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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Review: Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick

Let me pause for a minute while I figure out how to put into words my feelings for this book.

I'm in awe. Speechless.

The saying "The children are our future" took on a new meaning in Ilsa J. Bick's hair raising dystopian thriller that is sure to keep you awake some nights well after you've read it.

Title: Ashes (Ashes Trilogy #1) by Ilsa J. Bick
Pages: 465
Release Date: September 29th 2011
Published by: Quercus
Source: Publisher (thanks, Alice!)
Buy: Amazon | Book Depository


No, she thought. No, please, God, I'm not seeing this.

Seventeen-year-old Alex is hiking through the wilderness when it happens: an earth-shattering electromagnetic pulse that destroys almost everything.

Survivors are divided between those who have developed a superhuman sense and those who have aquired a taste for human flesh. These flesh-hunters stalk the land: hungry, ruthless and increasingly clever...

Alex meets Tom, a younge army veteran, and Ellie, a lost girl. They will fight together and be torn apart, but Alex must face the most difficult question of all:
In such a vastly changed world, who can you trust?

A story of high-wire tension, gut-wrenching twist, and burgeoning love, Ashes will leave you breathless.

Ashes has some of the most fantastic characters I've ever had a chance to read. Alive. They behave the way people should if the world falls apart. No one with superhero complex, no pretending they can do everything. There's always a sense of foreboding clinging to every single scene in the book. Fear. Uncertainty. Doubt. Ashes is not at all a sunshine and butterflies read. Not at all. It's scary. It's horrifying. It's not a happy book. Then how come it's so good? The answer is because it was superbly written.

It may be because of her illness, but Alex is one tough gal. I guess it's different when you know you'd die soon. Alex's change was beyond useful, and instead of seeing it as a burden, she utilized it. Tom is just as messed up as Alex was, a scarred soldier inside and out. I guess people who are alike do find their way to each other. Ellie is a child who lost a part of herself when her parents died. No child should have experienced what she had been through. Her grandfather died before her very eyes. She's a stubborn kid, much like Alex, but she will grow on you. Jess is a headstrong woman. I immediately liked her. She might have her own agenda but Rule can change for the better if there were more people like her. And Chris is a character I wasn't expecting. I guess once you get used to the hopeless feeling in the book, romance is the last thing you'll expect, but it was there.

There were a lot of heart breaking moments in Ashes I thought I'd break down and cry. It was a harsh world, a whole different reality where fighting just to stay alive isn't enough. So they are alive, but where do  they go? What do they do? The desperation you will feel as Alex, Tom and Ellie struggle to gather their thoughts and plan for a future that might not exist will affect the readers greatly. Just when I feel how much of a family Alex, Tom and Ellie was Ilsa Bick just had to snatch them away, and tear them apart, I feel like she's punishing me. It's hard not to connect with those three. The overall tone of the book makes any chance of falling in love within such dark circumstances seems unfair and cruel. Why be emotionally invested on someone if they will eventually die? Or worse, be Changed and come after you to kill you? Still, I even love that the book has something positive and pleasant you can cling to.

Ashes is not just about the end of the world, or of children becoming cannibals. Call them zombies if you want to. There was a bunch of technical explanations where I got lost a little bit but it will help the readers understand a lot of things. Rule also reminds me a little bit of The Forest of Hands and Teeth, the settlement being more than meets the eye. Is it a cult, or just a place with rigid rules to ensure the survival of the people left? I still can't decide, the line was blurred pretty much the whole time. For the sake of survival, can things deemed bad become good? It was hard to distinguish what was right or wrong anymore especially if it was for the sake of survival. You do what you have to do to live, and sometimes it's not a pretty sight. There was an abundance of gory scenes and terrifying moments but it's what made Ashes such a gripping book.

Bravo, Ilsa! Bravo! This is how a dystopian book should be written. It's ugly, it's scary, but it's real. An explosive book that is sure to surprise you. I loved it! It takes a while for the pace to pick up, but once it does, there's no stopping until you finish. But dear readers, watch out for the ending, because it's one of the biggest cliffhangers I have read this year. Stunning, different but wonderful. Grab a copy of Ashes now!

My rating:

Content (plot, story flow, character):

Stunning: Worthy of a Goddess' Praise!

Book Cover:

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


  1. This one blew me away right at the beginning. So unique! Definitely held my attention throughout. I love the darker side of YA. Cannot wait for the sequel.

  2. Sounds good! I've been wanting to read that book, but after reading good reviews about Ashes, I will definitely buy a copy! Thanks for the review! :)


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