Ashes (Ashes Trilogy 1) – Ilsa J Bick
Published by: Egmont
4.5 out of 5 stars
Ashes is the story of Alex, a 16 year old girl running from a monster. A metaphorical monster (at the beginning anyway). Alex has had a pretty shit life. She’s lost both parents (although they died being hero’s so thats ok..), she’s then diagnosed with a tumour (the monster) thats killing her and is subjected to endless chemo and treatments (which don’t work), she tries and fails to kill herself, and this is all before the book has even started! The phrase ‘sucks to be you’ really does apply here.
We meet Alex when she’s run away from her aunts to lay her parents ashes to rest in the wilderness (one presumes that the real motive is to kill herself, but its never put in writing). She meets up with an old man and his granddaugter, Ellie and this is when things go wrong (for every one this time!). The old man drops dead, the animals go crazy and alex gets the mother of all head aches. Its just Alex and Ellie and they set off to find a ranger station, presuming this was an isolated incident, and they were the only ones impacted by it. WRONG. Along the way they discover various dangers, the primary one being the ‘changed’ teens that have changed into zombie, cannibal-like monsters (the monster is not so metaphorical any more). They also meet Tom and the story follows the three of them, in this mismatched band of survivors.
Its not long before they discover the truth – an EMP type device went off, crashing all electronics (which is why Ellie’s granddad died, he had a pacemaker), causing everyone between about 20 and 60 to drop dead, and the teens to change. The only ‘unchanged’ were the youngsters, the oldies and a few ‘spared’ such as Alex and Tom.
There is the usual end of the world incidents (meeting up with bandits, hunters, those upto no good), the desperate need for food, the confusion etc – but what would a good disaster book be without these things.
There’s alot more to the story too – most of which I cant tell you for fear of spoiling it. Ashes is a great book, Alex is not self-pitying (although most would be) and seems to handle things well, there is some great twists, some you can see coming, others not and the ending leaves your jaw dropping.
Theres nothing spectacular about ashes, but its compelling and you want to come back and find out what is happening to the character. I gave it 5 stars for the pure entertainment factor, it was exactly what I want from a YA book, fast paced, complex characters, thrilling plot and twists and turns at every corner.