Another Half-Priced-Books buy that I'm really glad I grabbed! Ember 1 was a page-turner that sent me running to get #2 and #3 before I ever finished. While at first I found the chapter-by-chapter POV flips disorienting, I gradually grew more accustomed to them and hardly noticed them by the end.
This is a fairly simple story that is well-streamlined. Regardless, I enjoyed it, even if Laia wasn't my favorite. She has a level balance of weakness, fear, hope, and courage, but somehow I just didn't click with her. Elias, on the other hand... His chapters were definitely my favorite. Tormented by a mother who hates him, confused about his grown-up feelings for his best friend, guilt-ridden for all the things he's had to do to survive his upbringing at Blackcliff, he somehow manages to be broody without being edgy. Good on Sabaa for pulling that off!
The romance feels a bit forced and superficial to me, with Laia bouncing back and forth between a certain rebel operative and Elias (I'm on book #2 and this aspect only gets more obnoxious, but I'll save that for the next review). Laia and Elias definitely have a convincing chemistry, but every time she goes back to swooning over rebel boy, it just makes me dislike her more and then I can't bring myself to root for a real L+E hookup.
Aside from that speedbump, I really enjoyed this book! Plenty of action, internal and external conflict, character development, and interesting dialogue. I'll be reading through this series, so stay tuned for reviews for books #2 and #3. I've heard the manuscript for #4 is in editing now, so maybe by the end of this year? Fingers crossed!