22 August 2011

(ARC) YA Book Review: Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick

Release Date: 6 September 2011

Publisher: EgmontUSA
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

Pre-Order It! Amazon | B&N

Goodreads description:
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.
My Thoughts...

This novel blew me away.  With the proliferation of post-apocalyptic and dystopian fiction, I always start a novel like this is the slightest bit of apprehension because surely this one can't be as good as "X." As is the case so often, there was absolutely nothing to be worried about with this book--it was probably one of the most riveting novels that I have read this year.

When the novel opens, we are introduced to Alex, who has set off on a hiking/camping journey to Lake Superior.  Although we're not privy to her reasons for the trip, there is the distinct feeling of running away from something and an attitude of finality and closure to her journey (which makes more and more sense as you learn about her history and reasons for the trip later). Alex is immediately an intriguing character who captures your imagination with her slightly brash personality. She has a slight air of self-pitying at the beginning but that is quickly overshadowed by her fiercely independent nature coupled with her deeply caring spirit.  There's no denying that she's been through a lot and that may have caused her to be slightly wary of and abrasive toward people, but as you see her interact with the other characters, you quickly learn that she has a compassionate side that can't be shut away or overlooked.

The characters are a major factor in what made me fall in love with this book.  Alex was obviously well-developed and incredibly realistic in her strengths and flaws.  However, each and every character that we meet has a complex, fascinating nature. First, there is Ellie.  Ellie has all the signs of being a bratty, spoiled child unaccustomed to not getting her way, but she is slowly revealed as simply a truly scared child with a rough past and also as a fiercely loyal child as we watch her become attached to Alex.  Tom is just as mysterious with his uncertain past in Afghanistan and guarded personality.  As Alex becomes attached to Tom and we slowly learn more about him, he becomes more complex and appealing. Even the character we don't get to know quite as well later in the novel, including Jess, Chris, and the Reverend, are all engaging characters that you easily find yourself drawn to.  I definitely look forward to the second book so that I can learn more about these characters.

Now, the characters are fabulous, but no story could truly be as spellbinding as this one without fabulous storytelling and writing. Ms. Bick's writing is so fantastically realistic that it is absolutely terrifying at times to be reading this novel. The ideas that she brings forth about mutually assured destruction and the true weapon capabilities that we have in our world are terrifying, and that makes the story that much more engaging. The ending to this novel will leaving you gasping for breath and begging for more! I seriously kept attempting to turn to the next page on my Nook because I could NOT believe that was the end of the book.  I will definitely be waiting on pins and needles for the next book in 2012.


Selina said...

I cannot believe I missed this one on Netgalley :(
I heard so many great things about this book and I am happy you enjoyed it too. I need to get my hands on it soon! Great review!

kaye (paper reader) said...

A dystopian with fabulous characters? Say no more. You've got me hooked already.

Reflectionsofabookaholic said...

I'm sold!  Fab-tastic review.  I'm adding it to the top of my list.

Bookish Brunette said...

I didn't think this sounded THAT epic... Definitely have to check this one out! :)

Jessi said...

I didn't think it sounded that fabulous either. Imagine my surprise when I couldn't stop myself from reading it at work! 

Jessi said...

I hope you enjoy! I can't wait to get my hands on a final copy!

Raimy Greenland said...

Im hearing so many good things about this book! I must read it soon!! 

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