Ember Burning by Jennifer Alsever
“In a town that produces opinions like a bustling factory, the one thing everyone agrees on is you don’t go to Trinity Forest. They say it’s haunted. Mysterious. Dangerous.”
Disclaimer: I was sent this book by Kate Tilton’s Author Services in exchange for an honest review.
Ember has lost her parents. They died in a car accident – she survived, and now her grief has taken over her life. She drifts in and out of dealing with the real world while also secretly obsessing over photos of missing people.
Everyone says to stay away from Trinity Forest, but Ember is looking to lose herself. So she goes in, and unexpectedly meets a group of people who have their own little oasis in the middle of the forest. But it is not as great as it seems…
“…the topic of grief and death is as comfortable as eating cactus.”
Ember Burning was an interesting book. It deals with a lot of tough themes, and was honestly a bit of a heavy read. That being said, the writing style was simple enough that it wasn’t necessarily difficult to read, which I think worked in its favour.
I appreciated the vulnerability we saw in Ember. We experience a lot of different emotions from her as she tries to sort through her grief and experiments with different vices. I found Ember to be both relatable and not. Every one deals with grief differently, and I have no doubt that many people would go down the road she chose. I did relate to her feelings of insecurity, but who doesn’t feel insecure about something? However, the pain she felt was not something that I have experienced, so at times I definitely felt like an outsider looking in at the story.
“Butterflies race inside my stomach at the sight of him and the memory of him protecting me from Psycho Lilly like some kind of Batman. A super hot Batman.”
Now, I’ll be vague enough to avoid spoilers, but there is a bit of a love story in this book as well. I did not like it though. I didn’t really believe the chemistry, and the love interest in question seemed to go from “random awkward dude” to “perfect boyfriend” real quick! I didn’t really get the “super hot Batman” vibe either (I wish though!).
To be completely honest, I didn’t really like our main character Ember either. Not in the “this is a terrible book way”, but more in the “she’s making choices that I hate” way. She’s tough to like, but that’s kind of the point of the book. She’s self-destructive, selfish, rude, and like I said, she made a lot of choices that I don’t agree with.
“‘Ember, you’ve got that look on your face again.’
‘That resting bitch face.'”
(Me too, girl. Me too.)
By the end of the book, I didn’t feel like Ember had made any development. There was no growth, and she was still giving into vices and escapes. However, in a way, it felt like that was purposely done. Ember’s grief is her whole life, and the time span of the book is not that long so it makes sense that she would still want an escape.
Overall, I thought this book was okay. It is very much a thematic book focusing on grief, loss, and guilt, and I don’t think this style is quite for me. There were some magical elements which were definitely really interesting, but that was just a small part of it. If you enjoy theme-based books, and don’t mind ones that focus on guilt and loss, then I’d recommend this for sure!
I’m curious if the rest of the series continues to focus on these themes or if the *magical* elements start to become a focus…
Triggers: death, loss, drug use, emotional abuse.
Have you read Ember Burning? Did you read the rest of the books in this series?