Maja (The Nocturnal Library)'s Reviews > Ashes

Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick
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I hate having to review this book. I've spent the last 24 hours thinking about it, trying to figure out a way to point out the good and the bad, instead of just listing all the things that annoyed me. Here’s my conclusion: the only remotely fair thing to do is to write two separate reviews: one of the first and one of the second half of the book.

First half: ***** (five stars)
The first half of Ashes was one of the best things I’ve read recently, and that’s saying a lot! It was amazingly well written, fast paced, with interesting, layered characters and a compelling plot.
Alex is a 17-year-old girl with a brain tumor. She’s lost her parents a few years back and is now living with her aunt, but she spends most of her time in the hospital. At the beginning of Ashes, she is out of the hospital and has just decided not to do any more treatments, seeing as they are not helping her in any way. Instead, she chooses to go hiking in the wilderness. There she meets an old man and his granddaughter Ellie and shares a meal with them. Shortly after that, an EMP wipes out every electronic device and kills the old man in the process. That leaves Alex with the 8-year-old girl to take care of and some new abilities she doesn’t fully understand.
After only a short walk, the girls stumble upon two teenagers who are eating another human. It becomes pretty obvious that the EMP affected human brains as well as the electronic devices. But why then did Alex and Ellie remain unchanged?!
Ok, so we have a great plot, interesting characters, a subtle love story AND zombies eating intestants and gouging out people’s eyes. It’s no wonder we were all so thrilled. But then the second half came…

Second half: ** (two stars)
I can pinpoint the exact moment where it all went wrong. From the end of one chapter to the beginning of the next, everything changed. Ashes went from being amazing to being utterly unimaginative and even boring at times. I had to force myself to finish it. It picked up the pace again on the last 50 pages or so, but only to make the most horrible, cliffhanger ending possible.

Here are some of my problems with the book:
- Alex is 17, but she is far too skilled and mature for that to be believable, even more so because she's been very sick for a very long time. People who spend years in the hospital usually don’t know that much about surviving in the wilderness. She could have been book smart, sure, but building fires?!? I don't think so. She kept saying that her father taught her, but he was dead by the time she entered her teen years.
- I had the same problem with her knowledge of medicine. Apparently her mother was a doctor and they used to spend their time together stitching up chickens. Honestly, I don’t know a single teen or pre-teen that interested in his/her parent’s work.
- I hate cliffhanger endings, and this was the mother of them all! I don’t understand why authors feel the need to do that! A cliffhanger ending will make me less likely to read the next book, not more! And this particular author likes cliffhangers so much, she even ended a few chapters with them. When you end a chapter with a cliffhanger and start the next one with the words Three days later , you can count on losing a few readers.

Maybe Ilsa J. Bick is a pseudonym for two people, much like Ilona Andrews, only these two people don’t get along as well?!? I will still read the next book when it comes out, but I can’t say I’m too happy about it.

Michelle R., Wendy Darling and Bonnie have made this experience much better than it would have been without them. Thanks, girls!
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Reading Progress

06/23/2011
10.0% "Dead birds falling from the sky..."
06/23/2011
20.0% "I hadn't even known that there are zombies in this book when I requested it,, but somehow, I'm not surprised. Very bloody. :D Hurry up, Michelle and Bonnie." 1 comment
06/23/2011
50.0% "I'm having so much fun with this book!"
06/24/2011
60.0% "Definitely not a YA novel. It's very, very good though." 5 comments
06/24/2011 page 312
78.0% "Damn! Did it have to be that way?" 7 comments
06/24/2011 page 363
76.0% "How did this happen?"
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Comments (showing 51-62 of 62) (62 new)

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Michelle, the Bookshelf Stalker  Queen of the Undead Maja wrote: "I know, but we should think of a better name for it. We will in time. :D"

I did! I am now Michelle R, the Bookshelf Stalking Queen of the Undead!


Maja (The Nocturnal Library) Ok, it's official now! You are so cool, I don't even deserve to comment on the same thread as you! Pure and undiluted awesomeness, that's what you are.


Michelle, the Bookshelf Stalker  Queen of the Undead Maja wrote: "Ok, it's official now! You are so cool, I don't even deserve to comment on the same thread as you! Pure and undiluted awesomeness, that's what you are."

LOL! far from it! And lets get real, who is the one that never sleeps? Not I! What does that make you Maja? We may have the title on the wrong person!


Maja (The Nocturnal Library) I do sleep occasionally, you know! Like yesterday I fell asleep on the beach and burned my skinny ass! :D

But I am starting to lose the ability of speech and my memory is starting to suck. Do you think the change has started?! Should I be worried?! Even more important, should my neighbours be worried?!?

You are the one who discovered Feed and that, my dear, makes you the queen.


Michelle, the Bookshelf Stalker  Queen of the Undead Maja wrote: "I do sleep occasionally, you know! Like yesterday I fell asleep on the beach and burned my skinny ass! :D

But I am starting to lose the ability of speech and my memory is starting to suck. Do you ..."


Yes Feed did start it all! So, I must ask, how were you sleeping that your ass got burned? :P


Maja (The Nocturnal Library) Must you?!? :P On my stomach, obviously. My back hurts, too. But even worse, my Mom was with me (we're kind of friends, my mother and I - she's SO cool!) and she didn't want to wake me because she knew I was so tired. Pfff, thank you, Mom! :D


Michelle, the Bookshelf Stalker  Queen of the Undead Maja wrote: "Must you?!? :P On my stomach, obviously. My back hurts, too. But even worse, my Mom was with me (we're kind of friends, my mother and I - she's SO cool!) and she didn't want to wake me because she ..."

yes but at least your ass will be nice and tan once the burn disappears!


Sharon The ending pissed me off so much, that I went from 3 stars to 2. I'm so annoyed with Ashes. I'm tempted to rewrite it into a better book.


message 59: by Maja (The Nocturnal Library) (last edited Jul 03, 2011 09:35AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Maja (The Nocturnal Library) LOL, one of my friends already suggested that in her review. It's the only way to make this book acceptable. But that cliffhanger is what drove me crazy. I hate cliffhangers in general, but especially when it's the first installment.


Michelle, the Bookshelf Stalker  Queen of the Undead Oh you reminded me that I haven't reviewed this book yet. I am such a procrastinating reviewer.


Morrigan Actually, she didn't spend years and years in the hospital. From what I gather, her parents died when she was 14ish. They discovered the tumor at 15ish and now she's 17ish. There was plenty of time for her father to take her hiking and teach her survival skills.

I'm still reading. I just...it's turning so different from the first half.


Sofers I agree 100% with this review! First half = incredible. Second half= torture to read. I kept waiting for it to get good again but it never did!


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