Book Review: Embers

Embers (The Wings of War #1)
Published By: Karen Ann Hopkins
Publication Date: October 21, 2014
Page Count: 357
Buy it at Amazon or Barnes & Noble
Source: Kindly Provided by Author
Audience: Young Adult - Paranormal

I am a huge fan of Karen Ann Hopkins' Amish YA series so when she approached me about reading this series I couldn't say no. The Wings of War is a far cry from the Amish community in the rural midwest. I was interested to see how Hopkins would tackle the paranormal.

Ember is one of those characters I do not envy. The story begins soon after her parents were killed in a car wreck that left her without a scratch. There is no rational explanation for Ember's survival; she should have been burned alive like her parents. Ember's situation doesn't improve much when her aunt and her aunt's loser boyfriend move into her house to be her guardians. The loser boyfriend sexually harasses Ember and compels her to move to the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee to live with a guardian.

Ember's life drastically changes when she arrives in Tennessee. She learns that she is a Watcher - a descendent of a relationship between a human woman and a male angel. She has power over the element of fire and she will age slowly. Ember has always felt different and slightly out of step with the world around her. The confirmation that she is something "other" helps her begin to find her place in the world. Ember must learn about the Watcher lore and learn to control her abilities. While I found the world building in this one to intriguing, I was frustrated that this was largely done through info dumps in dialogue between Ember and her guardian, Ila. I would have liked to see this information worked in to the action a bit more. I prefer the showing strategy over the telling strategy.

There were some moments when this felt like it was veering into Twilight territory. Ember is the new, fascinating girl in town that seems to draw the attention of all the boys on the first day. There is also a hot boy that she shouldn't like because of his abilities, but that she feels drawn to regardless of the warning signs. There is also insta-love which is a big reading turnoff for me.

I was interested in the paranormal aspects of this one. I liked the spin that Hopkins put on angel lore. This was slightly surprising as I am not typically a fan of angel books. The thin line between good and evil in this one is thought provoking.

I did have some trouble liking Ember from time to time which made it difficult for me to become fully invested in this story. This was new territory for me as I have typically loved the protagonists in Hopkins' previous novels. Ember had some moments were she was mean and whiny. 

My biggest complaint with this one is the pacing. The beginning was tedious as Hopkins set up her world. It is a necessary piece of this story, but I wanted it to be streamlined. In general, I think the plot could have been tighter.

I would recommend this novel to those who enjoy stories about angels and demons. The creative lore makes this one worth a read.

One Last Gripe: I was not lured in by the romance.

Favorite Thing About This Book: Aside from the lore which I loved, I did enjoy the setting. It was one of the things that initially attracted me to this one.

First Sentence: "What do you reckon them people do in there?" Ronnie asked no one in particular.

Favorite Character: Ila

Least Favorite Character: Marshall

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. Inexplicably 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.

Embers is the first novel in the dark and gritty YA paranormal romance series, The Wings of War.