From Debbie Wiley Book Reviews
by Ilsa J. Bick
would you do if the world suddenly plunged into darkness?
Alex has faced a lot of challenges in her young life. Escaping to the
woods of Michigan to decide how to handle her parents’ ashes and her
own growing brain tumor, Alex faces a new danger… an electromagnetic
pulse (EMP) changes the entire world, and not necessarily for the
better. Who are her friends and who are her enemies in this new world?
Why are some people changed for the worse, almost zombie-like in their
behavior? And what will all this mean for Alex’s own health?
Ilsa J. Bick’s apocalyptic tale packs a powerful, albeit haunting,
punch. The majority of the characters are quite engaging, even as more
questionable survival methods emerge. ASHES truly pares things down to
survival at its most basic core. Just what will a person do to continue
living in a world suddenly turned upside down? Alex thought she was
ready to die, that her brain tumor had beaten her, but the changed
world has her fighting for every single minute she can continue to live.
ASHES has several underlying themes, some more developed than others.
While the biblical theme is utilized in a very clever manner, I would
have liked to see a bit more balance. We see the aspect of patriotism
addressed through the eyes of a child, both in the idealization of a
soldier as well as the crushing reality that can occur. Catastrophes
bring out both the best and the worst, and Ilsa J. Bick utilizes this
to great effect. Thankfully, the inclusion of the dogs provides a sort
of continuity and glimpse of possible hope to the overall ominous
ASHES takes the traditional zombie tale and puts it in a believable
context. Alex’s one disbelief at the horrors she is now seeing in her
world add an air of authenticity to the story while her strong voice
keeps the reader hooked. Perhaps the greatest strength of the tale is
also its greatest weakness…. ASHES asks more questions than it answers.
This is particularly true with the conclusion of the book as ASHES ends
on what is both a stroke of pure genius and one of the most frustrating
and disturbing scenes I’ve ever read.
by Debbie, Debbie Wiley Book Reviews