Ashes (Ashes Trilogy Series #1)

Ashes (Ashes Trilogy Series #1)

by Ilsa J. Bick

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It could happen tomorrow . . .
An electromagnetic pulse flashes across the sky, destroying every electronic device, wiping out every computerized system, and killing billions.
Alex hiked into the woods to say good-bye to her dead parents and her personal demons. Now desperate to find out what happened after the pulse crushes her to the ground, Alex meets up with Tom—a young soldier—and Ellie, a girl whose grandfather was killed by the EMP.

For this improvised family and the others who are spared, it’s now a question of who can be trusted and who is no longer human.
Author Ilsa J. Bick crafts a terrifying and thrilling novel about a world that could be ours at any moment, where those left standing must learn what it means not just to survive, but to live amidst the devastation.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781606842317
Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/01/2011
Series: Ashes Trilogy Series , #1
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 480
Sales rank: 83,803
Lexile: HL730L (what's this?)
File size: 3 MB
Age Range: 14 - 17 Years

About the Author

Ilsa J. Bick is a child psychiatrist, as well as a film scholar, former Air Force major, and now a full-time author. Her critically acclaimed first YA novel, Draw the Dark, won the 2011 Westchester Fiction Award and was named a Bank Street College 2011 Best Book. Ilsa currently lives with her family and several furry creatures in rural Wisconsin, near a Hebrew cemetery.  One thing she loves about the neighbors: they’re very quiet and only come around for sugar once in a blue moon. You can visit her online at

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Ashes 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 176 reviews.
BookPortrait More than 1 year ago
Really 4.5 stars Ashes is, without a doubt, unlike anything that I've ever read. With an interesting cast of characters, imagined situations that became all too real, and constant surprises, Ashes is an edge-of-your-seat read the entire way through. Alex is tired of living with a brain tumor, tired of the constant treatment attempts, tired of having other people not know how to react to her. She decides to go on a final wilderness hike and spend some time in the seclusion of nature. And then an electromagnetic pulse sweeps through the world, killing a vast majority of people, rendering electronic devices useless, and changing the world as Alex knew it. She soon finds herself with an unwanted traveling companion and trying to survive with just what was in her pack. And then Alex meets Tom, a former soldier who is also trying to survive in this world. They work together to make a life in the wake of all the destruction, all the while worrying that they may end up changing into little more than animals, as other humans have. But they eventually realize that they can't stay hidden in the woods forever, and then the real adventure begins... Because of the nature of this book, it's hard to say much without giving something away. The suspense, the constant obstacles, and the emotional journey are what make this book riveting; the characters were just as compelling as the action. Ashes is post-apocalyptic rather than dystopian, and both Alex and Tom have some basic survival skills; this allows the story to focus on deeper issues, including learning who to trust in a world with people gone mad and what to live for when it seems there are no reasons left. Everything was so vividly described (including the behavior of the "changed" people) that I felt like I was right beside Alex and Tom, both in the woods and out of it. In Ashes, elements of science fiction, dystopian, and coming-of-age books merge into something new and exciting. I will say that this book left me with some unanswered questions. Because of all the hardships that Alex and Tom face, this book is not exactly an easy read. There were a few times that I was frustrated because I just wanted something to go right for them. But despite the sadness, and despite all of the loose threads left at the end, the intensity of this book left me wanting more. Ashes is a book that you will stay up late into the night to read - I know that I did. I am already counting down the days until the next book. I cannot wait to see what else Ilsa has in store for this trilogy!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
First, let me say that this is the first book review I have ever written. The book was really good. It captures your interest and develops the characters well. There are some inconsisties with the plot. The bit about all the dogs suddenly loving Alex conflicts with the pack of dogs that initially attacked her in the forest. This is never resolved. However it is the ending or really the lack there of that really prompted me to write this review. I don't want to give away the ending so I will keep my comment somewhat general in nature. The ending does not resolve the fate of the heroine and there are other characters whose fate is left hanging as well. I can see this as a technique to set up for a sequel, but it feels like the author needed to keep the book at a certain number of words and chose to end it as quickly as possible.
