The Slow Burn of Sabaa’s Torch

Ok, ok, I’m sorry. I just couldn’t help myself with the fire metaphors.



When the Ember in the Ashes series started last year, it got a lot of attention for the diversity of characters and, well, just for being a great book. So I – along with apparently everybody at BEA this year – couldn’t wait for an ARC of A Torch Against the Night.

I say this book is a slow burn, because, despite some really exciting action sequences off the bat, there wasn’t that much character development or plot advancement in the beginning. To avoid spoilers, I’ll just say that Laia and Elias pick up right where we left them. Sabaa adds Helene’s narrative, which is very interesting, but also limits how quickly the story can progress. Cue: fears of middle book syndrome.

But, wait. Is this even a middle book? The end of Torch could work for a duology, but I still have so many questions that it can’t be the end, can it? CAN IT? But I digress…

While the slow start worried me, the pace quickly picked up. There were exciting plans and machinations, we see characters we thought might be gone (Afaya. Cook. Keenan! Izzie!!!) and don’t get me started on the plot twists. I mean, there were nice little foreshadowed hints of a key character twist, but this was a twist on top of a spin on top of a how could you do that to me!

And I think, putting the plot aside for the moment, the character relationships is where Sabaa really shines. Let’s be honest, a love triangle is central to most YA stories, but the relationship between the protagonists in Torch is so much more complicated than that. There are legitimate roadblocks to the characters being together – not just, but I’m not popular enough or pretty enough – and you legitimately understand how they can “love” more than one person. I didn’t even know which pair to ship.

Anyway, while the book may start slow, it’s incredibly exciting by the middle and devastating by the end. Definitely worth the wait and fingers crossed for a third book, maybe?



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