Author: Ilsa J. Bick
Publisher: Egmont USA
5 out of 5 stars
Your chest heaves rapidly, up and down, up and down. You try to calm down, but it’s hard to do so after what you’ve just seen. The images are burned into your skull and you don’t think you’ll be forgetting them any time soon. Your head spins as you try to raise yourself up, but it’s too much and you fall back down again. The trees around you stand majestic and tall, and if you didn’t know any better you would have thought that everything is normal. But it’s not. You can smell the blood, and it’s overwhelming. You shut your eyes tight and try to ignore the horror of it all, but you can already feel the burning bile coming up your throat. This can’t be happening you think. It is happening… and the Changed are on their way.
Alex isn’t your typical teenager. If you look at her you might think she is. You could guess that she likes hanging out with her friends, and that she’s into music. She might even play a sport, and be quite good at it too. But Alex is none of those things. She has been hardened by the burden of life, and been forced to mature far too quickly for one so young. If you pulled away all of her layers you would see that her parents are both dead, her life is on stand-by, and she has a monster living inside of her that can’t be tamed- cancer.
To escape from it all, Alex decides to take a spontaneous trip to the mountains to go for a little camping trip. What she thought would be a chance to unwind and think out in nature, ends up being a nightmare. A sudden, unexpected electromagnetic pulse, the Zap, rips through the forest, killing many its path. It leaves Alex with a blinding headache, and something unexpected. Alex can now smell again, a sense that had been eliminated by her numerous cancer treatments. But more than that, she can smell remarkably well, even sensing emotions through the smells that she encounters.
The Zap has set in motion a whirlwind of events that are about to change everything. Alex isn’t the only who was affected by the strange Zap. There are others out there that are starting to transform… into the Changed. They are becoming feral animals who crave human flesh, and can’t get enough of it. Alex knows that if she is to survive she can’t get through this on her own. She bands with the young Ellie, and the veteran soldier Tom. As they set off to find others, one can’t help but wonder who else is out there? What does this all mean? All is revealed in Ilsa J. Bick’s striking tale of one girl’s journey to pick up the ashes after all is lost in, Ashes!
Ashes is an adrenaline rush that you won’t want to end. I was taken on a wild ride through forests, over rivers, and across state lines that constantly had me on edge and my hackles raised. Ilsa J. Bick does a spectacular job at keeping the reader in the fog, yet giving out enough to keep me wanting more. I received Ashes from NetGalley* and I recommend it for older teens, as it might prove to be too intense for younger readers, and they might not fully understand quite everything that is going on.
Ilsa J. Bick knew exactly how to keep me interested, yet not give too much away. I was constantly led on a trail of clues, and I never knew more than Alex did. It felt like I was going through surviving the Zap just as she was. My heart was thumping so loud at times, I thought it would beat right out of my chest. I could feel the fear slowly building up, and then slamming into me as I realized just what was wrong. It was thrilling to get to feel on edge throughout Ashes, and never quite knowing what was going to be right around the corner.
Many elements were thrown into Ashes that made it what it is. I think this book will appeal to a wide range of teens as it has a bit of everything. There is the sci-fi element, suspense, romance, dystopia, and it shows just what different people would do in a time of crisis. I couldn’t help wondering if I would have the guts to do what was needed. Alex herself is a very hardened soul, who can be closed-off around others due to everything she has had to go through in life. It was interesting to see how certain events brought back memories, or how for once in her life she felt like she could open up to strangers.
The title of the book, Ashes lent itself nicely to the story in general. There were references to the title that really tied the story together as a whole. Also, ashes have a deeper meaning to Alex than most people, as she carries around her parent’s ashes with her. I can’t wait to read even more in the sequel, Shadows.
It would have been nice to have seen a little more background provided for the Zap. There wasn’t very much of an explanation given to why it swept across the land. However, I feel that by not fully explaining the Zap, I only knew as much as Alex did, and that helped to put me even more into the story. Also, even though Alex is a closed-off person, I would have liked to have learned more about her past as the story went on. Now and then little snippets of memories would pop up, but I feel that I would have been able to connect with Alex even better if I knew more about her before the Zap. It was interesting to get to learn about her on a whole new level though, as she struggled to survive, and I also learned about her by many of the choices she made and actions she took.
Ashes is a heart-stopping voyage of one girl’s fight to stay alive, when she is one of the few left. Nothing is as it seems in this tale full of twists and turns. Join Alex, as she learns just what really is ahead of her in, Ashes!
-This is T.B. with Another Book Back on the Shelf…
Until Next Time, Keep Reading!
*I received this book from NetGalley, a website on which you can request free advanced reader copies of books. I received Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick in exchange for my honest review. Thank you NetGalley!
Check out Ilsa J. Bick's website at www.ilsajbick.com.