HogwartsLUVR More than 1 year ago
All I could think about when I wasnt reading this book, was getting back to it as soon as I could. If your a Walking Dead fan, then you will be a fan of this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book. Could not put it down. Looking forward to the next.
Maplepie98 More than 1 year ago
Wow is what i thought in the begining, this is sooo great and suprising great book........then BAM it turned awlful could hardly keep reading. The story slowed completly down to a halting stop, it started skipping important details throwing in all kinds of names i got a little confused at where it was going, then it started almost a new story, a very bad one. Ending i thought was just plain bad! Had soooo much potential, it made me really sad. Really creepy zombies i think probably the creepiest for me because it wasnt just in the begining zombie this zombie that, but surprised me with where they came in, then how smart and their personalities, and i dont know why but how little they were actually having conflicts with the zombies made it that much more creepy. I have to read the sequel becuase i have know clue whats happend to any of the characters. So you may or may not want to risk it!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is now defiantly by second favorite book (after the Hunger Games). I loved almost everything about it and I hope my friends read it so I can talk to them about it. I read a lot of teen fiction book and most of them have a love triangle with one girl and two guy, usually it is easy to tell which guy the girl will pick in the end and it is obvious that the author set it up like that, but when I finished Ashes i really could not say with guy character she would end up with or which one I liked better. I love how IIsa J. Bick made the male characters so equal and really left it up to the reader to choose. I can't wait until the next book comes out I will defiantly read it!
Hermionish More than 1 year ago
In this riveting story of survival, 17-year-old Alexandra Adair is hiking in the woods of northern Michigan when something unexpected and terrifying happens – an electromagnetic pulse – which not only fried her cell phone and other electronic devices, but disrupted birds in flight who began crashing into each other and falling to the ground dead. Making her way back to civilization, Alex encounters several people who have changed and begins to wonder what the rest of the country and, even perhaps, the world are experiencing. In the quest to find food, shelter, and safety, Alex will soon find out what awaits beyond the wilderness…a post-apocalyptic nightmare. Ashes is divided into five parts – Part 1: The Mountain; Part 2: Tom; Part 3: The Change; Part 4: Rule; and, Part 5: The Monster; however, in reading the book there seems to be two distinctive parts – navigating the forest and then coping with life and attempting to survive in what remains of civilization. Bick’s careful attention to detail and setting the scene produced a gripping page-turner with characters that not only had depth, but were also believable. I found Ashes to be one of those books which is incredibly difficult to put down – from beginning to end there was a sense of both danger and adventure which was enthralling. At the end of the book, I was definitely excited for what’s to come in the sequel, Shadows. I rate this book five out of five stars – it’ll be a great addition to any public library’s collection. Due to graphic violence and scary situations, I’d recommend this book for grade 9 and up. Worth noting, this book has much appeal for adults, as well. Genres: Young Adult / Science Fiction / Fantasy / Dystopian / Adventure / Horror
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Will be buying rest of series.Great book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read and wasn't sure about reading #2 of this trilogy but I did anyway and I'm sorry I did. Seems like a slow moving story and alot of filler. Don't waste your money.
Coreena More than 1 year ago
For some reason, this book has taken me some time to wrap my head around and review, maybe it is because if I had to describe it in one word it would be "epic". I read it, or shall I say, tore right through it, but then had to think about it for a bit. I loved the book, even if it was very different from what I expected - it is definitely a story of survival and horror. Even with its love triangle, Ashes is definitly different from the other YA romance dystopian books out there. The beginning is really good and fast paced - we learn about Alex and her condition in a concise and intriguing way. Bick has me turning the pages to see what will happen next and how the scenario plays out. It is a book where everything goes from bad to worse, then worse again, then even worse again. The writing is vivid and imaginataive with some interesting phrasing (though there is the odd bit of distracting grammar), and this definitely applies to the gory bits - this book is quite brutal and has a great deal of graphic violence. However, Bick's writing really drew me in and I loved how she was able to create tension, even when there wasn't much action. She also used omnicient narrator quips that set reader up for tension, because we then know things that the characters don't. The story is told from Alex's point of view (but not first person present as so many books are right now), and I really felt for her. Alex is a strong heroine, capable, intelligent and likable, but in a horrible situation. I absolutely loved Ellie, the young girl that Alex finds herself looking after. She has some great, honest reactions that feel authentic to her age. I liked Tom as well, the army veteran and love interest for Alex, but I also felt a bit reserved about him, though I am not positive why. Maybe he just felt a little more stereotypical. Then there are the dogs, I love the addition of all of the dogs and how they add to the book. Probably my favorite part of this book, and something I have found with other zombie type books lately, is the exploration of human nature and how people act in stressful or lawless situations. I love how Bick delves into what is a monster - is it cancer? is it zombies? is it people who have free will and act in ways they never would under normal circumstances? She also gets into the roles of hope and fate and freedom. Ashes ends with a great cliffanger and I can hardly wait to read the next book in this series. I would highly recommend this book to those who like zombie books or who don't mind graphically brutal scenes, but who like a good post-apocolyptic story.
