I’m so sad because of this book.
I really, really enjoyed An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir, and was hoping the sequel would live up to it. But it didn’t.
A Torch Against the Night is the worst combination of POVs, bad decision making and love squares (not even triangles). The story follows Laia and Elias on their way to rescue Laia’s brother from a high security prison. This brother is supposed to have the answer to win the revolution and save the working-class people from their terrible living conditions. Meanwhile, Helene (Elias’ ex-best friend) is stuck as second in charge to the Emperor and must decide whether to fight for her friend, her family of the empire.
My heart is being torn apart because I LOVED some parts of this book but HATED others…
- Helene Aquilla. This book introduced Helene’s Point Of View (POV) and I loved her so much. I already liked her from the previous book, but in this one she outshines any other character (she truly was a torch against the night). She is smart, loving and strong, but also makes mistakes and is sometimes overwhelmed by her emotions. She also has an interesting plot revolving around her, because we get to see the Commandant’s and the Emperor’s plans through her eyes, as she puts clues together.
- Middle Eastern Mythology. I liked the magic and magical creatures in the previous book, but this one takes them even further. The world in ATATN is a blend of a dystopian society, a Roman-like Empire and the magic from One Thousand and one Nights. And it all makes sense together and is really fun to read! I liked how the main characters were either fighting soldiers or ifrits, and how some of them could use a bit of magic but couldn’t magically solve all of their problems. (With some ugly exceptions that I won’t mention here because those would be SPOILERS).
- The main plot. There were some parts of the main plot that didn’t make a lot of sense (like insta-love), but in general I liked how everything turned out. It was interesting reading about a revolution from its conception, and getting to see the other side of the coin, the power-hungry rulers and fighters that actually have feelings and a set of values.
- Laia. There’s a term used in manufacturing engineering called ‘Lean Thinking’ (I have a point, I swear…), this means that any part of your work that is not adding any value is a waste and should be eliminated. Well, Laia was the waste here. I think they could kill her in the first page of the book and the outcome wouldn’t change that much. She was useless most of the time and since she and Elias were travelling together for months, there was no use for her POV (but we still got it and it felt redundant. Plus, Elias is far more interesting and cool). I think she was great in the previous book because Elias needed someone or something to give him a little push towards the light side of the force, but now she’s more of a burden and her intentions and decisions seem too selfish in the big revolution that is going on.
- The Love Triangle/Square. This book has four characters in love with someone else inside that group of four. Luckily one person steps out of the mess and we’re back at a simple love triangle. The worst one I’ve seen in ages, by the way. Because my friend Laia is not only a waste of ink on this book, she also can’t help falling in love with two guys that she barely knows. And of course the two guys love her too. And I hate them all, ugh.
- You liked An Ember in the Ashes (if you didn’t like it, don’t bother with this one)
- You like YA fantasy/dystopian books
- You can tolerate love triangles
- You like Middle Eastern stories and myths