Monday, 25 July 2011

Book Review: Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick

It could happen tomorrow... A cataclysmic event. An army of "The Changed." Can one teen really survive on her own? An electromagnetic pulse sweeps through the sky, destroying every electronic device and killing billions. For those spared, it's a question of who can be trusted and who is no longer human... Desperate to find out what happened and to avoid the Changed, Alex meets up with Tom---a young army veteran---and Ellie, a young girl whose grandfather was killed by the electromagnetic pulse. This improvised family will have to use every ounce of courage they have just to survive.

I found this book quite a hard book to review, as there were both things that I very much enjoyed about it and a few things that I thought weren’t all that great. I also thought that the first half of the book was much better and really different to the second half of the book, which slightly confused me as it does have a very different feel about it.   

Unlike the majority of books I have read recently, I picked this one up knowing virtually nothing about it, I couldn't even remember what the synopsis said when I started reading. Right from the beginning I found this story gripping and the action starts straight away making it easy to find yourself glued to the page, as the story really hurtles along.

The first half of the book concentrates on Alex, Tom and Ellie as they struggle to survive vicious attacks by zombie children, wild animals and still find all the practical things like food and shelter, because as luck would have it they all met deep in a hiking trail in a massive forest where civilisation is days away. However, that was also a key to their survival because they were away from the hordes of diseased killing teens and other desperate people trying to survive. I grew too really like these characters and the growing love between them all, they were becoming a family and that is where the first half of the book ends and the second half begins. All three of them decide to descend from the mountain range and wilderness and see what is left of civilisation while making their way to somewhere more permanent to live. I really want to say more about this but I am aware that a lot of people won’t have read this book yet so I will just say that it was slightly jarring and I didn’t want to let go of the characters that I started to care about. I really hope the second book in this series picks up from the end of the book, but more so I really hope that it picks up from the middle of this book as well and I get to find out what happens to the characters that just disappear!

There really is a lot going on in this book and the characters are all individually dealing with quite a lot of their own personal baggage – Tom a former solider may be suffering from post-traumatic stress, Alex has a brain tumour that may be lethal and Ellie who is still very young has lost all her family, her parents before the event and her grandfather just after. These characters were definitely a more unique bunch than you often find in YA, and I also loved that these personal baggage characteristics have been linked into the plot – again sorry but I don’t want to spoil anything so you will just have to read it to find out for yourself.

I liked the run up to the ending of the book, but the actual ending left me feeling a little confused and a bit annoyed. One of my pet peeves with books in a series is that they just stop in mid action, it’s almost like a chapter break rather than a book ending. I know this book is going to be part of a series, but please, please don’t cheat me out of an ending and just stop the story wherever you want and in what felt like mid-flow. The ending of Ashes bugged me a lot, Bick’s hasn’t even attempted to tie up any plot threads and I’m left hoping I remember all the things I wanted to find out so I don’t get confused in the next book

I did find that there were a few gory scenes that really made me glad that I wasn’t eating while I was reading Ashes, I would definitely say that Ashes has a very strong horror element. I would recommend Ashes, it has an interesting take on a zombie post-apocalyptic theme. 

 – 8/10

Genre – YA?, Horror
Published by Quercus Publishing (UK - Sept 2011)
Paperback 352 pages (£6.99)
I received a copy of Ashes by Ilsa J. Bicks in exchange for an honest review. 


  1. Great review! I've never read a zombie book before but this sounds very interesting!

  2. I just can't do zombies! I really struggle with this genre.

  3. Aimee - I've been reading quite a few Zombie books lately and some have been really good. Ashes was definitely interesting, but certainly not without its flaws - I am quite eager to read the next one in the series!

    Viv - Not every genre is for everyone!

  4. I really like the sound of this one! i've been looking to read a zombie book for ages but I'm squeamish so I've kinda avoided them because I know they'll all have gory scenes. But I think I could put up with it for this one, the story sounds intriguing! Glad you enjoyed it, thanks for the review :).

  5. Liz - It was good, definitely creepy thou! Make sure your doors and windows are locked before you begin :)

  6. Zombies! I was going to add this to my to-read list and realized it was already there but with a different cover. Love your review, but now I am scared for the cliffhanger...!

  7. Selina - I picked the UK cover - I thought that it was just so much nicer!

    I have a thing about cliffhangers - I like an ending as well as. I know it doesn't bother some people thou.

  8. This cover is definitely nicer. The US one is very creepy.

    I am with you on the cliffhanger thing. It's especially annoying when you have to wait so long for the next book in the series. It's not a TV show where you can just tune in the week after!

  9. Great review. This is next in my pile to read...looking forward to it now. :0)

  10. I'm not sure about this one. I think I'll skip it but loved your review.


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