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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Review: Ashes (Ashes Trilogy #1) by Ilsa J. Bick

Publisher: Egmont
Published: September 6, 2011
Pages: 480
Source: Goodreads First Reads
Rating: 3 Stars - I Liked It

It could happen tomorrow... 
A cataclysmic event. An army of "The Changed." 
Can one teen really survive on her own? 
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.

In short: Though I disliked the last third of Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick, the first two thirds provided an intense, action-packed post-apoc/zombie thriller with great characterization.
Ashes is the latest post-apocalyptic/zombie book, this time featuring an electromagnetic pulse that kills some people, spares some people, and changes others into zombies. Alex, an orphan with a brain tumor, is one of the spared. With that background, she is already one tough girl and her nature aids her greatly in the new post-apocalyptic world. She joins eight year old survivor, Ellie, and love interest, Tom, as they start up a new family and try to survive in a world overrun by brutal zombies.

I loved the first two thirds of Ashes, which were intensely action packed and frighteningly haunting, if perhaps a bit derivative of many other post-apoc/zombie reads. Ilsa J. Bick has a real talent for setting up and describing extensive, heart-thumping action and fight scenes. The pacing was incredibly fast-paced. Another thing that Ilsa J. Bick excelled at were her characters and character relationships. I loved reading about Alex, Ellie, Tom, and their little makeshift family together. The characters all had well developed histories and genuine characters. All in all, I would give the first two thirds of Ashes a strong 4 Stars.

It's the last third of Ashes where things go wrong. There is a development that happens that, while interesting, slowed the pacing considerably. While the first two thirds were nonstop action, the last third introduces a completely new environment, new information, and a new love interest. It felt like a completely different book. It was just odd, anti-climatic, and frustrating. The last third seemed better suited to be the beginning of the sequel to Ashes. It's a shame because I felt Ashes had such a good thing going with the first two thirds.

Overall, while I wouldn't say the last third of Ashes ruined the book for me, I wasn't pleased with the halt in the pace. If the plot development in the last third had taken place earlier in Ashes or at the beginning of the sequel, I would have welcomed it as an interesting and original idea.

Word of warning: If you are someone who dislikes brutal animal violence (there is a very graphic scene involving a zombie murdering a dog), love triangles (the second love interest is introduced very late in the book), or cliffhanger endings (this one had absolutely no resolution), then I would be wary of Ashes.

Other Reviews:
All of Everything
Tracy's Happy Bookshelf

Author Links:

*The Letter A is the A-Z Reading Challenge


  1. Great review! One thing I love about reading and books is that there is something for everyone. And everyone comes away from a book with their own feelings and interpretations. It's fun to read others reviews on books that you loved and see their thoughts. :0)

  2. ahh I don't know if this book is for me. I have promised myself not to go near a zombie/scary book again. Being a reader, I think we're all susceptible to getting more nightmares or reading-related dreams, since our imagination tends to go above and beyond sometimes! LOL. I might just skip this.

  3. Hey! I just posted a review for this book. lol

    I agree that the last third of the book would have been better off in the beginning of the second book. Sadly, I sort of lost interest in the story by the end, but maybe - by the time the second book is released - I'll have a renewed interest.

    Great review! :)

  4. I'm starting this one next but it sucks that the last third disappointed you. I want my books to get better rather than worse :( I don't like the sound of that new love interest at all.

  5. Hmm, I've seen this one around, but I've never actually read any reviews for it. I would expect the ending of a book to be more action-packed than the first two-thirds. We'll see... Thanks for the review, Aylee.

  6. I've heard a lot of people say they didn't like the last few chapters of this book - the last third is the bit that has me wary. I'm not a huge fan of love triangles or cliffhangers, but the story does sound interesting, so may still give this a go at some point, though probably not for a while. Thanks for the great review :).

  7. I want to read this. It looks and sounds good but I don't do violence or zombies.

  8. The second part of the story was so sudden and honestly it was frustrating, but I guess I was a little more forgiving than you :P Do you think you would pick up the sequel? That ending was a doozy you gotta admit!

  9. The last paragraph of your review is pretty much screaming at me: DON'T READ THIS BOOK!

    so you know, thanks for that, aylee! :D i have wayyy to many books to read, and it helps to cross out the ones i'm mostly positive are not for me :)

  10. Tracy: Yes, I agree. I love reading reviews that have viewpoints that differ from my own. Like your review for Wither which differed from mine. Not everyone is going to have the same opinion on something and that's a good thing!

    Jillian: Interesting, I've never really thought about it before but I suspect you're right. But I kind of like being scared sometimes! It's fun :) Though not for everyone.

    Jessica: I don't think I've given up on it either. I think I'll check out the sequel and see where that goes. I think it has potential, even if I'm wary of the weird pacing.

