Review: Ashes by Ilsa J Bick

Ashes 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.

Why i read it: Dystopian? Gore eating zombie teens?

Review: Ashes started off absolutely amazingly. The set up to the apocolyptic kind of event was fantastic, we meet two of our main characters, rough and ready Alex and spoiled 8 year old  Ellie and the event is set up then suddenly out of nowhere this electromagnetic pulse comes and the whole world is changed. I was gripped from the start, reading about Ellie and Alex's struggle. This book really had a really secluded tone to it, you can feel the fear from the characters because of the descriptions and the tone and that is really what I love about dystopians/apocalyptic book, how raw they are. In Ashes Bick tells it as it is - describing the gore and giving descriptions of the people eating human. It isn't too horrific though.

From page one I loved Alex, she was strong and tough and responsible but also not too kick-ass that she was unrelatable and Ellie was the perfect side character; almost like a mascot, she's spoiled and immature at times but in the end she comes down to this 8 year old who has seen things that no kid should see. Tom was also awesome, not perfect as he's suffering from post traumatic stress from fighting in Afghanistan, but he has a reason to be damaged and is believable. 
I didn't really like the way that Alex changed when Tom turned up, she went from this admirable and strong lead to this dependent girl putting all responsibility on Tom. However, I must admit that the subtle romance of the budding relationship sorts this out.

The issue is that about halfway through, this book goes from five stars to around two point five. Something happens and Alex ends up on her own in this weird cult-y village that wants to use her to repopulate the Earth (or something like that). Bick introduces a new cast of characters here and I struggled to get my head around who was who and what was what. There is a noticeable absence of Ellie and Tom in this part and I kept hoping that they would suddenly turn up, because they are really what made the story for me. The writing also becomes rushed and confusing here, and I found myself rereading passages to try and make sense of it.

The ending becomes fast-paced again, and I was totally dumb-struck by the ending - I had not been expecting that! The ending saved the book for me - I was almost ready to throw my laptop (which I was reading it on) across the room and cry about that middle bit ruining the read for me. I'm totally grabbed again and will definitely be reading the sequel!

Overall, Ashes started off fantastically and had me gripped until about half the way through, there are then about one hundred and fifty pages where the pace totally drops and I was bored. The last thirty pages pick back up again. I'd still recommend this book, but not if you're after something fast paced and gripping.

Overall Rating: C+ 
(First half A, Second half D)

Stand Alone/Series: First in a series
Release Date: (US September 6th, UK September 29th)
Publisher: (US Egmont, UK Quercus)
Book received as an eGalley for review from NetGalley


  1. Aw, it's such a shame the second half ruins it all! I hate it when that happens - glad the ending picks up again though. Think I'll probably still read this, but I'll keep your review in mind! Thanks! :)

  2. I got this from Netgalley but then forgot that I had it! This review has really prompted me to get going on it- sounds intriguing!


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