action, adventure, Caution: May not be appropriate for those under 13, End of the World, romance

Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick

Summary: Alex has known about her brain tumor for a long time. So when she goes up into the woods on a trip, she plans to defeat the Monster once and for all. What she doesn’t count on is for every single electronic on the planet to stop working, for people to suddenly drop dead, and for most teenagers to turn into savage cannibals, or for some, like Alex herself, to change into something else entirely.

(Okay, not the best summary in the world. The book has a much better summary if you want to look it up.)

I recommend this book for anyone over the age of 13. There is mention of sex/sexual behavior (although more later in the trilogy than in this specific book), and it is pretty gory.

I absolutely loved this book. I thought it was fantastically written, and that Bick chose the perfect way to not explain everything. One big problem that some people (not including myself, I have no problem with this whatsoever) is suspending their disbelief when reading a book or series. But the way this book’s plot works, you don’t necessarily have to. Bick never includes an explanation (as far as I know, but I haven’t finished the series yet) as to why the electronics, including the cars and basic appliances, stop working, or all the other strange things that happen. And the best part is that it works for the book. Because of the setting, and what with the electronics stop functioning and all, there is no way for the outside world to communicate with the main characters, and so there is no way for them to truly know what was going on. I personally thought it was genius on the author’s part.

I also loved the characters. My favorite is Tom, by a landslide, but I’ll get to him in a minute. Alex, my second favorite, although she’s in a tie with Ellie, is simply awesome. She’s a very strong character, but she’s not perfect. She complains, or has moments of weakness that made her seem very human. And I loved her new “ability” (no spoilers! I’m not getting into that). And Ellie, who bugged me at first, grew on me. I actually cared about what happened to her in the book (which is not to say that I don’t normally care about what happens to main characters, but Ellie was really obnoxious in the beginning. As I kept reading, I grew really fond of her). But Tom. Tom is by far my favorite character. I don’t really think I can explain why, but I’ll do my best. He’s just so…cool. He’s really smart about survival, and he’s not exactly the strongest person, but he really does care for Alex and Ellie, and does everything in his power to protect them. But at the same time, he wasn’t some arrogant fool or prince in shining armor (until the second book. Then he is a little bit of a prince in shining armor, but I’m not going to get into that).

They only thing that bothered me was that Bick cut out some of the action scenes. Not necessarily the fighting–there was plenty of that–but there were whole chunks missing from the book. (This isn’t necessarily an action scene but…)Take Kincaid, for example. Kincaid is introduced a little later in the first book, but he never actually gets introduced. One minute I was reading about just Alex, and the next there was suddenly this new character that should have been introduced earlier. So I went back and looked for the introduction, thinking maybe I’d just missed it. But I couldn’t find an introduction telling me who Kincaid was. And I didn’t find out until the next chapter, and even that didn’t actually tell me anything about him nor did it introduce him. And it drove me crazy. And it wasn’t just with Kincaid. There were multiple times when I found myself extremely confused because I didn’t remember something happening, but suddenly, there were the consequences, or there was a new person that I never read about and who, supposedly, Alex had met between pages.

But other than missing information, I really liked this book. (I’m already mid-second book, but had to stop because the last book in the Divergent Trilogy (titled Allegiant) just came out, so naturally, I had to put it down to read that.). I definitely recommend it to anyone who will read it.