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The Apocalypse does not end. The Changed will grow in numbers. The Spared may not survive.

Even before the EMPs brought down the world, Alex was on the run from the demons of her past and the monster living in her head. After the world was gone, she believed Rule could be a sanctuary for her and those she’d come to love.
But she was wrong.

Now Alex is in the fight of her life against the adults, who would use her, the survivors, who don’t trust her, and the Changed, who would eat her alive.

Welcome to Shadows, the second book in the haunting apocalyptic Ashes Trilogy: where no one is safe and humans may be the worst of the monsters.

518 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2012

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About the author

Ilsa J. Bick

63 books1,584 followers
Among other things, I was an English major in college and so I know that I'm supposed to write things like, "Ilsa J. Bick is ." Except I hate writing about myself in the third person like I'm not in the room. Helloooo, I'm right here . . . So let's just say that I'm a child psychiatrist (yeah, you read that right)as well as a film scholar, surgeon wannabe (meaning I did an internship in surgery and LOVED it and maybe shoulda stuck), former Air Force major—and an award-winning, best-selling author of short stories, e-books, and novels. Believe me, no one is more shocked about this than I . . . unless you talk to my mother.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,135 reviews
Profile Image for karen.
3,968 reviews170k followers
October 2, 2018

yup - three stars. and i am angry at having to give this book three stars, because i was so looking forward to it! life is unfair.

okay - here are my gripes.

if you are planning on reading this one - do yourself a favor: review ashes. trust me. do you remember every single person alex encountered in rule? i sure didn't. and there are so damn many of them. and so many additional characters. here you go, just from a quick flipping of pages of shadows: jed, grace, tom, ray, ruby, leopard, acne, sharon, jess, spider, lena, chris, finn, peter, davey, tyler, lang, mather, weller, seth, kincaid, nathan, yeager, wolf, ernst, greg, john, slash, cindi, luke, mellie, daniel, etc etc etc. seriously - that is just way too many characters and way too many perspectives. books like infinite jest can have that many characters because they are long and dense and the author can handle that many discrete narratives without breaking a sweat. this one is 518 pages of over-margined and -spaced pages, so it is a shorter 518 than it should be, and not enough space for all of those stories to have adequate breathing room.also, i read ashes ages ago, so the nuances of relationships were long gone, except for the major players. mira grant is really good when it comes to reminding you about her characters and re-establishing characteristics, but this book (and insurgent fell victim to this, too) forgets that we have been reading other books in the meantime - in the year or so since the first book was out and we could use the gentle hand of the author to guide us. and i understand that that can bog down a story, but there is a way to do it well, and it is extremely helpful to readers.

if i remember correctly, ashes was told solely through alex's eyes, and it was cohesive and the story moved ahead at a breakneck pace, which is what you want in a book like this.

this one was much slower for me, because i had to keep stopping and trying to remember who this person was, and what their deal was, and every time the "view" changed, i would have to regroup. and i am perfectly capable of reading a book from multiple viewpoints, but considering how strong alex's voice was in the first book, to have it missing for nearly half of this one,and to have all these other characters giving their stories... it was disconcerting.

the first third or so of this book was sublime - if you appreciate violence. i could not believe the amount and caliber of the violence here. i'm not going to list any of it here, because i know sensitive eyes are watching, but - woah. good, gory stuff. loved it.so far from the sanitized, glossed YA books of my youth - when we had to read stephen king to get our fixes for arterial spray.

this one does not disappoint in the bloodshed.

and it also includes a "trapped-under-the-ice" scene, which is something that never fails to terrify the pants off me. i don't go anywhere near ice, man. not even in my beverages. because somehow, i could fall into my lemonade and become trapped. it could happen.

i guess i just feel sad about this book. with ashes, i was the 1%. most people were turned off when the action left the woodsy bits and changed into a different kind of horror novel involving the horror of human evil instead of the supernatural, even though there was still plenty of supernatural.but i was thrilled!i loved the turn and saw it as a logical progression. this one blends the two pretty well; it is a deeper exploration of the moral frailties of man, and it is quite good in some places, but unfortunately, it is strongest in that first third, and then bloats out into too many different stories for my taste, when i was expecting the same level of "rarrrr! i love every single page!" i was feeling in ashes.

there is no way i am not going to read the third book, but i am hoping hoping hoping that shadows is just flawed in the way that many middle-book-in-a-trilogy books are frequently flawed, and it will triumphantly return to the glory that this one-percenter saw in ashes.


come to my blog!
Profile Image for Anagha Uppal.
185 reviews58 followers
Want to read
December 30, 2011
AAAAHHHH What kind of a cliffhanger end is that (Ashes)???? I need to read this RIGHT NOW or I will pull my hair out!
Profile Image for Delee.
243 reviews1,092 followers
August 14, 2014
This was such a hard book for me to review...