annmarie2011 More than 1 year ago
Alex has lost her parents and has a tumor in her head. She feels like life was not worth living what's the point. Then while out hiking an electromagnetic pulse sweeps across the sky and the whole world is turned on its head. Alex finds that most the human still alive have changed into something crazy they will kill anything that moves. Alex need to find out what's happening with no electronics and nearly everyone dead what well Alex have to do to stay alive and find out what's going on? I have been finding it hard to write up a review on this book is was so...amazing just my sort of book there was so much going on and the book never got slow it was always on the fast track. Alex was an interesting and strong character that not only looked after herself but also looked after a very stubborn child. You follow Alex journey not only does she want to know what's going on but she also wants to find out what's happening to herself. The world has changed so much that she fears what might happen now and in the future. Each day is a struggle that they have to pull through and I loved every word of the book. I really loved the horror element most of all in the book but I also love the fight to survive and the secrets and lies. It's a journey that will leave you hungry for more. I would happily recommend this book to others it's a most read book. 5/5
JackieBlem on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This novel is dystopian to it's very core and creepy as all get out. One random day, North America (at least) gets hit by a tremendous electromagnetic pulse that wipes out all electric things and immediately kills most of the population. Only the very young (12 and less) and the very old (65+) seem to survive relatively intact. Others survive too--mostly teenagers to early 20s--but they have changed into cannibalistic zombies and are very, very dangerous. The story centers on 17 year old Alex, who was camping off-season in the Michigan woods alone. She meets up with an old man and his 8 year old granddaughter shortly before the pulse, and finds herself the guardian of the little girl when the EMP kills the old man via his pace maker. Thus begins an adventure that just doesn't stop, and the surprises and violence are very nearly continuous. Desperation and brutality seem to be the aftermath of the pulse as those who are left fight to survive the first winter after "The Zap". It's a scary story with a LOT of graphic moments, but it's also impossible to put down. There are plenty of unanswered questions by the end of the book, making me wonder if there is going to be a sequel. I certainly will be trying to figure things out for a long time, wondering what clues I may have missed, etc. While it's a little choppy in places, I still call it a fine (if very, very dark) debut novel.
