Dorreh's Reviews > A Torch Against the Night

A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir
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it was ok

** spoiler alert ** This review will be more of a rant, don't say I didn't warn you.

I'm reviewing An Ember in the Ashes and a Torch Against the Night together in this review, mostly because I didn't have the energy to rant twice.

Because I don't like using acronyms, and typing out the titles taking long, we will refer to them as book 1 and 2. In book 1, we dive into a world with so many undeveloped yet interesting ideas. From the hype that surrounded this book, I was super excited to read it, and when it started off with action, I thought oh yay this is going to be one of those fast paced excellent books! Man was I WRONG! First off, while the book tip toes around a pace that is sensible for the setting and action dwelling, it slows the scenes to a unbearable pace by contemplating every single characters emotions for what feels like a eternity. Let's start with the character Laia, shall we? We start by being introduced to her and her brother sneaking back into the house, and then the book plunges us into chaos. This would have been the perfect beginning, but laia's ineptness goes a long way to ruin it. One would wonder, how could an opinion be tarnished so early into a book? The answer is; make the main character whimpering and cowardly. My greatest complaint quite frankly is the superficiality of all the characters in this book. My personal adoration for this genre are kick ass female characters that overcome their worst fears. Laia is nothing even close, and I kept waiting for her to develop a spine, but even when the author was trying to portray her development I found I didn't like or even connect with her on any level.

Moving on, I think I made my point. DID NOT LIKE THE MAIN CHARACTER ONE BIT. Now that that's settled, let's move on to the dynamics shall we?

You seen my disappointment runs bone deep, because usually with books that provide a certain amount of Sanskrit influence, I'm pulled right in. It's the connection one makes with their own cultural ancestry. So all the more painful when I felt the great potential that this book had was wasted. Elias was no help either. A morally conflicted 20 something year old sucked into a life that was not his choosing seems like a good start for a character, add a touch of family problems and loyal best friends and you have a he perfect combination. But then he had to go all head over heals for a girl he just met, and ruin it all.

When I say superficial, it's not just that people keep falling for each other, it's just that they fall, move on, fall again, and cycle again. I mean Keenan hated your guts then pledged his all undying love for you two second later and that didn't surprise you one bit? Even better, while mooning over him you start becoming infatuated with the son of the Enemy? All the while whining about how tough life is? Really?

I think being quite honest, minus the characters, this book had a very red rising, hunger games, and Red queen with a touch of ancient Persia mixed with the Roman Empire. It was quite compelling and interesting, even the side characters were interesting enough, just not the ones the book revolves around. I mean even their mourning was superficial. You watch your grandparents get hacked to pieces and your only living relative in chains and your first thought is that you are a coward? This isn't about you! God!
Being honest the only character that had an influential role that I didn't absolutely hate was Helene. She was the only character with any semblance of a spine. She's probably the only reason I read the second book. Which took an eternity to get through. My disinterest was diminished for the last fifty pages of book two. But I literally had to read two whole books to get to a good last 50 pages, which doesn't soften the blow much.
Overall I don't think I will continue this series, even though so many people seems to love it, I was most definitely not one of them. Perhaps it was going in with such high expectations that shattered this book for me. Either way, not a memorable book for 2017,
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Reading Progress

September 19, 2015 – Shelved
September 19, 2015 – Shelved as: to-read
April 8, 2017 – Started Reading
April 10, 2017 –
page 0
0.0% "Why can't I like Laia? I'm really trying"
April 12, 2017 –
page 197
43.58% "Thus far;
Laia: I met Keenan only 3 months ago, let's get hormonally infatuated. Met Elias even later, omg he's the one!
Elias: Laia I can't hurt you, I'm dying and all *sharpens blades to cover emotions*
Keenan: *broods* Laia you should love me even though we just met like 2 sec ago, and I threatened to kill you, and not have fallen for someone else *smashes a vase broods some more*
Izzy: butterflies and rainbows"
April 15, 2017 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-36)

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message 36: by Deborah (new)

Deborah Pickstone I read the first one, had a lot of your same reactions; decided not to read on! Please rant anytime, it was an enjoyable and well-argued rant!