I have to say I was kind of disappointed with SHADOWS- the second book in Ilsa Bick's Ashes trilogy. Book one- Ashes -was told only through Alex's view. SHADOWS is through multiple points of view: Alex, Tom, Lena, Chris, and Peter. There are soooooooooo many people to keep track of- the main characters are split apart at different locations trying to find one another, or thinking the other is dead. It is aaaallll veeeeeeeeeery confusing.

There is so much going on in SHADOWS:

Alex- has left the Rule, and is being held captive by Wolf, Acne, Spider, Slash and Beretta- a group of "changed"

Tom- is being hidden and cared for by Jed and Grace- a lovely older couple living in Wisconsin.

Lena- is still in the Rule and feeling sick.

Chris- has been injured after going into the Zone in search of Alex.

Peter- is being shot at.

...and that is just the beginning.

 photo c3e83de8-da01-4472-8975-f637990ad9c3_zps58374931.jpg

I said this in my review for Ashes as well. Do yourself a favor and read the trilogy all at once...or make sure you at least go back and skim Ashes before diving into this one. It is impossible to keep everyone -and where they are- straight without some sort of refresher.

This also may be helpful to you. I unfortunately didn't find it until after I read SHADOWS.


Anyone thinking of giving up on the Trilogy -book three- Monsters is much better...in my humble opinion.

Profile Image for Sara.
146 reviews18 followers
Shelved as 'might-read-sequel'
August 28, 2012
I'm still recovering from the bitter disappointment of the last 200 pages of the first book Ashes. I'll probably read this second installment, hoping, praying, it will be as great as the first half of its prequel. Sadly, not holding my breath though.
Profile Image for Justine.
1,103 reviews294 followers
February 2, 2020
2.5 stars

I have some mixed feelings about this second book in the Ashes Trilogy. The story continues to unfold at a fast clip, but it felt like it started to lose some focus.

While the use of short, episodic chapters that worked so well in Ashes continued to keep the the pace up, because Shadows follows so many different people, that same format made the story feel less cohesive. Things jump around very quickly, making it difficult in some parts to really engage with what was happening to a particular person.

Also, it is extremely violent and gory. Ashes definitely had its moments, but Shadows takes things to a whole new level. I don't necessarily have a problem with this, but I didn't feel like I was quite prepared for it going in.
Profile Image for Katrina Passick Lumsden.
1,775 reviews12.9k followers
January 19, 2013
I loved Ashes, the first book in this trilogy. Loved it. It's a great apocalypse book. It's exciting, suspenseful, romantic, has an intriguing plot and cool twists, a pretty cool heroine, an awesome hero, a cool little sidekick....

So when I finished reading Shadows two nights ago and was so pissed off I could barely see straight, that was a rather huge disappointment. I've calmed down since and the urge to write Ilsa J. Bick a letter and demand an apology on behalf of the fans of Ashes has passed, but the crushing disappointment remains.

It's pretty typical for the second book in a trilogy to suck serious goat raisins since it's generally used as nothing more than filler. In the first book you get all the build up, the character introductions, the unfolding of the plot, the first peak at some twists, etc. The second book is just a holdover, a rest stop that is employed as a means for the author to make more money, create more fever for the ending, all of the above...whatever. Because it is a rest stop, the second book is generally pretty slow and pointless. I have lost count of how many second-book-in-a-trilogy eye rolls I've personally executed merely because I got to the end and realized there was absolutely no point, it was just the author stringing me along. However, generally the second book is boring. Nothing happens, nothing that matters anyway, there aren't any major upheavals or twists, no exclamations or lightbulb moments, just the characters acting even more dumb and angsty than usual while they sit around waiting for the reader to get to the third book. Shadows wasn't boring. It wasn't slow. In fact, it was the complete opposite. Ilsa J. Bick can't be accused of writing a book where nothing happens because she instead chose to write a book where every bad thing you could possibly imagine happening...happens! Yeah, I know it's the end of the world and there are these weird zombie young'uns and lots of gore and horrific circumstances, but seriously, this reads like....like Murphy's Law times a thousand. It doesn't end. There's no reprieve from any of it.