titania86 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Alex skipped school to go on a camping trip by herself. She has an inoperable brain tumor and she figures it wouldn¿t hurt to take some time off school. When she randomly encounters an old man and his granddaughter, Ellie, there is suddenly an incredibly strong electromagnetic pulse that destroys any electronic or computerized device and kills billions of people. Some survive, typically older people, and some become Changed: brutal, savage young adults and children whose only interest is to kill and eat others. Alex, along with Ellie and Tom, a soldier that saved their lives, form a family unit that protects each other through all the violence and death. Through a series of events, they are separated. Alex ends up at a place called Rule, a community of people that look to a panel of elders for all of their decisions. Is this place a haven or a prison? Is there something beneath the façade that is more nefarious? Will she ever reunite with Ellie and Tom?My sister is a huge zombie fan. She received an ARC of Ashes and bothered me almost daily to read this amazing zombie book that she couldn¿t stop thinking about. I finally conceded, not really knowing what I was getting into. I can definitely say that my sister was completely justified in her obsession. This is one of the most realistic and unique young adult zombie novels. The EMP that creates the zombies is reminiscent of the film The Signal, but I¿ve never read a book that used a technological cause for zombies. It throws a wrench in a lot of things we take for granted, like cars, computers, digital watches, and phones. Dealing with zombies is now exponentially harder to deal with. The zombies in this novel aren¿t really dead, but living young people that suddenly turn murderous and savage. They are even more frightening than conventional zombies because they become smarter and more organized as time goes on. The zombie scenes don¿t take up much of the novel, but they are extremely gory. The afflicted are all young adults or children and could change at any time without warning, making the older survivors wary and even violent towards young people. This is chilling on many levels. It¿s wonderful to see authors in teen fiction pushing boundaries.The zombies were only really present during the first half of Ashes. The second half featured Alex staying at a place called Rule, a small town run by religious fanatics. The quiet horror is a big contrast to obvious violence and gore at the beginning, but both are equally effective. Rule shows that the zombies aren¿t the only thing to be feared in this new world. Regular people can be just as damaging as the zombies. Alex becomes resigned to her life there after a while which is completely understandable. Life in Rule is the complete opposite of the frenetic pace in the wild: slow, normal, even boring. As she spends more time there, the mundane is outweighed by suspicious events. She vies it more as a cage and seeks to find the truth.The characters are amazing. Alex is an unexpected protagonist, mature beyond her years because of her inoperable brain tumor. She is resourceful, pragmatic, and determined to survive. Ellie was an insufferable ingrate at the beginning, but slowly learned to trust Alex and lost the chip on her shoulder. I went from wishing she would be eaten by zombies to practically crying when she was separated from Tom and Alex. Tom was a fine character, but not as developed as the others maybe because he isn¿t present for a lot of the book. Ashes would be right at home shelved among the ranks of my favorite adult zombie books. I love this book and I can¿t wait for the next book. My only complaint is the ending felt abrupt and a little bit cliché because it seems like every YA series starts with a cliffhanger ending now. I would recommend this to any member of Team Zombie or fans of dystopian novels.
cleoppa on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
OK, my first thought after finishing this is that I was disappointed to discover it was a series. While it didn't leave me unsatisfied... as if there were only half a story here, I didn't realize until the last few pages and sometimes one gets tired of stories without endings!So... an electrical pulse essentially knocks out all electronics, kills many, turns others into zombies. Leaves the remaining in one of those post-apocalyptic worlds where everyone's fighting for valuable resources. Friendship and love blossom... as well as some dangerous individuals. Alex, the star of our story, is a 17 year old with a brain tumor. She's hiking in the mountains when the pulse occurs and left with a little girl. They quickly discover the reality of their new world. Try to stay alive...
tracythelibrarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In this first installment of Ilsa Bick's dystopian thriller trilogy, Alex is a teen with a dark secret who goes backpacking in the wilderness. While in the wilderness, an EMP blast takes out most of humankind and the few who survive are either Changed (turned into carnivorous monsters)or must fight the Changed and scavenge for supplies in order to survive. Alex finds herself part of a family of Spared (young people who survive and are not Changed) as she, Ellie (an 8-year old girl) and Tom (a 22-year old Afghanistan war veteran) fight to survive. I found myself up late at night past my bedtime unable to put this one down. Bick has created a world with deep characters and a well-planned storyline that kept me guessing as to what would happen - all the way up until the end of the book when I was left hanging. Only then did I realize this was part of a series. For those who loved the Hunger Games series, this book is a sure hit. I can't wait for the next installment in the series!
