My friend picked An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir.
I admit I wasn’t excited to start the dystopian YA. I’d read a few others in the genre that left me cold and disappointed. But by the end of the first chapter, I was hooked. This series has everything you could want from a YA: action, romance, and an addicting pace that keeps you reading long after your bedtime.
Laia, a seventeen-year-old scholar girl, has never rebelled against the tyrannical Empire that rules her impoverished people. Those who do are sentenced to death. But when her older brother is arrested for treason, Laia aligns herself with the scholar rebellion to bring him home. They only ask one thing in return: she must pose as a slave to spy on the empirical military academy’s most feared commandant. Once inside these dangerous walls, Laia meets Elias, the school’s most prestigious student and the commandant’s son. But there is more to Elias than his training; he despises the corruption of the Empire and is trying to escape. When their goals overlap, the two team up in an unlikely duo to defy the iron fist of the Empire and try to stay alive.
So far, there are two published books in this series with – I believe – two more coming out soon. While I can only vouch for the first, if the next few installments are anything like it, fans of this series are in for a thrilling ride.