On top of that, it jumps all over the place. In Ashes, we mostly stuck with Alex and Tom, but in Shadows, we're all over the place. Nearly every new chapter is a switch of voice, and sometimes it's a character we've never even been introduced to before. I appreciate keeping the reader on his/her toes, but this got confusing, even for me. Even if it was a character from the first book, it's been so long since I read that one that I couldn't even keep them straight. Nothing bogs down a story for a reader quite like wondering "who the fuck is this person, and where the fuck did he come from?!"

My biggest complaint, however, is the same complaint I have for roughly 98% of all the other book-twos out there; when characters I liked from the first book suddenly decide that being smart is no longer an option. I loved Tom in the first book. In this book, he's an absolute moron. Perhaps the near-death experience left him partially brain dead, I don't know, but when he repeatedly gets himself into situations that nearly kill him merely because he's too damn stupid to pick up on something that is staring him right in the face....

Wow, I guess I wasn't as chilled out as I thought.

I expected more from this author and this series.
Profile Image for May.
Author 9 books8,630 followers
August 8, 2015

Sombras es la segunda parte de la trilogía Cenizas que comenzó con la novela que lleva el miso nombre. Es una trilogía post-apocalíptica con una ambientación interesante y que trata el tema de los zombies. La primera parte me gustó basante, me pareció una noela trepidante y con una trama interesante. Sin embargo, esta segunda parte da un giro y cambia la narración y el rumbo de la historia. Decae mucho en ritmo y en todo en general, y es por eso que me ha decepcionado.
Sombras es una segunda parte que retoma la historia donde la dejó Cenizas. Pero está contada diferente porque ya no se centra en el personaje de Álex sino que ha tres o cuatro historias paralelas que poco a poco se van entrelazando. No me gustó esta manera de narrar porque la autora cambiaba rápidamente de protagonistas y no quedaba natural, sino más bien era una forma de narrar forzada y que mostraba que necesitaba ampliar las líneas narrativas para no dejar vacía a la segunda parte.
Más bien Sombras me ha parecido una novela bastante vacía y que da círculos alrededor de lo mismo hasta el final. El primer tercio de la novela está bien porque es original y no aburre, sin embargo, comienza a decaer y termina teniendo un ritmo flojísimo y una trama bastante aburrida.
Además es una novela demasiado larga para la historia que cuenta y eso también influye en el ritmo e impacta en la sensación que tiene el lector a lo largo de la lectura. Por no hablar de que hay personajes, tramas y capítulos que sobran por todos lados. Son totalmente irrelevantas y solo entorpecen la lectura.
Los personajes siguen sin convencerme en esta novela, no veo evolución en ninguno de ellos y siguen siendo planísimos. Los personajes que se suman también son planos y los odie en general porque me sobraban en la trama.
En resumen, Sombras es una segunda parte que decae en todo en general, que me ha decepcionado bastante y que se ha salido mucho de la línea de la primera parte. No me ha convencido y espero que mejore en la tercera parte.
Profile Image for Lydia.
63 reviews
December 30, 2012
Premise: After the ending of the first book, Ashes, I was looking forward to finding out more about the Changed kids and how exactly they had Changed. I also really wanted to know if Tom, Ellie and Alex would find each other again.

Characters: The problem with this book is that there are so many characters in this one and it leapfrogs between the POV of each one of them. Whereas Ashes was told from Alex's perspective and had a clear line of development, in Shadows there is so much jumping around that character and plot development is almost painfully slow and disjointed, and it's easy to get confused. Despite Alex being the main character last time, she has little attention in this book . The only positive thing I can say about the POV-hopping is that it gives the reader a better insight into Tom, and I felt more connected with him as a character. The rest of the characters are switched between so rapidly and have such brief sections that they are barely worth being there at all, . As for one of the main characters in the first book, Ellie, we don't even hear anything from her except a tantalizing suggestion at the very end.