krau0098 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I got an advanced reading copy of this book through NetGalley(dot)com. This just sounded like a really interesting read and it ended up being exactly that. This book has a very creative take on the apocalypse, is set in an interesting setting, and was absolutely engrossing. The second book in this trilogy is Shadows and will be released in 2012.Alex is taking a long hike to say good-bye to her parents and deal with her own personal tragedy, an inoperable brain tumor that is slowly incapacitating her. During her hike she is flattened to the ground by a pulse of...something. She meets up with a young girl named Ellie and an ex-military man named Tom in the woods. Together they try to figure out what happened and what is going on with the crazy flesh-eating people that they occasionally stumble upon.This book is super suspenseful and almost more of a thriller than anything else. It was terrifying at times and incredibly hard to put down. I was impressed by how many different things this book deals with. Bascially you have brain tumors, nuclear warfare, the apocalypse, zombies, and even a dystopian community all in one book. I kid you not. This all made for an incredibly engaging and interesting read; I never knew what to expect next.Unlike most of the apocalyptic novels that I have read this one takes place in the middle of nowhere. Because of that it is not humanity, but the absence of it, that the characters struggle with in the first part of the story. The characters just can't figure out what's happened and are trying to piece things together from a few static-filled radio casts and the things they see in their travels through the forest. The pulse killed everything electronic, so right off the bat the characters are having to struggle with that. There is also an interesting side note that only some people changed into zombies and it only seemed to be people of a certain age group. The explanation behind this is fascinating.This is not a novel for those with weak stomachs. Things are gorey and nasty at a number of parts. There are places where as a reader you are thinking as loud as you can "oh please don't let that happen, oh please don't let that happen" and then it does happen. The book is utterly unpredictable and the foreshadowing filled with sentences like "that was the last time we laughed". So, yeah, not an extremely uplifting read. But the story absolutely grabs you and won't let go.There is a constant undertone of the characters having to choose between humanity and survival. There is also an underlying theme of who is really the monsters; the mindless zombies or the humans that are taking advantage of people trying to survive?The only weak point of this book for me were the characters. They are all okay, but I never really liked any of them. The romance between Alex and Tom felt unreal and forced. The people Alex meets up with in the settlement are in general unlikable too. It wasn't that I disliked Alex as a character, I just had trouble really liking and relating to her.The book does end on a bit of a cliffhanger, but it isn't horrible. It ends at a good place to start the next story and really made me want to know "what next?!".Overall this was a fantastic addition to the apocalyptic/zombie genre. It is more of a thriller than a sci-fi and not for the faint of heart. Definitely for young adult or older only; there is some very graphic violence in here. There are also some incredibly creative ideas in here relating to zombies and the apocalypse. The book is done in an interesting way and in an interesting setting. I loved the writing and was completely engaged in the story, it was so hard to put this book down. The only weak point for me was the characters; I had some trouble relating too and engaging with them. If you are a fan of young adult post-apocalyptic fiction definitely pick up this book; I think adults will enjoy it just as much as YAs and it was a really great story.
dasuzuki on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really had a hard time settling on a rating for this book and almost decided not to give a rating. The main reason why was that I absolutely loved the first part of the book. Yes, some of Alex's skills were just too good to be true and yes, Ellie was a total brat but what can you expect from an 8 year old who just lost her father but the story was exciting, it moved along nicely and I was immediately engrossed in the entire story. Just as a warning, I did not know this was going to be a zombie story and there were some surprisingly gruesome parts for a YA book. I'm still curious about why some people turned zombie and some didn't and I have to admit it's driving me a little batty wondering why. Still I could not put this book down and then it all came to a screeching halt.The author takes you to this exciting climax with so many things going on and your heart is racing wondering what is going to happen and then slams you into a wall. The action cuts off and picks up again 3 days later. It was so abrupt I actually flipped back and forth a few pages to make sure I did not miss anything. It was so disjointed and such a let down that it tainted the rest of the book for me. I found this later half to be pretty slow moving and I found the new characters to be hard to care for or despise. Even Alex seems to fade away and had a hard time making me root for her again. Then the ultimate disappointment was finding out this was a part of a series and you are left totally hanging. Not even a clue about what may happen next. So really the first part of the book was a 4 for me and then the second half dropped down to a 3 and possibly even a 2.5 star. Still I enjoyed the beginning so much that I will definitely pick up the next book in the series and am hoping the excitement and level of writing rises again.
