Before I begin relating my thoughts on Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick, there’s a bit of backstory to share. On Halloween night I took my daughter and her friend to Barnes & Noble. We were all decked out in Day of the Dead faces, twas quite a sight. I told my daughter I’d buy her one book. She chose Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick. Ironically, I bought Soft Apocalypse that night and we realized at checkout that we’d both chosen apocalyptic fiction. What a family we make.
It took my daughter two days to finish Ashes and she was in a state the day she read the last page.
Me: So it was good?
Daughter: Mrrrahh! <– Indescribable sound of satisfaction.
Then she begins telling me about the the premise and I can tell before long she’s going to recount the entire book.
Me: Wait! Don’t tell me. I think I want to read this book.
Daughter: Okay, then you need to start today.
Daughter: If you don’t start reading it today, I’m going to tell you everything about this book.
Me: Okay. Okay. Okay.
What could I do? So I stopped reading Soft Apocalypse and began reading Ashes on November 3rd. My reading time is limited to the evenings, just before I go to sleep, so it usually takes me longer to finish a book. I’m also not a speed reader like my daughter. I should also point out that my daughter has never before threatened me in this way. On November 4th I recounted the above events on Twitter:
This made my day and my daughter’s too. So, as I said, every night I was reading Ashes. And almost every night my daughter asked me where I was in the book—another first and another indication she LOVED this book. I too was loving it. Last night I finished Ashes. You might have seen my three word review on Goodreads: Wow. Wow. Wow. I’ll now try to expound on that insightful review.
Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick
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. (via Goodreads)
Beware, there be spoilers ahead…
Ashes begins with a very short prologue in which the reader learns Alex (the main character) has brain cancer. I almost put the book down. In fact, I think that might have been all I read that first night. I had Cancer when I was seventeen (same age as Alex) and though it wasn’t brain cancer, I identified with her situation. So reading Ashes was a bit rocky in the beginning, but soon Cancer was the last thing on my mind. Soon all I was thinking was, Wow. Wow. Wow.
I’m continually amazed at how authors are changing zombies, creating something new when there are so many zombie books on the market. I’d give Ashes 5 stars just for its originality! But this book is about so much more than crazy, flesh eating kids. It’s about people, and what happens when society and laws break down. It’s about survival at all costs. It’s about humanity. Ashes, is another top YA book of the year. You must read it, but I promise I won’t threaten you!