Saturday, March 19, 2011

Review of Ashes

First of all, I have two guest blogs waiting to post but my computer won't let me cut and paste the text for some reason. If you are one of the guest reviewers, I apologize for the delay. I'm going to try from my home computer as soon as I have a free hour at home.

[cover image not available yet--stay tuned!]

Title: Ashes
Author: Ilsa J. Bick
Genre: Young Adult post-apocalyptic fiction
Publisher: Egmont USA
Release date: September 2011

This book was completely not what I was expecting. Although, rereading the back, I'm not sure why I was so surprised. The back cover reads:

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 first surprise was the writing. It seems like there are dozens of post-apocalyptic novels getting published these days, in the wake of The Hunger Games and The Maze Runner, and quality of writing is not always the first consideration. This book, though, is actually well-written. Ilsa J. Bick obviously has a vast knowledge of guns, wilderness survival, emergency medicine, and human biology, and her descriptions are detailed yet accessible. It's not all about the action, though--Alex's emotions are vivid and real.

The second surprise was the scope of the novel. This is no cookie-cutter action book, where monsters keep popping out of nowhere and the characters are running helter-skelter from one disaster to the next. There are quiet periods. A realistic amount of time passes. I was not exhausted and glad to be finished with the book when I came to the end. And the world is complex, well thought-out.

There is one similarity with other post-apocalypse novels: the cliffhanger ending. I should have been ready for it, since I was very clearly approaching the end with no resolution in sight, but I was still thrown for a loop. All in all, a pretty impressive start to an exciting new series.

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