Saturday, July 9, 2011

Ashes, Ashes by Jo Treggiari

Published: June 1st, 2011
Publisher: Scholastic
Pages: 341
Copy: Purchased
Summary: Goodreads

A thrilling tale of adventure, romance, and one girl's unyielding courage through the darkest of nightmares.

Epidemics, floods, droughts--for sixteen-year-old Lucy, the end of the world came and went, taking 99% of the population with it. As the weather continues to rage out of control, and Sweepers clean the streets of plague victims, Lucy survives alone in the wilds of Central Park. But when she's rescued from a pack of hunting dogs by a mysterious boy named Aidan, she reluctantly realizes she can't continue on her own. She joins his band of survivors, yet, a new danger awaits her: the Sweepers are looking for her. There's something special about Lucy, and they will stop at nothing to have her.

Does anyone know why the title of this book is significant? Some interpretations of the old nursery rhyme 'Ring around the roses,
A pocket full of posies,
Ashes, ashes,
We all fall down.
say that it came about during the great plague.  There are many different interpretations, but for the purposes of the book 'Ashes, Ashes' that one obviously seems the most significant.  Why, because the story is about the aftermath of serious global warming and a devastating outbreak of small pox, that kills 99% of the population.  Since I happen to be one of the people who is convinced this is how the world as we know it will end - with some kind of lethal disease -  I found this book particularly interesting.
This new post-apocalyptic story centres around Lucy, whom I found to be one of the most real characters I've read about in a while.  She is alone, scared and absolutely determined to survive, on her own if need be.  There is an interesting description of her trying to skin a turtle to make soup - it had me smiling and cringing at the same time.  If you're hungry enough, you'll try anything, right?
Ms Treggiari writes very descriptively and I found it easy to picture the scenes of devastation in my mind -
'She watched the mist swirl around her feet like a net. It reminded her of a nightmare, glue or quicksand trapping her as she tried to run.  She looked back.  The grove was in shadow.  The salt-poisoned pines looked like skeletal fingers.  The mudflats were as barren and pocked as the surface of the moon.   And still she would rather have been back there than walking across this bridge, the sound of their boots muffled yet loud in the silence.  There was a soft, strangling quality to the air.  It felt heavy and dank, and it suffocated her like a tangle of blankets wrapped around her head.' (page 260)
Can't you just feel it? When Aidan enters the picture it is a forgone conclusion that there is going to be some romance, but it didn't quite follow the normal pattern. Inevitable, yes, but not hurried or forced.  I enjoyed all the secondary characters, who each have their own very distinct personalities, Grammalie Rose and Sammy being two of my favourites.  There were not too many stereotypes, which was refreshing.
Ms Treggiari manages to keep the tension throughout the entire book, so that even when there are good days, which are few, there is still that feeling in the pit of your stomach - the one that tells you something bad is coming.  Very tense exciting and full of surprises, Ashes, Ashes  was a great read for me, and I'm sure other post-apocalyptic fans will agree.  I'm just wondering why I hadn't heard anything about it before I saw it in the book store.  Very glad I bought it and even though everything tied up nicely and it appears to be a stand-alone, I'm seriously hoping there will be a follow-up to this one.


  1. This does sound pretty interesting. I watched this movie when I was a kid I think it was called 'Water World' or something like that and it was about what the world might be like if all land was one day covered in water. I actually don't remember much about the movie except ever since I've been convinved that it would be how the world ends. Not that any of that has to do with the book...its just what your first paragraph brought to mind. Anyway this one does sound really good and I think its another one I'll have to add to my list. ^-^

  2. I remember that movie, Kevin Costner was in it - interesting idea, not such a great movie tho'. Wish I could say I was a kid when I watched it!