By Ilsa J. Bick
Egmont, $17.99, 465 pages
Seventeen-year-old Alex hikes into the wilderness with the ashes of her parents. Alex plans to end her life, as she’s dying of a brain tumor and tired of dealing with the symptoms and heartbreak of failed treatment. When she comes across 8-year-old Ellie and her grandfather, she plans to continue along her way. But when an electromagnetic pulse flashes across the sky, destroying all electronic devices (including the grandfather’s pacemaker), she ends up taking care of Ellie. They meet up with Tom, a young soldier, and eek out survival in the wild, desperate for news from the outside world.
Unsure of whom they can trust, as the pulse turned some people into zombies, they decide to leave the safety of the wilderness to seek out fellow survivors.
Ashes is split into two distinct sections, the first in the wild and the second in the post-apocalyptic world outside. Both compelling and scary, the novel will appeal to fans of novels such as The Hunger Games or The Stand. As the main character, Alex is tough but fragile, and the secondary characters are nuanced. This is the first novel in a trilogy, complete with a cliffhanger ending. The second novel, Shadows comes out in 2012.
“The pain was fire, a laser that scorched her brain. A sudden metallic chattering bubbled in her ears, and her vision sheeted first red and then glare-white, and then she was stumbling, her feet tangling, and she fell. Something wet and hot spurted from her throat and dribbled down her chin.”
Reviewed by Kelly Garrett