Plot: Compared to Ashes, which was exciting and scary (at least in the first half), Shadows has a very confused plot. In the second book, Bick increases the horror to a whole new level - it is far more grisly and brutally disturbing, especially the sections concerning the lifestyle of the Changed, who behave like cannibalistic Neanderthals who know how to use guns. Aside from these parts, the plot bounces around so much it seems like hardly anything happens up until the climax, which isn't very satisfying either. The story is very Rule-centric with little information actually given about the actual intentions of other characters such as the militia. What was going on in Rule and which people knew what was very unclear.

Other Comments: While I had thought Bick to be a very good writer after reading Ashes, Shadows came as a big disappointment. This time Bick is far too fond of repeating phrases such as 'arabesques' of snow and people 'arming' blood from their faces, as well as continually spoiling the tense moments of action by saying things like 'later, when she had done this, Alex would think about this moment'. It was very unnecessary and very irritating. I only hope that the third and final book returns to the quality of the first.
Profile Image for Schokigirl.
344 reviews37 followers
August 20, 2017
Mit den verschiedenen Sichtweisen bin ich langsam klar gekommen. Ich weiß aber nicht was ich von Alex neuen Fähigkeiten halten soll. Es hat mich aber wieder gut unterhalten. Deshalb 4 Sterne.
Profile Image for Marta Álvarez.
Author 14 books5,757 followers
August 22, 2015
Muchísima acción, mucha tensión... Pero me daba sensación de que era sangre por sangre, la trama no avanzaba apenas, y cuando lo hacía no me enteraba de nada... Las últimas 100 páginas mejoran, pero aún así lo lentas y embarulladas que se me han hecho las otras 500 no me lo quita nadie.
Profile Image for Giselle.
1,048 reviews908 followers
March 23, 2016
The transformation inside Alex is quite apparent in this one. Her thoughts travel towards the monster inside her and it slowly starts to change her. Reading it was terribly creepy. I couldn't help but shiver when she starts to think about the most oddest things. Cannibalism included. (ICK!) In an almost disgusting array of detail, you're privy to the hunger pangs of people who eat people. I seriously couldn't stomach this, and even had to put my book down because I was eating at the same time.

The multiple plot lines was rather extensive, yet even though one chapter ended on cliffhangers I was still tied to the entire story. I couldn't help but keep reading only because there were so many revelations and twists and turns, it made my head spin. The only problem I had with this was that there WERE too many characters and so many plot lines, that I did have to remember where each character left off. After a couple of these, I started to get used to it, and was excited every time that character appeared in a chapter. I was going to rate this 3, but I felt it was too low because this had so much plot development, that it literally blew my mind. So many things happened, and it was all incredibly crazy in the end.

Overall, if you enjoy post-apocalyptic novels like I do, then run out and grab this one! It's not to be missed.
Profile Image for Paradoxical.
350 reviews34 followers
April 1, 2013
This book. This entire book was like dangling a piece of candy in front of you, and when you walk along trying to get to the piece of candy, it moves away so you're endlessly chasing after it. Emotional payoff? What emotional payoff. This entire book feels like a buildup to the third, which should be huge and all over the place and (maybe) satisfying--but that's not this book. This book is the teaser. It's the one nudging all the chess pieces into place in preparation for the final move.

It doesn't help that this book has alternating POVs. Where the first book was Alex's voice, this one jumps from Chris to Tom to Alex to a few other characters that I only half cared about. Which means it jerked from something SUPER EXCITING only to leave you at a cliffhanger to run back to another character who would probably leave you at another cliffhanger as it jumps back to someone else. It's frustrating, honestly, because you get to a good part and you're jerked around and it's like "LET ME FINISH AN ENTIRE SCENE ALREADY".

If you thought the first book was gory, this one ramped it up, with added torture. I don't mind, but your mileage may vary, so if you're a little squeamish then I'd probably steer clear or skim over chunks of the book.

I feel like I should have waited for the third book before reading this one (or, rather, read all three at the same time). Because now I'm left with these feelings that mainly make me go ARGH. Which, I suppose, is partially what the author is going for, but, dear author, a little emotional payoff would have been great. Just a little. It doesn't have to be major, but--okay, okay, shutting up.