    Zahida: Yeah, it was a bummer because the pacing should really get more and more intense over the course of the book, not slow down. I was annoyed that the new love interest was introduced so late in the story... he was a'ight, I guess.

    Hafsah: You would expect and hope for that, yes. It does pick up in the last few pages... only to end with a major cliffhanger! Argh!

    Liz: I would definitely recommend giving it a go. You might find that you enjoy it a lot more. I can think of a few bloggers who absolutely loved this one so maybe you would too, if you got past the love triangle and cliffhanger.

    Juju: Heh, well there's a lot of violence and zombies in this one so perhaps you ought to pass.

    Laura: I was almost able to forgive, like you, because the first part was pretty good but not quite. That is one thing about cliffhangers: as frustrating as they are, they do make you want to pick up the sequel! So yes, I think I probably will.

    Aleeza: Aw, there were some very good parts to it so sorry if I dwelled too much on that last paragraph. But yeah, if any of those things are pet peeves for you, then maybe Ashes isn't your thing. Especially if you have a bazillion other books to read.

  11. I was with you all the way up until you said zombie book. LOL


    This review is extremely helpful. I'm not one for notable shifts in the story. You lose the authenticity and getting pulled out of what enchanted you in the first place is not fun.

    Thanks for the word or warning. Those are definitely not things I want to read about.

  12. Rats! This one looked kind of interesting to me, but might be too gory for my tastes.

    Thanks for the honest review.

  13. I didn't know this had zombies in it! I knew it was apocalyptic. I love zombie books...however I do like them when they are fast-paced. Thanks for the heads up on the last part of the book. I received this one for review. I can't wait to see if I feel the same way about it. Great review!

  14. Oh no! =( I hate it when the story sucks towards the end but is so awesome in the beginning. I am glad that you at least enjoyed the beginning though. =)

  15. Hm. That's so strange that suddenly a switch gets flipped at the last third and things change completely. I can honestly say that would frustrate me a bit, especially the introduction of a new love interest so late. That coupled with the brutal dog murder is giving me a bit of pause with this one. Thanks for the thorough review Aylee!

  16. Graphic brutal animal violence is definitely not something I can handle. Thanks for having such an honest review, I think I will skip this one :)

  17. Missie: Heh, I know you're team vampire but zombies aren't all that bad! The shift in the story was just so odd. It was definitely an interesting direction, but coming right at the end, it definitely pulled me out of the story. You're welcome about the word of warning.

    Madigan: Heh, yup gore pretty much goes along with all zombie books, methinks.

    Julie: The first part of the book was super fast paced and had lots of run-ins with zombies... the second part, slow pace and no zombies. I'll be interesting to hear your thoughts on this one!

    Bailey: I know, it had such a good thing going... and then it changed tracks completely. Oh well.

    Jenny: It was strange. Funny thing is, I would've welcomed it at a different time but right at the end, it really didn't work for me. The new love interest didn't work for me and the brutal dog murder REALLY didn't.

    Nice: Yeah, it's strange... for some reason I'm okay with and even welcome zombie violence to humans... but with animal violence it's just different.

  18. Thanks for the warning! All three of those things are definitely not favorites to find in a book. :)

  19. It's so frustrating when books change on you just to try and deliver a killer ending. When it doesn't work it's soooo disappointing. Thanks for the warning on the dog murder, too. I will steer clear of this one.

  20. Yup, I'm waiting on this one. I don't know if I'll ever read it (poor puppy!) but I know I'm not starting it now until the other books are published.

  21. Jennifer: No, definitely not for me either. I used to be more easygoing about love triangles and cliffhangers but I find they annoy me now.

    Logan: The thing is, the final section would've been really cool I think if it had occurred at a different part in the book... it just didn't work for the ending. Too slow and too much exposition.

    Small: It might not be too bad to read back to back... the odd pacing might not be as apparent if you can launch right into the next book.

  22. I love this cover, even though it totally freaks me out! *hides*

    Also, I’m a new follower—wonderful blog! Stop by my blog and follow me too? :) http://rachelbrookswrites.blogspot.com/

  23. I loved, loved, loved Ashes! I'm sorry that the last third of the book kind of ruined it for you. I actually enjoyed the plot twist, and I felt even more immersed in the story that way. Plus, it was nice to see a new environment. What a crazy ending!!! I really liked how Bick kept my fear and curiosity piqued throughout the entire book though, and I can't wait to see more in Shadows!!! Thanks for the honest review Aylee!

  24. Tessa: I thought the plot twist was actually a really interesting one, very unique. I just thought it's placement at the end to be odd. Unfortunately, it just didn't work for me. I'm looking forward to Shadows too!