Newest Review: ... pet dog. It was when chatting to her new 'friends' when the pulse happens. An electromagnetic pulse sweeps through the country, destroyi... more
Don't let this book gather dust!
Ashes - Ilsa Bick
Member Name: Rhiana
Ashes - Ilsa Bick
Advantages: Beautifully written edge of your seat horror
Disadvantages: would have liked to see a little more developement in the relationships.
"It could happen tomorrow . . . An electromagnetic pulse flashes across the sky, destroying every electronic device, wiping out every computerized system, and killing billions."
When seventeen year old Alex decides to embark on a lone hiking trip in the remote mountain range she loves, she is expecting it to be her last. Diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour shortly after loosing her parents, the last couple of years have been rough and now all she wants to do is say goodbye to her parents and find peace within herself before the inevitable.
But when she's struck to the ground by an electromagnetic pulse, finding peace becomes the last of her priorities, especially as she reluctantly finds herself responsible for eight year old Ellie. When she meets Tom, the three of them bond together as a family in a fight for survival in a world where most of the population were either killed in the pulse or 'changed'. With only a few people spared, life becomes a battle...No-one can be trusted and nowhere is safe.
Ashes is one of those books that arrived without any great fanfare and I didn't know much about. It looked interesting, but sat on my to be read pile for a while until I randomly picked it up one day and became hooked.
The book starts with Alex's background story, a girl who lost both her parents in a tragic accident and is now herself in the last stages of terminal brain cancer. Despite the trauma surrounding her, she doesn't come across as depressing and her matter of fact attitude intrigued me. As she embarks on her final trip into her beloved mountains we get a real inside on her character and I grew very attached to her. I also loved the descriptions of the wilderness, which Bick herself clearly has a passion and knowledge of.
What sets Ashes apart from the many dystopian novels about at the minute is how it's not set in some time in the future, it's right here and now and the threat is very real. Alex is going about her life, in a somewhat state of despair, when pow. It all changes. As said in the blurb, this world really could be ours at any moment and the book drives home how precarious life is.
Ilsa J Bick portrays a stark and brave account of survival. Alex is in a position where she believes her life is pretty much over already, yet still the instinct to survive kicks in and she's a fantastically sympathetic heroine. I love how Bick makes her strong, determined, resourceful and compassionate character, yet still has flaws. She isn't always likable, but she is always real and you're able to understand her easily. Sometimes she comes across as harsh, particularly in the beginning with eight year old Ellie, but this just gives her an honesty and humanness. I'm sure under the circumstances I'd be pretty irritated at times too.
I adored the relationship between Alex, Ellie and Tom and how together they made a unit. If i had one complaint about the book it would be that I'd have liked to have seen more development of it. There seemed to be a big jump of several weeks at one point which may have affected the intensity of Alex and Tom's bond a little for me, but that is just a minor complaint.
Ashes is an edge of your seat horror, with threats around every corner for it's main characters. People were either spared, killed or changed in the electromagnetic pulse, and those who changed now want to eat those who survived. I've never really found zombies believable before, but Ilsa J Bick makes them so. They're like feral, wild animals rather than lumbering brainless lumps of dead meat. Terrifying. But even more frightening is that the other threat comes from those who survive, as it becomes every person for themselves. I also thought the society of Rule, were Alex finds refuge from the outside world, was genius and sinister. There really is so many dynamics to this story it's a roller coaster from beginning to end.
Not everything is explained in Ashes, in fact I'd say it throws up more questions than answers and leaves on a huge cliffhanger that left me desperate for the next book in the trilogy. This is one I'll certainly be following, there is so much more to discover and I can't wait to see what happens for Alex next.
Published by Quercus September 2011
Copy received from publishers for review.
Summary: A story with many dynamics. Fans of horror and dystopia will love it.