I still get sucked into the book, though I'm not as attached as I was in the first. The prose helps in that regard, being fluid and horrifying and the action bits are fantastic. But I could feel myself kind of disliking what I was reading, even if I kept reading because I couldn't help myself. It's a strange feeling.

Overall, I'm torn. I can't get over the fact that the entire book is one giant tease, and the multiple POV thing just kind of annoyed me. On the other hand, I pretty much read the book straight through and found it kind of fascinating. So I suppose it's pretty good, but don't expect any real conclusion in anything. If you can, I suggest waiting until the third book comes out and reading this one and that one together. I'm sure the third has to resolve something. Right? 3 stars.
Profile Image for Shelby *trains flying monkeys*.
1,560 reviews5,818 followers
November 5, 2014
I actually liked this book. I would have gone with an higher starred review if the author hadn't switched points of view in the story so much. If it had not been recently that I had read the first one I would have been lost. Lots of gore in these books so if you don't like that kind of thing you might beware.
1 review1 follower
January 15, 2012
I loved ashes.. But I'm really sad about the ending it's a total cliffhanger I can't stop thinking about it! I can't wait tell I get shadows
Profile Image for Julia.
289 reviews470 followers
August 24, 2012
WOW! I think this might be the first sequel where I gave both the first and second book in a trilogy 5 stars. Often trilogies suffer from the "Second Book Syndrom" - not this one!

In Ashes, we follow the journey of Alex as she struggles to find safety in the post-Apocalypse, where zombies (aka The Changed) rule the world. This second book picks up right where the first one left off, with Alex fighting for her life.

The main difference between this book and the first one, is that in Shadows we are exposed to multiple Point of Views; there are several narrators besides Alex that tell us their story. I wasn't sure how I felt about that at first; often multiple POVs drive me nuts as there's usually one story I find much more interesting than all the others. Yet somehow, it really works here. There wasn't one story narrative that I was bored with, it only added to the suspense and impending feeling of doom. Don't expect the author to hold your hand when introducing - or re-introducing - many characters! There are many names and characters to remember, and since it's been a year since the last book was published, you probably won't remember them all. At first I was annoyed, because Ilsa Bick gives no re-introduction to jog your memory. How could I possibly remember all these people, and their relation to each other? Then I realized, I'm an adult and I have a brain. Use it. It all came clear to me a few chapters in. (If you've read George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones, this will be a piece of cake in comparison!)

I also loved how ruthless Ilsa Bick is with her characters. She throws you many curve balls, and there is no predictable "good triumphs over evil" narrative. Good characters die just as frequently as evil characters, often in injust and heartbreaking circumstances. Yes, there is a lot of death and gore in this. I loved every second of it.

And the ending - THE ENDING!!!!! NOOOOOOO!!!!! Let's just say I can't wait for the third book.

I would not classify this as a strictly YA book. If this was in the Adult section of a bookstore, no one would blink an eye. This book is many things: gruesome, violent, terrifying, suspenseful, well-written, smart - just all around awesome! If you're all about romance, butterflies and hearts, this might not be exactly your thing. But if you're not afraid of things that go Bump in the night, I highly recommend this series. If you've not read Ashes, you must read that before continuing with Shadows.
Profile Image for starryeyedjen.
1,640 reviews1,231 followers
September 26, 2012
I had to take a minute to catch my breath and collect my thoughts before writing this review. I have so much to say and I'm not sure where to start, but I know that I want to keep this one shorter than my Ashes review...that one was a novel in itself. Suffice it to say, Shadows was one jaw-dropping moment after another, and though I feared for Alex, I never wanted it to end.

Shadows resumes right where Ashes left off, but I suggest that you re-read Ashes before diving into this second installment. There are flashbacks and other methods used to refresh your memory, but they don't happen all at once in the first chapter like in so many novels, and so I found myself a bit confused in the beginning. I rather liked that feeling, though...as if I were in the thick of things right along with Alex, not knowing who to trust or where to turn.