nlsobon on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
¿Ashes¿ may just be one of the best books I¿ve read this year (right up there with ¿Divergent¿). It¿s creepy, violent, and incredibly addictive. Alex, the seventeen year old main character, has a brain tumor. She¿s decided that finishing her treatment is useless, so she sets off on a backpacking trip, leaving behind her aunt, as her parents both died. While on her trip, she comes upon an older man traveling with his granddaughter, Ellie, and their dog, Mina. It¿s while she¿s with them that the electromagnetic impulse occurs, changing everything in an instant. All of their electronics die, along with the old man who had a pacemaker. Most of Alex¿s items become useless and she¿s left with Ellie, the old man¿s eight year old granddaughter, and their dog, Mina who won¿t let her near the old man. When she sets out for help, Ellie eventually following behind, they come upon their first victims of the change. It¿s a horrifying scene, but they manage to get away. Later on, after being chased by dogs, a man who has undergone the change tries to take Ellie, forcing his friend, Tom, to kill him. The three of them set off together, doing their best to keep safe, but keeping safe won¿t be easy. And this is where I avoid spoilers.¿Ashes¿ is a heart pounding story that will be hard to put down. It¿s a story about survival, about finding the strength within to keep going. The scenes after the change, they are creepy, and at times disgusting (example: the scene in which Alex and Ellie come upon the teens with the old lady), but you won¿t be able to stop reading. Bick has created a realistic world and believable characters you¿ll come to care about. I think Alex is a wonderful character. She¿s strong, while still fragile. She¿s far from a pushover and I love that about her.If you enjoyed ¿The Hunger Games¿, you¿ll most likely enjoy ¿Ashes¿. I should probably state that there are zombies and there is quite a lot of violence in ¿Ashes¿, so it¿s not for everyone, but it is an excellent start to a trilogy. That cliffhanger though, it¿s going to drive me nuts.
jwitt33 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I got this book as an eArc from Netgalley for my honest review.From Goodreads: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...My opinion:This book is awesome! It doesn't take long before the big event happens, and from there this book is nonstop action. Alexandra (17 years old) is camping out alone on Waucamaw Mountain, trying to figure out how to handle some pretty huge problems in her life. She lost her parents a few years ago, and then she got hit with huge news: She has an inoperable brain tumor. For a long time she tries chemo and radiation, but nothing helps. She's trying to decide whether she should continue with experimental treatments or basically take control of the end on her own terms. She comes across a man, Jack, and his 8 year old granddaughter, Ellie, who are hiking in the mountains, dealing with some big problems of their own. Ellie's mother ran out on her when she was a baby, and her father died in Afghanistan. She's living with her grandfather now and is a very angry little girl. When the impossible happens, these three are together. Jack is killed instantly, leaving Alex to take care of Ellie and get her down off of the mountain. The electromagnetic pulse has knocked out all electronics, except very old ones, like old trucks and old radios, so she knows that going to her car is not going to do her any good, even if it wasn't a 3 to 4 day hike on a good day. But they have bigger problems. After the explosion, while all of the middle aged people are killed, the younger ones turn into the "Changed," or zombies. Some of the teens are not affected for unknown reasons, and they are called the Spared. That's as much information as I am going to give because I don't want to give any of the good stuff away! And there is definitely a lot of good stuff in this book! The scariest part, I think, is that this is a realistic scenario to some extent. It is well thought out and explained in a way that even someone with no background in the area of electromagnetics, such as myself, can understand. The way the characters act, in relation to each other and in relation to how they react to the crisis, is presented in a very believable way. The characters are fleshed out and three dimensional. Their fears feel real to you, and you find yourself really caring about them. Some of the people Alex and Ellie come across are very kind but most are scared and just looking out for themselves, which is also very believable. When people are scared they can do terrible things in the name of survival, and we see that in this book. There is violence, that's for sure, but none of it feels like it is gratuitous, or just there for shock value. Everything that happens moves the story along. The flow of the story is great, and it's really hard to put down because you always want to know "what's going to happen next?" The only area I had doubts about was with the town that Ellie goes to for help, Rule, and how people acted there, but once I kept reading, I could see where the author was going with it. She was going to one hell of a cliffhanger! I'm not kidding - the ending completely shocked and awed me! I didn't see it coming at all, which I absolutely love in a book, and it made it impossible for me not to read the next book in what I hope and pray is a long, long series!!I highly recommend this book for anyone who loves a good postapocalyptic story.
