Book Review: Ashes by Ilsa Bick
Alex is camping in the mountains, carrying her parents ashes and hoping to finally find a place of peace, when a strange EMP goes off. She has no idea what is happening, but suddenly her cell phone doesn’t work. She runs into an older man and a younger child when the man suddenly drops dead before her. She doesn’t know it yet, but there are a lot of dead people now. And those that don’t die . . . well, she will find out what happens to them soon enough.
Ashes is an interesting take on the zombie novel. Everyone between the ages of 20 and 60 has died, for some reason the old have survived and the young have been turned into zombies. Alex is a rare breed now, a teen that didn’t turn. Who knew that brain tumor would come in
Alex finds travelling companions in the young girl with the dead grandpa and a soldier who is probably AWOL from the war, Tom. For a while, Ashes is your standard, though well written and thrilling, ZA fare with a group of strangers wandering the wilderness trying to find food and shelter while trying to not get dead. Tom and Alex are falling in love and all is well and then, bam, they mess up their basic mission: don’t get dead – kinda.
Here, Ashes takes an interesting twist as Alex goes to get help and finds herself a “guest” of a colony of survivors who are kind of cult like in the way they operate. It’s easy to be lured in by the warm clothes and food and the perimeter security. But sometimes a good thing is in fact too good to be true and Alex must decide what she is willing to sacrifice in order for her “safety.”
Ashes is a really good read and a welcomed addition to the zombie reads fold. It is set up for a sequel but I am not going to lie, I wish it just ended where the first book does because that seems like such a profound ending for a zombie apocalypse. People would go missing and you would never find out what happened to them. I found the ending to be so compelling with the way it just hangs there in the air.
Alex is a strong character with a strong personality. Because everyone in teen fiction seems to fall in love with two guys these days, she gets 2 love interests. Although the relationship with Chris in the colony is kind of, complicated. Like all great dystopian fiction this is a thoughtful look at what it takes to survive and how we choose to recreate our world. The stuff that happens in the colony is perhaps more terrifying than the actual zombie infested world outside. This is a good read, check it out. 4 out of 4 stars.
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About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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