CGG Book Club: A Torch Against The Night
I am *so* excited about this edition of the CGG Book Club! I recently had the opportunity to read one of the buzziest sequels around – A Torch Against the Night – and am delighted to share my thoughts on it with you.
What’s The Buzz?: Sabaa Tahir’s debut YA novel An Ember In The Ashes snuck up on the world last year. After experiencing quite a bit of YA trilogy fatigue (most of you are familiar with the likes of The Hunger Games and Divergent that started the trend), readers were getting tired of these series, many of which don’t pan out by the time you get to that last book. But Tahir’s debut – inspired by Ancient Rome and grounded in a magical realism world – captured imaginations for the first time in a long time. With its overlapping stories of Laia, a slave girl who goes undercover at the brutal military Blackcliff Academy as a spy for the Scholars resistance and Elias, the semi-unclaimed son of the Academy’s masochistic leader that’s doubting his path as a Mask (the most highly trained guards), the book quickly earned a legion of fans that fell for their trials, including a near-constant threat of death, a star-crossed romance (or is it a square?), and all sorts of subterfuge.
What’s The Plot?: As with most reviews of series’ sequels, I encourage you to proceed reading with caution. If you haven’t read the first book I’ll try to keep things light-ish on spoilers, but recognize that A Torch Against the Night picks up mere minutes, at most, from the first book (in fact, I strongly encourage you to re-read the last 50 or so pages of the last book to remember what’s happening). Elias and Laia have a very clear mission that guides the book’s momentum – they have figured out where Laia’s brother, the weaponsmaker, is, and they want to free him. Of course, there’s the whole issue of a bounty being on their heads, Elias having a nearly fatal encounter with his mother, the prison they want to break into is basically impenetrable, and Elias’ former best friend Helene, Blood Shrike to the new murderous Emperor Marcus, being hot on their tails. It’s an avalanche of pain as they hurtle toward their impossible mission, with less subterfuge and way more shocking, startling surprises as the clock ticks down…
What Series Is This One Most Like?: Although Sabaa Tahir’s books have stood out from the crowd, in some ways they borrow from the best. There are elements of Harry Potter’s seventh book quest, Leigh Bardugo’s Oceans 11-esque Six of Crows, the magical realism and godly warfare in Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke & Bone series, the dual viewpoints from two different worlds like Marie Lu’s Legend, and the earthy culture of Elias’ tribesmen evoking Daenarys’ people in Game of Thrones. I’m sure there’s a few others, but this one definitely tapped into all of those at first glance.
How Summery Is It?: Technically this is the last of my summer reads posts, and I’d give A Torch Against the Night /4! It’s a hard one to put down and super easy to read – it makes a perfect book to curl up with during a weekend at your cabin or stretching out at the dock.
Who Should Read This Book?: I am pleased to say that so far, Sabaa Tahir has demonstrated something not many of these YA series’ authors have really shown to date – and that’s follow-through. The first two books are intrinsically linked, yet I still have no clear idea where the story is headed. Too often, a YA series will focus on one key story, give you tons in the first book, and then stall in the second book, before wrapping it up in the third. A Torch Against the Night expertly builds on the story in book one, still offers you plenty of reveals, but provides just as many questions and challenges in book three. The only thing I’m sad about is the fact it’ll be done too soon! In the meantime, if you want to read a series that is holding strong through its first two entries – pick this one up.
Speaking of the first two entries, I’m excited to share that I’m giving away TWO sets of the first two books in the series, so you can catch up on Laia and Elias’ story before diving into the latest chapter. Want to win a set? Here’s how to enter:
1) First & foremost: you must be a subscriber to the Canadian Gift Guide to enter this giveaway. It’s as simple as finding ‘The Gift of Gab’ box in the righthand column and dropping in your email or clicking follow. Then, tell me in the comments below by September 22, 2016 – why are you interested in reading this series?
2) Entries are limited to one per person / per email address / per household (or more if you score bonus entries). A random draw will be conducted on or around September 23, 2016 to select the winner, who will have 48 hours to respond before another winner is chosen in their place.
3) Entries are limited to Canadians that have reached the age of majority in their province. Quebec is not eligible for this promotion.
4) Bonus Entry: Add this book to your to-read list on GoodReads, and leave a link back to the page it’s on below in a separate comment to earn yourself another bonus entry.
7) Bonus Entry #2: Follow me (@cdngiftguide) on Instagram and share the cover of this book in your own post, tagging me, Penguin Canada and Random House of Canada, telling us why you’d love to read this book. Post a link to your photo in a separate comment below to earn yourself an extra entry.