karen813 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Ashes by Ilsa Bick covers the experiences of Alex, Ellie and Tom as they struggle to survive in a world destroyed by an EMP (electromagnetic pulse). Alex is hiking alone when she meets Ellie and her grandfather just prior to the pulse, after the pulse nothing is the same and Alex and Ellie must literally fight for their lives. Things improve a bit when they meet Tom, a 22 year old military man, but they quickly go downhill when the trio tries to rejoin the rest of the world.There is a lot going on in Ashes and it moves very quickly. i enjoyed reading about Alex's struggle to survive and slowly learning about her past. I also liked watching her relationship with Ellie develop and seeing the three of form a sort of family early on in the book. The struggles seemed realistic and the reactions of the survivors were what I would expect after such a devastating event. I was intrigued by the science behind the EMP and the characters struggles to understand why some survived and some did not. The only part of the book that I didn't like was the creation of the zombie like teens and young adults throughout the book. I thought the struggles to survive in a world without technology and with a population missing a vital age group was enough to sustain the book. I think the addition of the zombie teens was unnecessary and took something away from the seriousness of the rest of the novel. While the zombies add lots of fear and loathing to the book, I don't think it needed that extra fear. I am looking forward to reading more about Alex and I have lots of questions about what's going to happen that I hope will be answered in the next installment. I think the book was well written and very absorbing, I just wish the zombies had been left out in the end.This review was based on a galley copy of the novel provided by the publisher via NetGalley.
ReadingFanatic09 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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.
WaltNoise on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is an excellent YA novel, a blend of survivalist SF and horror. The `end-of-the-world¿ event is a massive EMP attack, but the resulting zombification of many is the main challenge to survival. Unlike much survivalist fiction, it dwells more on social and personal challenges than efforts to revive old-fashioned technology. The characters are appealing and believable. The protagonist, Alex, is a seventeen-year old woman, but the book should appeal to teen-age boys, as well: it is a back woods survival tale with zombies. It will also appeal to adults. There is nothing juvenile about the writing or the themes. A novel written for adults would probably have explicit sex scenes that Ashes lacks. This does not distract from the book¿s realism at all, considering the characters and the dire circumstances with which they must cope. The ending disappointed me, until I realized that this is the first volume of a trilogy. The forthcoming second volume is Shadows, and I am looking forward to reading it.
allureofbooks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick is a real genre-bender. Some parts apocalyptic, then post-apocalyptic and also dystopian. Most of all though, I thought the entire book was written in a way that could please the most die-hard horror fans. Oh, and did I forget to mention that the book is REALLY STINKING AWESOME?I was actually really impressed by the horror part of things. I have never read a YA novel that managed to capture a legit Stephen King-like vibe so successfully. One of the defining characteristics of horror (if you ask me) is the grossness factor. Very intense, gruesome and descriptive grossness. This book has that in spades, what with fleshy windpipes flapping in the wind and scenes with ropes of intestines being sucked up like candy.Alex is on a trek out in the wilderness, and is hauling around enough baggage for about fifty people along with her camping supplies. Then an apocalyptic-worthy electromagnetic pulse wipes out all electronics, a lot of brains and just generally does its best to end the world. You know, the usual. I was very impressed by the scientific efforts Ilsa Bick put into this, because by the time it was done being theorized and discussed by the characters ¿ it seemed totally legit and enormously frightening.Alex ends up saddled with an eight year old (keep in mind: by nature, eight-year-olds are built to be annoying and as worthless as possible in survivalist situations). Then they run across army vet Tom and a rag-tag family is born. Of course, since this isn¿t a happy, roast-your-marshmallows-and-sing-bonding-songs camping story, things don¿t really go too well. No one is safe and anything is possible ¿ Ilsa Bick isn¿t interested in pulling punches. Never assume your favorite character is exempt.The story has a lot of twists and turns, and just when you think things are settling in ¿ you¿ll get slapped in the face. That¿s a promise. There was a second toward the end (deep in the heart of a creepy dystopian society) when I thought ¿Alex? Have you given up? Are you just going to settle and not fight?