Lies and betrayal. Aside from running from/fighting off the Changed, the Chuckies, the zombies -- whatever you want to call them at this point -- that seemed to be the main theme. In Ashes, we only read from Alex's point-of-view, and so we only knew people's motivations as she saw them. But in Shadows, there are so many perspectives that it's hard to keep track of at times. Some of them actually led to a better insight into character motivations. Some led to comprehension of the environmental and behavioral changes as a result of the EMP blast that changed the world as these characters knew it. Some just drove me crazy, despite any awareness or understanding they might have left me with. All said and done, though, they all tell a very realistic, if not horrific, version of the events after the EMP detonation.

SOOOO much happens in Shadows. So much running. So much fighting. So much hoping. And although this novel is 528 pages, it never felt long. The pacing was such that I could barely catch my breath between chapters and POV changes. I was steadfastly attempting to figure out just what was going on, who was on who's side, but as much as I tried, I was constantly proven wrong. This novel may be a lot of things, but predictable is not one of them.

I recently read Outpost by Ann Aguirre, and these two novels are based on very similar ideas, though they are executed in two amazingly different ways. The writing styles are each unique and exciting to read, but without divulging too much of the plot, all I can say is that they maintain a similar premise when it comes to the evolution of the "zombies". It was very interesting to watch the way the two worlds each evolved and how older citizens always seem to revert to the old ways.

Shadows was gritty and gruesome and terrifying. But it was also another one of those emotional journeys that strikes you to the core, leaving you as vulnerable as the characters in the story. Ilsa J. Bick really goes for the shock factor with this series, and if the increase in action and suspense just from the first novel is any indication, I might need a respirator on hand to read the last book in this trilogy.

Thanks to EgmontUSA and Netgalley for providing a copy for review.

This review can also be found at The Starry-Eyed Revue.
Profile Image for Michelle.
109 reviews4 followers
May 13, 2012

Well...I loved Ashes. Loved it! Couldn't put it down. So I was beyond ecstatic when a friend loaned me her pre-release copy of Shadows. I have to admit, I gave up on this one a little more than halfway through the book. And I never give up on books! I just felt that I was forcing myself to read it just to get through. Still a decent story, but the part of Ashes that I liked the least (the Rule section) was the main focus of Shadows. There are some good and gory zombie moments, but Rule seemed to "rule" the book and I just didn't enjoy it as much as Ashes. The book also doesn't recap any of the events that happened in Ashes, so I was continually looking back in Ashes to remind myself who had relationships with whom and what events had happened, and I JUST read Ashes! Since Shadows isn't being released until September, I would strongly encourage everyone to re-read Ashes immediately before beginning Shadows. You almost have to read Shadows if you're a fan of Ashes, but don't expect to be blown away.
Profile Image for Cori.
789 reviews132 followers
July 15, 2018

I'm going to keep this pretty short and sweet since this is the middle child of the trilogy (poor middle child- I do notice you and value you equally). Extensive review to come with the third installment. I LOVED this book for all the same reasons I loved the first one. This was creepy, delightful, and gory-as-Sweeney-Todd-sans-opera-singing. How does Ilsa Bick DO IT? How does she combine so many weird elements that could make up their own saga and blend it into this beautiful gumbo that makes sense and is actually appealing? I'm going to say it, guys. I'm going to say it. I think I have an author crush. Have you READ this woman's bio? Reeeead it. When I was reading "Ashes" I kept thinking, "This woman writes without any hesitancy." At times, the reader can pick up on an author's hesitancy as they write. They focus heavily on the story and characters and might throw in a sentence or info-dump paragraph that shows they did some research on the topic. This hasn't happened yet in this trilogy. She casually drops "myopia" in a sentence and keeps on going. I'm a nurse. I'm a psychiatric nurse. I dig it. The only downside to this is I feel like the kids sometimes know a little more than they should for their age, but it's forgivable. She does a great job of giving a backdrop that explains their knowledge source.

Also, the setting being the Upper Peninsula of Michigan is interesting. I felt like this book took a lot more advantage of the location than the last one did.

My one complaint: I had a hard time keeping track of all the different characters. It was cumbersome. My saving grace was that I JUST read "Ashes" so I was able to recall most of the characters. I know that wouldn't have been the case otherwise and, even after only a few weeks between the two, I struggled a bit to keep all the POVs separate. And they just weren't unique enough to stand out on their own. Chris blended with Tom who blended with etc. It was enough of an issue that I IMMEDIATELY put the last book in the trilogy on hold at the library. I was concerned enough about getting lost with any break worth mentioning between reading the two. That's my only gripe.

