04 June, 2018

#BookReview :: Crimson Ash by Haley Sulich

You may live as a soldier or face death. Choose wisely.

Solanine Lucille wants her little sister back. Eight years ago, the government kidnapped her sister Ember, stole her memories, and transformed her into a soldier. But Solanine refuses to give up. Now that she and her fiancé have located the leader of a rebel group, she believes she can finally bring Ember home. But then the soldiers raid the rebels, killing her fiancé and leaving Solanine alone with her demons and all the weapons needed for revenge.

After raiding a rebel camp, sixteen-year-old Ember doesn’t understand why killing some boy bothers her. She’s a soldier—she has killed hundreds of people without remorse. But after she fails a mission, the rebels hold her hostage and restore her memories. Ember recognizes her sister among the rebels and realizes the boy she killed was Solanine’s fiancé.

Ember knows she can’t hide the truth forever, but Solanine has secrets too.

As their worlds clash, the two sisters must decide if their relationship is worth fighting for. And one wrong move could destroy everything—and everyone—in their path.

I read this book quite some time back after my request for a review copy got approved on NetGalley. The blurb and the cover, both intrigued me enough for me to request a copy in the first place. But I had mixed feelings about the book once I finished reading it.

Crimson Ash is the story of two sisters set in a dystopian world. Solanine and Ember are sisters whose lives were changed completely the night their government kidnapped Ember. Erasing the memories of people to turn them into effective soldiers is just one of the tactics that the government uses to keep the general mass under control. But Solanine is not ready to give up. She is determined to rescue her sister and for that she ventures on to find the rebel camps along with her fiancé. But not everything goes according to her plan and the loss of her love hits her hard. With secrets between them, when the sisters finally find their way to each other… will everything they have done and faced be worth it to keep them together?

What I loved about the book was the theme of choices and their repercussions throughout. It is something that always makes me stop and think… what choice would I make? Would I be able to live with the results of that choice? Whether it is Solanine or Ember, their choices have impacted each other and others around them and the crux of the plot came down to the question whether they could live with it. This in turn helped the plot to touch upon the theme of self-destruction, something we could all learn from. The thing that I love about dystopian novels is the fact that when well developed, the dystopian world can actually help us realize a lot of things about our realities; One reason why I loved Margaret Atwood’s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ and one reason why I loved this book.

On the other hand, the first half of the book was really slow. Given the fact that I still have questions about the world setting, not enough world building was done in the first half to make concessions for the slow start. The pace picks up after about 60% of the story is done and as such it was difficult to really get into the story at the beginning. I also felt that the dialogues (especially the ones that were meant to be hard hitting) were just bland.

Would I recommend this book to someone? I probably would, but with ample warnings about the pace and trigger content.

Review Copy received via NetGalley

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