¿ and then came the slap. I should have had more faith! Never a dull moment y¿all, so don¿t let down your guard.The writing, the story, the characters ¿ everything about this novel is stellar. I have that ¿I-want-to-take-this-book-everywhere-and-never-let-it-out-of-my-sight-because-it-is-my-preciousssss¿ book high (what? you don¿t have those?). The only thing bringing me down is the truly horrendous cliffhanger and the fact that the next book won¿t be out until late 2012. (Oh, and Lord save me from the love triangle I see coming¿)Anyway¿I leave you with a passage from the beginning that I loved:¿What no one warned her about was that when you had no sense of smell at all, a lot of memories fizzled. Like the way the smell of a pine tree conjured a quick brain-snapshot of tinsel and Christmas lights and a glittery angel, or the spice of nutmeg and buttery cinnamon made you flash to a bright kitchen and your mother humming as she pressed pie crust into a glass dish. With no sense of smell, your memories dropped like pennies out of a ripped pocket, until the past was ashes and your parents were blanks: nothing more than the holes in Swiss cheese.¿ (ARC page 21)
Bookswithbite on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read this book in under two hours while waiting to be called in at the doctors office. And while i was reading this book I look over my shoulder alot. Why? Well this book had a spur of the moment zombie apocalypse and sitting in a waiting room full of sick people....yeah... I totally let my mind run with my imagination a bit. LOL I really loved this book. I loved the story line and the way it flowed. Ms. Bick did a great job in capturing the reader from the very first page. I admit I was confused at first, but as I continued to read and saw how it all came together...light bulb. I loved that the world created is so great descriptive that you can see it in your mind. The characters were great! Ms. Bick did a great job in capturing the voice of a teenager. And not just a voice but a strong one. Alex is one tough cookie. I loved her and immediately feel into her shoes. Ms. Bick made it easy for the reader to relate to Alex as well as feel her strength. If you love dystopian read this book! It has a strong kick-butt girl, zombies, and some hotties that blew my mind! Ms. Bick filled her book with great action, love, and read you will never forget!
Bibliotropic on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Alex, a teen girl dying of a tennis-ball-sized tumour in her brain, decides to take more of her life into her own hands when she runs off to deliver her parents' ashes to their final resting place. In the middle of the woods, she runs into an old man and his granddaughter Ellie. And from there, things all go to hell when a splitting pain cuts through Alex's head, animals go frantic and mad enough to suicide, and the old man drops dead at their feet.As if that alone wouldn't scare the bejeezus out of a person, as Alex and Ellie travel through the woods, trying to find their way to help, they come across people gone insane, violent and cannibalistic, and to Alex's new superpowered sense of smell, with the scent of rotting meat and death all around them.Welcome to the world of Ilsa J Bick's Ashes.Bick has proven in her previous books that she has a flair for disturbing imagery, which suits a post-crisis zombie outbreak perfectly. With the first half of the book consisting essentially of survivalist fiction as Alex and company try to survive in the woods while avoiding the deranged zombie-like people, we get to see Alex struggle to accept the changes that she can sense in herself, but also to see very clearly just how the world has very quickly changed. Electronics, with the exception of old items, are no longer functional, hampering communication, travel, security, even the ability for most watches to be able to keep time. Any people that they run into who haven't been changed into cannibals are, in their way, just as dangerous, all out for themselves as they too fight for survival and any shred or normalcy that they can cling to. Like most good zombie stories, the zombies are more of a catalyst for humanity's darker side to show than they are the true enemies of the story, and this is no exception. A good amout of the first half of the novel feels very much like 28 Days Later.The second half of the book is chilling in a far more subtle way. After being seperated from her other companions in various ways, Alex finds herself in the rather secure town of Rule, which has adapted very quickly to the new problems that the world is now facing. A fairly secure perimetre has been set up, people are tasked to do whatever they're best at so that all hands who can help do help. The only problem is that nobody's allowed to leave, and that most of the townspeople seem to think that it's their solemn duty to repopulate the world once more...Bick certainly knows how to tell a story that will leave you shaken. Disturbing and insightful, this YA novel is one that can appeal even to those who tend not to enjoy stories about zombies, as evidenced by the fact that I read it and really liked it (and I normally can't stand zombies; they scare the whey out of me!). I highly recommend reading this if you are a fan of zombies fiction, or a fan of post-apocalytpic YA tales. This is a book that does not disappoint.