Dorreh Thanks Deborah, I only read it for the sake of having read it since I already owned a copy of the book

message 34: by Jiana (new) - added it

Jiana Awesome review! I read book one too and pretty much hated it so I decided not to continue!

gabby I agree in a lot of things you said. My main problem was the characters holy shit they're so immature and petty that I can't stand them!!! I even ended up DNF'ing the second book (around 70% in) since I just didn't really care about the story anymore or any stupid shit the characters were doing. I don't plan on continuing this series as well. It's great to hear other people not liking this book series since I think most people like it + it has a pretty high rating in Goodreads. Great review!

Dorreh Yeah I can sympathize jiana, thank you!

Dorreh Yes Gabby, the high rating surprised me so much

message 30: by Josen (new)

Josen Great review! :)

Dorreh Thank you josen!

message 28: by Charlie (new)

Charlie Dorreh, this is one of the BEST reviews I've read in a long while. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly ---- it's all there. Good job.

Dorreh Awwwwww thank you so much Charlie!

Andrea I loved the first book,not got around to reading the second book yet,that's why I love books we all have different opinions.hope you find a book you like.

Dorreh Thanks Andrea! Yes many did like this book, sadly I wasn't one of them

Lotte I don't like Laia either - she doesn't seem very deep to me. Yes she wants her brother back, but I feel as though that's like her defining feature? I also don't really get the instalove between her and Elias in all honesty. They hardly know each other - he kinda fell for her because she was pretty and it's just a bit ugh. I really really adore Helene though, and I like Elias a lot too. I find both of those characters to be complex and interesting, and I really really ship them together. I wish the books were told only from their perspective, to be honest. It would make them much better. I could do without Laia.

message 23: by Shaina (new) - added it

Shaina Haven't read these yet but will attempt to. At least the first.

Dorreh Yes thank you, you get me Lotte! And honestly Helene was the only reason I even bothered with book 2

Dorreh Honestly if you have another book on your shelf I would advise picking that up rather than this Shaina!

Lotte I quite like the plot - or how the plot is unfolding now Laia has her brother out. I think it's interesting and gripping, so I actually think that the next books will really get good. Laia aside, of course, unless somehow she stops being as 2 dimensional as she seems.

Dorreh Ahahahahha oh how I do hope so!

Lauren (Shakespeare & Whisky) I'm so glad there are other readers who didn't like it. I had high expectations but after reading I was just like... wtf? Why all the fuss?

Dorreh Yeah Lauren, and you know the worst part is, it could have been an excellent book. There was so much unbidden potential!

Chrissie Good review! I continue to be surprised at the high ratings for this series. I was reading through these two with the [mis]understanding that I was reading a duology and was dismayed to learn that there are two more books (#3 and #4) slated to be added to this series. No, thank you!

Dorreh Yes Christina me too! It's so weird to think so many people loved this book, where as there are so many books with similar plots and settings that have far inferior ratings are so much better than this!

Gracie S Same. Glad I tried the ebook first, because a hardbound copy would have met the wall with *such* force. If I ever read the expression 'skies' one more time I will rage. Gah.

Dorreh I know Gracie, I usually don't dismiss books easily, because writing is hard. But I just couldn't with this one!

message 12: by Sandra (new)

Sandra Good honest review Dorreh! :)

Dorreh Thank you Sandra!

message 10: by Rain (new) - rated it 2 stars

Rain Where exactly in the beginning of the book was Laia rude? She fucking developed the spine and spied for the resistance in the Martial academy full. of. rapists. who. had. a. bloodlust. for. the. scholars.
I agree that she was dumb and boring as she lacked personality but "insolent" she wasn't.
Not to sound rude, but I wonder how "kickass" you'd be if I threw you in a slave ring operated by ISIS in Syria? Sabaa Tahir has said this a billion times how the entire Empire is based on Syria and certain African nations. I agree that it's not properly explored and all though.
Lol, bitch, what "Sanskrit" influence are you talking about? This book is based on the Middle East and the ancient Roman Empire! SANSKRIT IS AN INDIAN LANGUAGE. wtf. You are so fucking dumb.

