Monday, September 24, 2012

Review: Ashes

Ashes, by Ilsa Bick. The GoodReads summary:
An electromagnetic pulse flashes across the sky, destroying every electronic device, wiping out every computerized system, and killing billions.

Alex hiked into the woods to say good-bye to her dead parents and her personal demons. Now desperate to find out what happened after the pulse crushes her to the ground, Alex meets up with Tom—a young soldier—and Ellie, a girl whose grandfather was killed by the EMP.

For this improvised family and the others who are spared, it’s now a question of who can be trusted and who is no longer human.

Author Ilsa J. Bick crafts a terrifying and thrilling novel about a world that could be ours at any moment, where those left standing must learn what it means not just to survive, but to live amidst the devastation.
So here’s the thing. I’m not much of a post-apocalyptic/dystopian fan, in general. There are one or two (i.e., Divergent) that I really like, but in general, they’re usually kinda meh for me. And at first I thought “Ashes” was going to prove me wrong. The first half or so of the book is awesome. Super intense and super suspenseful and, yes, super gory. And I was really diggin’ it. It was gruesome, but in a way that I weirdly admired. It fascinated me how possible it all seemed (well, minus the paranormal bit, obviously). I thought the way the world changes after the disaster came across as pretty realistic, and that made the story even more gripping. I really liked Alex and Ellie and Tom and how they become a family, and though I’m not much of an action fan, the fight scenes had me glued to the page.

But I thought the book lost momentum in the second half. I realize that the book can’t be all intense all the time, but I felt like the book went from full throttle to barely chugging along. And I kept hoping it would regain that momentum, but it never really did for me. Maybe it did a little the last 10 pages or so, but it wasn’t enough to win me back over. And I’d been hearing what a big cliffhanger the ending was, and in a way that’s true, but by that point I didn’t really care anymore so I was more like, “Hmm…That’s the ending?” rather than “OH MY GOSH. WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN???” like everyone else.

A kinda random nitpicky thing about this book that started bothering me was what a cynical view of humanity the book took. Yes, I believe that in an end-of-the-world situation people would get greedy and brutal, but this book took it a bit to the extreme. There was essentially no one who was ever kind just for kindness’s sake—everyone always had an ulterior motive—and I found it a little discouraging after a while.

Overall, this was a book that started off really strongly, in my opinion, but kinda ran out of steam. I know a lot of people really liked this book, but I just couldn’t bring myself to feel the same way.

Rating: 3.5 / 5


  1. Everyone seems to feel the same way about the second half of the book: "What happened? Why is it so different from the first half?" I've yet to read a single review that doesn't mention it. I didn't like the stuff in Rule, either, but I kept thinking there had to be a point to it. I'm going to read the sequel but if it's not as good as Ashes Part 1, I'm giving up on the series.

    Glad you enjoyed the gory stuff! It is sort of thrilling and addictive, even when it's grossing you out.

  2. The plot of this book so reminds me of that new TV series Revolution. Minus what sounds like zombies! I love a book with gore, although I don't know if the slowed down pace will keep me interested. Still, it's definitely one I'm willing to try.

  3. This just goes to show how very, very important pacing is. You gotta balance your slow parts and action parts, or things kind of fall apart. Great review!


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