Saturday, August 27, 2011

Ashes by Ilsa J Bick

Published: Sept. 6th, 2011
Publisher: Egmont, USA
Pages: 480
E-Copy: Courtesy of Netgalley and Publisher
Summary: Goodreads

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.

When I started reading 'Ashes' I was thinking I would just give it a few pages more since it wasn't really capturing my attention - I wasn't sure where it was going. Then BAM ....everything hits the fan and the story takes off, with things going from bad, to worse, to worst.  I was absolutely enthralled by the book and felt an almost visceral fear as I was reading.  It seems so very plausible, and therefore so much more disturbing.
The story revolves around Alex and her experiences after the 'event'.  Alex has a handicap, not a physical one, but a medical one, and this affects her way of thinking.  She meets up with Ellie,  an irritating 8 yr old, and Tom, a  very self sufficient soldier and together they try to make sense of what has happened and to cope through the winter.  Each of these characters is well rounded and well written and it is easy to believe in their struggles.  A variety of other characters flit in and out of the story and we are constantly hoping that the situation will improve for Alex, Ellie and Tom.  There are some wild surprises and surprising characters that will leave your heart pounding.

I have wondered occasionally how I would cope if there were some kind of apocalyptic event. Would I be calm and sensible, or would I fall apart? Would I be able to adjust to a new world? 'Ashes' asks just that question. How do we cope in extreme adversity? What would happen to society when everything we know has gone?

Ms. Bick gives us a very intriguing answer to that question. She writes in such a way that you almost become part of the action.  There is small hope, huge despair and struggle and an almost palpable sense of dread - with no end in sight,  but the need to turn each page and find out how the characters cope is so compelling that it was physically hard to put the book (or ereader in this case) down.  It's an exciting  and incredibly gripping book and has easily become one of my favourites for the year. I am anxiously waiting for the follow-up, although I suspect this will be quite some time arriving as 'Ashes' isn't published until next month.  Thanks again to Egmont for the opportunity to read this marvellous book.

Gramatical changes made at 12.30 am Aug 29th.

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