Review: Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick

Ashes by Ilsa J BickIt 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 post-apocalyptic novel about a world that could become ours at any moment, where those left standing must learn what it means not just to survive, but to live amidst the devastation


I haven’t read a young adult fiction with such an annoying cliff-hanger since I read Glass Houses by Rachel Caine. Talk about exhausting!  I had to fight the urge to stamp into work, duck out to the warehouse, locate the sequel, and demand it be sold to me! I finished Ashes just before going to sleep and was so thoroughly disappointed… Then again, maybe it was a good thing. Who knows how much sleep I would have missed out on if I’d had the sequel?

It does help that I’m an animal lover and Ashes features plenty a canine companion. If puppies and bunnies (referred to in the story) don’t make the world go around, then I don’t want to know about it.

Alex is a fighter and survivor before the zombie apocalypse hits. It’s hard not to align with a character like that when you’re a spoonie whom has fought not just to exist, but live. She’s been alienated by the illness that has attacked her. I love a character who is such a fighter, has been done hard by, but isn’t a big sook about it.

Then Alex gets stuck with a kid, a dog, and then meets a boy. This is where the story lost it just a fraction for me. Maybe it wasn’t completely meant to be that way, but it came across as these characters playing family in a messed up world. I struggle with insta-love in novels as is, thankfully this isn’t completely present, I definitely don’t want to read about an insta-family. The characters are likeable though, likeable and understandable. I was able to read past the insta-family and enjoy the story.

The plot began to sag in the middle and continued close to the end. I can’t tell if the story itself got lost, or it was just the character’s direction. It was a bit of a muddle to get through, but I got through it and enjoyed elements of it enough to make it to the end. The cliff-hanger of an ending!

While there were aspects of Ashes that rubbed me the wrong way and left me unsatisfied, on the whole I thoroughly enjoyed the story. I had difficulty putting it down. I reserve my reading time for when I’m commuting and I almost missed my station several times. I’d be completely startled when I’d look up and see people getting off where I was meant to alight. I’d even go as far as to read Ashes in the common room at home, with my house-mates talking around me. Something of which I’m not very good at doing, but Ashes held my attention. I can’t wait to find out if the sequel does the same.

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