Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Alex is a seventeen-year-old girl with enough problems - dead parents, an inoperable brain tumor, and few happy memories - that the end of the world might well seem like welcome respite. But after the EMP leaves the world without electricity and electronic devices, leaves Alex stranded on a fictional Michigan mountain with winter just around the corner, she finds herself fighting to live (along with her survival mates and makeshift family) after all.
I really enjoyed this book, pushed through its 450+ pages in about a week, with a busy family event taking up my weekend. The nature of the dystopia - a warfare-based EMP pulse causing technological and nuclear meltdown, the death of an entire generation and a terrifying Change in another - seemed plausible enough to give me the creepy-crawlies. Alex and her fellow survivors all seemed very real to me, their personalities broad and complex, not overly simplified and stereotypical as so often happens in young adult fiction.
Ashes (both a title and a theme which is mentioned *almost* too many times in the first hundred or so pages), is already split into three sections, but it could almost be two separate books. There is a major shift about halfway through and the plot changes so drastically that I can't even really discuss it without giving away the first half. I will say that there seems to be some sort of deeper plan in that second half that evaded me. I'm hoping it's made clear in the second book of the trilogy.
I'm actually a little disappointed that I came across this book before its publication, because that means I'll be waiting even longer for the next one to be released. The cliffhanger ending of Ashes definitely has me already eager for Shadows. Well, maybe I'll get access to that one early, too.
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