“We all have responsibilities from our circumstances,
even if we didn’t ask for them.”
― Karen Ann Hopkins, Embers
Author: Karen Ann Hopkins
Series: The Wings of War #1
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Published: March 15, 2015
Synopsis From Goodreads:
There are descendants of angels walking among us. Ember is one of them.
Embers is an epic paranormal adventure/romance about a seventeen year old girl who discovers that she’s immune to fire and any other injury when she’s in a horrific car crash that kills her parents. Following a violent episode with her aunt’s boyfriend, Ember flees Ohio to live with an old relative in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. Ember’s exuberance at escaping a bad home life soon turns to trepidation when she learns that she’s a Watcher, a descendant of angels.
While Ember is instructed about her heritage and the powers that go along with it, she strikes up friendships with two teenagers who live in a frightening walled compound in the forest. Inexplicitly drawn to one of the young men in particular, an impossible romance develops. But it’s cut short when Ember discovers that her new friends are fighting on the opposite side of a war that’s been raging between two factions of Watchers for thousands of years. When the compound’s inhabitants threaten the townspeople, Ember takes action, sealing her fate in the ancient battle of good versus evil, and the grayness in between. Ember is up to the challenge, until she realizes that she isn’t only fighting for the lives of the locals and the souls of her new friends. She may be one of the few champions willing to make a stand for all of mankind as the rapture approaches and the end of days begin.
My Rating: ☆☆
Embers is one of those books that has a lot of wasted potential. The premise is great, but the follow-through just isn’t there.
The plot of Embers is interesting enough to hold your attention, but the story starts earlier than it should. For starters, the prologue is entirely unnecessary! By unnecessary, I mean its only purpose is to make you wonder what’s behind the creepy wall in the woods. The writing of the prologue isn’t that amazing either… It’s in third person; the rest of the book is in first person. Also, it is very gorry and almost made me put the book down. Maybe it’s just me, but heads should not come off in the first twenty pages unless the book is a horror story or somebody super important is being murdered, (neither of which is the case here)! The first three chapters are also just a bunch of unnecessary set-up. The story doesn’t start until the main character gets to her aunt’s house, but for some reason we’re given explicit details about how she got there in the form of three extra chapters. That being said, Embers tells a pretty good story once the plot actually kicks off. It isn’t the kind of thing you read for brilliant writing or a message that’ll stick with you, but it makes good mindless entertainment!
The characters are… flat. The main character, Ember, is basically a puppet who does whatever has to be done to move the plot along. There was a lot of potential for her to go through some major development, but it was not fulfilled. I mean… The girl watched her parents burn to death in a fire and discovered that fire couldn’t hurt her in the process. She should be traumatized to the point of needing therapy, but instead she just comes across as a winy teenage girl who is quite honestly super annoying. Her love interest is slightly more developed. He’s a demon who doesn’t want to be a demon and has actually considered suicide to escape his demonicness, but again some great potential is wasted. The romance was also major instalove, and the love triangle that was introduced about two-thirds into the book was obviously just there for the sake of having a love triangle. Seriously… Who is going to believe that there is actually a possibility that the descendent of an angel is going to fall in love with a human guy when she basically threw herself at a demon the first time she saw him???
Embers is an excellent example of a book that should not have been written in first person. It would’ve been better if the characters weren’t so flat, but because neither of the two narrators was developed enough to have a strong narrative voice, the first person narrative was just really awkward sounding. Maybe I’m just an up-tight writerly snob, but I wanted to scream and rewrite the entire book in third person the whole time I was reading it. The only thing that got me to read through the writing was the plot. It kept me turning pages to see what happened even though I predicted every single twist from the midpoint onward. Overall, Embers is a pretty good read if you’re into plot driven stories with the “mindless entertainment factor”, but you should probably avoid it if you’re going to be irritated by cardboard characters and not so fantastic writing.