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Friday, March 8, 2013

Book Review: Ashes

Author: Ilsa Bick
Series: Ashes Trilogy #1
Publisher: Egmont USA
Release Date: September 6, 2011
Pages: 465
Read it in: 3 days
Source: Won in Zombie Craze Giveaway 2012 from the Bookish Brunette! :)

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Summary: It could happen tomorrow...

An electromagnetic pulse flashes across the sky, destroying every electronic device, wiping out every computerized system, and killing billions.

Alex hiked into the woods to say good-bye to her dead parents and her personal demons. Now desperate to find out what happened after the pulse crushes her to the ground, Alex meets up with Tom—a young soldier—and Ellie, a girl whose grandfather was killed by the EMP.

For this improvised family and the others who are spared, it’s now a question of who can be trusted and who is no longer human. Author Ilsa J. Bick crafts a terrifying and thrilling post-apocalyptic novel about a world that could become ours at any moment, where those left standing must learn what it means not just to survive, but to live amidst the devastation.

LC's Take:

"So far this book is AWESOME-- just don't read it and eat at the same time."

(my first Goodreads update)

So, have you ever come across a book and your first reaction to it is: "UGH! No WAY am I ever reading that one!" But then... something about it intrigues you, and you sorta can't stop thinking about it, so eventually you're just like, "OK, what the hell, I'll give it a shot."

Yeah, that was me with Ashes. The cover quite frankly scared the living daylights out of me, but for some reason, I was still interested in it-- then I won it in a giveaway, so at that point it was like, well now I have to read it-- and I'm really glad that I did. I mean, where do I EVEN begin?? This book was gory, intense, horrific, and FREAKING SWEET. It gave me chills, it grossed me out, and it had me on the edge of my seat for pretty much the entire time I was reading it!

A brief synopsis: Alex is in the woods when it happens-- the "Zap"-- the shock that sends everyone into a terrifying Post-apocalyptic world where teens Alex's age start to go crazy... and cannibalistic. But Alex is no stranger to near-death experiences and fighting to survive, because with a giant brain tumor slowly eating away at her, Alex has always felt like it's only a matter of time before the silent "monster" defeats her... but while so many others are either dead or eating the dead, the Zap has actually given Alex the superhuman ability to sense, or more specifically smell, when danger is around or when people's emotions change. Most importantly, she can tell the difference between who's still human and who has changed and gone berserk...

Alright so first of all, Alex was such a kick-ass main character. Strong, independent, and armed with an arsenal of survival skills and a dry sense of humor, she was one of those characters who you just LOVE to read about. I could relate to her, I became invested in her story, and so I was pretty much hanging on every word. Not to mention the fact that the girl has a brain tumor that is slowly killing her, and yet she doesn't have any major self-pity or cynicism to make her unlikable. She goes through some of the most horrific and painful experiences and yet there is no whining from her-- this was a YA character who I completely respected and was thrilled to be reading about!

Ellie and Tom, the two main supporting characters who Alex meets in the woods, were equally as intriguing. For example, when Alex first meets 8-year Ellie on the mountain, I couldn't stand her. She was a whiny little brat who caused about 50 million problems for Alex and was ungrateful that Alex saved her life a bunch of times. However, around chapter 12, Ellie decides to stop being a major pain in the rear and then she actually becomes a very endearing character. And Tom worked well as far as a love interest goes because his interactions with Alex were so interesting, and because the romance that builds between them was very gradual and not forced.

My only *one* caveat with Ashes was that I felt the story slightly lost its momentum in the latter part of the book. For the first part of the story, I got so deeply involved with the three main characters, and how they interacted together-- Ellie, Tom and Alex were interesting themselves, and I was loving seeing how their relationships played out. PLUS the first part of the story was so freaking scary and suspenseful, and I loved that feeling like just around the next page could be something else truly horrific. But then... the plot takes a turn, and Alex, Ellie and Tom get split up-- Alex winds up in a small town called Rule, where she becomes stuck in their strict society and religious fanaticism, and at this point I kind of felt like the plot lost some of its original intensity. It's not that the story got to be boring, but I did somewhat lose interest in it and I wasn't as invested in the new characters. However, then there was the MAJOR cliffhanger at the end-- OMG the ending!!

So even though Ashes was not even a book I had originally planned on reading, I am so glad that I made the decision to give it a shot-- it was an action-packed thriller filled with heart-stopping scenes, horrific and gory descriptions that gave me the chills, and complex characters that I couldn't help but become attached to. Not to mention, the writing was amazing. This one definitely stands way out from a lot of other YA, and if you love a great story, great characters, and aren't too squeamish, I would absolutely recommend that you give this one a chance as well!

~Cover Talk~

Let's not beat around the bush-- this cover scares the living bejeezus out of me. In fact, the cover art on this book is so insanely creeptastic and disturbing that I had to take the book jacket off the book while I was reading it just so I wouldn't have nightmares. No, I'm not joking. But let me also say that it was BECAUSE of the fright-level of the cover art that I eventually came around to reading this one-- it's just one of those images that you can't really forget once you've seen it.

I'm also a huge fan because it appeals not just to girls or YA-lovers-- don't get me wrong, I love covers with the pretty models in pretty dresses, but those books are really being put in a box and are limited in their appeal to a wider reading audience. The cover of Ashes however is awesome because it is not only extremely eye-catching; it crosses over to many different reader groups.

Find it!

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LC's Rating:
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Don't let the cover fool you-- Ashes was more than just a horror story. It had interesting and complex characters, awesome writing, and tons of plot turns to keep you guessing what will happen next. This is one book that will definitely keep you on the edge of your seat!


  1. Just want to warn you -- Shadows is even more gross and bloody -- but I still loved it. Great review!

  2. Months later, and this book has certain scenes that still resonate in my mind. Like the one at the river. Eugh. I know what you mean about not eating, but I could have told you that! It's a zombie book! :D

    Agreed about the momentum changing in the second half of the book. It's not that it was bad, it's just that it was completely different and unexpected. But once I got used to the change, I like it. I still haven't read shadows, but I am excited to see where she takes the plot.

    And ooh, yeah that is a creepy cover. But I think it's amusing you had to take it off while reading. :D

  3. Nice review. I definitely agree with the cover. I love this cover. It's creepy but it's not totally cheesy. I'm kind of in the same boat with this one. It's been sitting on my shelf for a bit. I will probably get around to reading it soon. I'm kind of in the mood for something dark and creepy. =]

  4. Lea, excellent review! I read Ashes and loved it to! Are you going to read the sequel?


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