Monday, 3 October 2011

Ashes by Isla J. Bick

by Isla J. Bick

Summary: Alex has run away and is hiking through the wilderness with her dead parents' ashes, about to say goodbye to the life she no longer wants to live. But then the world suddenly changes. An electromagnetic pulse sweeps through the sky zapping every electronic device and killing the vast majority of adults. For those spared, it's a question of who can be trusted and who has changed... Everyone still alive has turned - some for the better (those who acquired a superhuman sense) while others for the worse (those who acquired a taste for human flesh).

Desperate to find out what happened and to avoid the zombies that are on the hunt, Alex meets up with Tom - an Army veteran who escaped one war only to find something worse at home - 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 find food, shelter, while fighting off the 'Changed' and those desperate to stay alive. A tense and involving adventure with shocks and sudden plot twists that will keep teen and adult readers gripped.
So when I first started this book, I wasn’t very into it (the main character annoyed me, the story kind of bored me, the writing irritated me somehow)…but then it got good. And after it got good, it got really, really awesome and by the end I pretty much loved it and was ready to throw the book across the room in protest of the fact that it ended where it did and I didn’t have a sequel right there and then to read and find out what happened next.

The book kind of felt like it was split in two, almost like two different books even. The first half, while it got off to a rocky start with me, like I said, it got good - but what prevented me from loving that part was probably the fact that it didn’t feel too original. I read Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts last month and while the plots are different, they do have a couple of really similar elements to it that made reading that half of the book not feel entirely new to me - which wasn’t bad, it just lacked the novelty it would’ve had if I had read Ashes first.

The second half of the book though? That’s where things got interesting for me (and I found the novelty/sense of originality that the first half was lacking). There were times where it felt a bit too separate from the first half of the book (which I can’t really explain without spoilers so you’ll just have to read it and see) and some parts of it were a little slow but I was totally hooked and couldn’t put the book down when it got to that point in the book even though I pulled an all nighter to read it and my eyes were really starting to protest by the end.

I really liked the characters, they were very - human. Which is something I love about stories like this, how these post-apocalyptic stories show the best and worst in people and how people latch onto other people and care much faster and it’s more believable than those books with insta-love/insta-friendships that just don’t make sense.

I had issues with Alex at first, but I really liked her by the end and Tom was lovely. And Chris. And while Ellie had her bratty moments, I adored her too. Jess was the only character I kind of couldn’t stand (I’m not a fan of people who quote the Bible every other sentence or people who are annoyingly cryptic - she was both).

I mentioned that I wasn’t fond of the writing to begin with and that was because it seemed kind of heavy on pointless descriptions and details I really did not care about and didn’t seem relevant to the plot but again, that changed - I got sucked into the story and didn’t even notice the writing until I was putting scraps of paper in the book to mark pages with quotes I like (which there weren’t many of, granted, but there were a few and that doesn’t happen often with these kinds of books).

I've seen quite a few reviews say the book is scary but I didn't find it scary at all...but then, I'm not a very good judge of scare-factor because I'm kind of shamefully addicted to horror movies and the kinds of things that scare me are more along the lines of butterflies and spiders and the witch from the Wizard of Oz....

Anyway, enough of my rambling. Basically, the book was really awesome and I loved it and I will cry if there is not a sequel. I'm pretty sure it's the first in a trilogy though, so instead I will cry if there is a sequel but I need to wait a really long time for it. Because I really, really, really want to read a sequel now - it can’t end there, I need to know what happened to these characters.


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