Dorreh Thank you for pointing out my typing error, I meant ‘inept’, I was either absent minded or made a typing error, either way I edited my mistake.
As for Sanskrit, yes while the language is referred to as Hindu, it had a vast distribution during the medieval era it was in while distribution among aryans and Persians. As for events of the Middle East, I am middle eastern, have been my whole life, while I do respect your appreciation for a author and her work, my opinion is my own, I did not plan on enforcing it to anyone. Also comparing a fictional young adult work to the brutality of ISIS, and the horrors they have committed is not something I would or will ever do.
Also many many many books currently revolve around the ideas of rape, bloodlust, war and lawless ideologies, I do not however believe fictional work is to be criticized based on real life events.
As for Syria, I have personally been to Syria, lived with Syrians, and as for Lai and firm standing opinion of her inadequacy, she does not resemble middle eastern people in the slightest.
Regarding your rather foul language, you seem like such a strongly opinionated individual, which I respect, but better stronger ideas than stronger words.

Dorreh *an

message 7: by Debbie's Spurts (D.A.) (last edited Mar 13, 2018 04:41AM) (new)

Debbie's Spurts (D.A.) Dorreh wrote: "I know Gracie, I usually don't dismiss books easily, because writing is hard. But I just couldn't with this one!"

Sorry you got foul comments on such a great review. Sheesh. "Not to sound rude ... but you are ... " -- how is it not rude to proceed to insult someone with unimaginative insults? If someone that foully disagrees with you, they really should just go write their own review of the book to express themselves. No justification for attacking in someone else's review space.

As to how hard a book is to write ... well, that doesn't change my reading experience of the product they publish. With new to me authors, I love the ability to sample a book. This one's sample was so promising *sigh* but will be a DNF.

Dorreh Thank you for your understanding Debbie, yes I really do agree with you. I understand that writing is hard, and with so much variation creating something worth reading is difficult. Unfortunately for me, strong characters and dynamics are the main factors for me, if I can’t tolerate or like the main characters the book doesn’t do much for me.
Also people criticize books based on opinion and taste, variation is a norm. Why someone feels the need to be rude about it is beyond me!

Masooma I didn't enjoy the second book too :/

Dorreh I didn’t enjoy either, which is very disheartening since I was very excited for this book

Imee Vito I agree actually. I mean, love/lust on first sight is so... unappetizing. Like. Yeah! You saw a hot girl and feel head over heels for her after five conversations where you noticed all her good qualities? Great! You know, if you continue to live life like that all the abacuses in the world won't be able to keep track of how many romance books you should have.

And the Maia is a tramp blah blah and all that. But wait. There's not only that.


Why in the great skies is she so damn helpless and clueless and we can see the author practically clearing all the rocks for her and there she goes, tripping on dust. Oh my gosh.

And Elias too. THE COIN.



I don't know about any other people but I'll certainly not give away such precious wooden coins to any guru on the street willing to dance with me even if he's hot.

Point is. I think we're all trying to say that it doesn't feel REAL. Not real at all.

David Total agreement, down to the "I've invested too much time in this trilogy already"!

Umm-E Hafsa I dont totally agree to youre point of view, but yeah youre review does make a lot of sense. I mean yeah in book 1 just the very first conversation of laia & Elias, and their goes Elias’s heart and also the scene in which she is placed in Elias’s room upon his second trial victory their she almost had sex with him, I mean what? But but but who she really had sex is with keenan I mean as if the girl herself is not really capable of making the right decisions. 🤷🏻‍♀️

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