I'd rate this an R- unapologetic gore, some cursing, violence, blood, did I mention gore?...
Profile Image for Vee_Bookish.
1,204 reviews267 followers
Shelved as 'did-not-finish'
December 22, 2021
DNF'd around 300 pages in, I'm just slogging though this and it's been days trying to finish it. I'm just no longer invested.

To be honest, going from a single POV in the first book to multiple POVs from many characters (Alex, Tom, Chris, Lena, Peter, maybe more?) is jarring, and it's quite difficult to keep up with everyone, all the extra characters they're interacting with and the situations they're in. They're all in different locations (except Chris and Lena) and with a third left of the book, none of them have met up yet.
Profile Image for ⭐Anny⭐ (Book Princess).
423 reviews261 followers
January 10, 2018
4.5 stars
I flew through this. I couldn't put it down. It left me breathless and on the edge of my seat, with a pounding heart and too many thoughts in my head than I could put into this review. But I'll try.

Shadows picked up right where Ashes had ended, and that was a great thing because I had finished Ashes just about a week ago. It could be confusing though if there was more time in between reading the books. And, unlinke book one, this one has multiple POVs that change very quickly - almost every chapter. But more to that (and the characters) later.

The story was filled with almost non stop action and suspense. Lots of chapters ended with a cliffhanger, as did the book itself. In some chapters, it maybe was a bit too much - so much pain, blood, gore and agony. Ilsa J. Bick put her characters - and the reader - through A LOT. But the story was also extremely fast paced, which I loved, and it made for an incredible reading experience.

The many POVs were sometimes a bit confusing and not all of them were as interesting as Alex's. So lets start with her. As in the first book, Alex again was a strong, independent, fierce character. She's a fighter, a survivor, but still felt human. Her thoughts were relatable and I really cared for her.

Just as I did for Tom. Oh, Tom. This guy is definitely boyfriend material, and the more I read from his POV, the more I fell in love with his character. Next to Alex's story I liked his the most. I found it very interesting to learn something about his past and to get to know him better. And the ending - the FREAKIN ENDING!! OMG! Why did you do this to me, Mrs Bick?! It was an emotional roller coaster and after finishing the book, I only felt empty. Tom (and Alex) suffered so much, and still they're not lucky enought to be with each other again. It broke my heart and I can't wait to read book 3 - because even though this world is dark and brutal, there's still a flicker of hope.

The other characters we got to know more about were Chris, Lena and Peter. I don't really care for Chris - neither did I in book one. Lena is maybe an annoying character, but I still found it interesting to read about her background. I didn't really like Peter either, but in Shadows, I felt super sorry for him. No character ever should be put through the things he experienced. And this is something else this book showed me - what humans can be able to do to each other. Humans can be monsters, and the end of the world brings out the worst in some of them. I was disgusted. But again, the author did a great job, because she dared to write down the unbelievable, unspeakable.

I somehow missed Ellie - hope we get to know what happened to her in the next book. There are overall some unanswered questions that I'm looking forward to get an answer to and some hints (plotwise) that I'd love to follow.

All in all, this book was just as good as the first one - even though there were a bit too many POV changes. Some parts were almost too much for me in terms of brutality (if you thought Ashes was (too) brutal and gorey, DON'T read Shadows!). Some years ago I put this series aside after reading Shadows because I couldn't stomach it. But the ending (!!) made up for all the weaker parts of this book.
Recommended? YES, if you like action, suspense, survival and you're fine with blood, gore and violence.
Profile Image for Liz Barnsley.
3,385 reviews977 followers
November 17, 2013
**4.5 stars**

Alex has escaped from Rule – but what new horrors face her in the ravaged world outside?
Tom is safe – but what will he risk to find Alex?
Chris – how much does he really know about the terrible darkness of Rule? And what are his true feelings for Alex?
Ellie – where is she?

Yes indeed. All questions I had when I had finished “Ashes” the first book in this trilogy. Some are answered – some are not – and I can hardly wait to find out how this one turns out for all involved. Monsters await me – probably quite literally.

