Jennifer Ellision's Reviews > Ashes

Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick
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Apr 27, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: young-adult, post-apocalyptic, read-in-2012, arc-trade, reviewed
Read on April 21, 2012

Posted to Almost Grown-up:

I’m going to start my review of Ashes by saying this:

WOW.

I could not be happier that Ashes was the book that I used to kick off Dewey’s 24 hour readathon. I was instantly drawn in to Ashes. The novel opens on a scene that feels almost bittersweet. Our main character, Alex, is terminally ill with cancer and is off on a last hike to spread her parents ashes, having decided to live out the remainder of her life without treatment. She speaks with her aunt on the drive up and their conversation and Alex’s ruminations brought a sad smile to my face.

Then Ilsa Bick hit me with a blow, ending the chapter by letting me know that things would not have a happy ending. In a twisted way, that was one of my (many) favorite aspects of the book. Right when I think “Oh, okay, this is kind of happy, and relax a teeny bit,” Ilsa Bick STEALS my relaxation away, letting me know with one chapter-ending statement that it won’t be okay and it won’t be happy. It’s a little masochistic of me- but I loved that.

Bick manages to develop multiple characters in Ashes. There’s Ellie who starts off as a brat that I can’t STAND, even if I was trying to understand what she was going through, and turns into this poor little girl that I just thought needed a hug. There’s more to Tom than initially appears and finally of course, there’s our main character in Ashes.

Alex goes from being resigned to death to being desperate for life and she is so smart that she’s a heroine I can totally respect. And love in an I-want-to-be-BFFs-and-have-her-teach-me-wilderness-ways kind of way. Alex, take me camping please. My indoor-oriented self could never handle it without a seasoned pro like you.

The most incredible thing about Ashes to me? How friggin’ gritty it was. Things are atmospheric and chilling. There’s this sort of stark realization that they’ve basically lived through the damn APOCALYPSE and honestly they’re kind of worse off for it. Society is all but non-existent and when a semblance of society is finally found… it’s dystopian and leaves a lot to be desired, but it is unfortunately the best option for those who want to survive.

Overall rating: 5/5. Incredible, gritty and thrilling. Ashes is an amazingly intense post-apocalyptic novel.
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