So, you have Young Adult fiction. Then you have Adult fiction. And somewhere inbetween you have Ilsa J Bick’s trilogy about a post apocalyptic, dangerous world, where no-one can be trusted and sometimes your best friend is also your worst enemy. A brilliantly imagined setting where in order to survive, ruthless is the only way to go.

There are several interlocking stories going on here as we follow Alex, Chris and Tom amongst others – separate but linked – on their journey through a landscape fraught with danger, ever changing, and filled with those of nefarious intent. The “changed” are scary, downright horrific and if you have a weak stomach, fair warning, there are no punches pulled here. And its possible that the change is not over yet…Just because you are one of the “Spared” does not guarantee that you will always be entirely you…

Multi stranded character arcs can confuse – I’ve heard people call this plot “convoluted” but for me it was rich in detail and imagination. Rather than give heart and soul to two or three main protagonists, Ms Bick breathes life into them all – whilst also managing to give the reader a full appreciation for the world they inhabit. Not an easy task and yes the plot building is complicated – you may lose some of the nuances of the journey – but its worth every second for the pure adrenalin rush that sometimes may overtake you.

If you love YA Post Apocalyptic fiction, and enjoy a story with many different faces I would recommend these books. Monsters will be on my reading schedule soon – I am hoping that the ending to this particular trilogy will satisfy me more than the last one I read. Yes you people who follow my reviews you all know what I am talking about! Shadows has had the perfect lead in to the finale. I will let you know if it lives up to the promise…

As an aside – I have the first two books in paperback (UK) and Quercus, James Fraser (cover design) and Arcangel Images (cover photo) have done another outstanding job here. I love the tactile presence of these novels on my shelf. Monsters is on my Kindle (I took the short route and went via netgalley) but I shall be purchasing the final paperback to complete my collection. Cover art. One of my favourite things about physical books…

Happy Reading Folks!
Profile Image for Alpispa.
400 reviews17 followers
January 7, 2017
Un 3,5 en realidad.
Sombras ha sido una continuación que me ha gustado más que su primera parte. No sé si se debe al hecho de que ya no nos centramos solo en Alex, sino que vivimos la historia desde diferentes líneas paralelas que se van entrelazando, cosa que me ha gustado, porque cuando llegábamos a un punto interesante de una, la autora nos trasladaba a otra diferente y la intriga se mantenía, impidiéndonos dejar de leer. A pesar de ser un libro con unas cuántas páginas, tal vez demasiadas para lo que se cuenta, el libro se bebe en un momento, debido a la cantidad de tensión que se va acumulando a medida que avanzamos.
Los personajes siguen pareciéndome muy planos, y es una pena, porque podrían dar mucho más de sí. En cambio, la autora se centra tanto en contar lo que ocurre, que parece olvidarse de desarrollar bien la personalidad de los personajes. Además, parece que algunas de las dudas que surgieron en el primer libro se van esclareciendo poco a poco, pero otras surgen y hay muchos hilos sueltos. Eso está bien, porque estoy deseando conocer la verdad sobre todos estos puntos, pero espero que en el tercer libro se den las explicaciones oportunas, porque si no será una auténtica decepción. Sigue encantándome que la autora narre las escenas más desagradables que nos sacan alguna mueca de asco sin ningún miramiento. Nos encontramos en un entorno cruel, amenazador y desagradable, y ella lo plasma de maravilla.
Ya solo queda leer Monstruos para saber el final de esta historia. Espero que sea un final de esos para recordar.
Próximamente reseña completa en http://adictaloslibros.blogspot.com.es
Profile Image for Megs.
27 reviews1 follower
September 25, 2012
I loved this even more than the first, which surprised me.
I also loved the multiple perspectives, which also surprised me.

This book was even more fast paced than the first, I honestly couldn't stop reading. I think I finished it in about a day and a night. I kind of regret that because now I have to wait a whole year to find out what happens!! The whole reason I started this trilogy was to stop thinking about The Hunger Games, but now I can't stop thinking about Ashes!!!

I loved this book, and I can't really find much fault in it. The character voices were very distinct and it was interesting to catch a glimpse into each character's lives (although I think there was an overuse of the phrase "Hell, blah blah blah" because everyone seemed to say it which was weird). I usually hate the multiple narrator style because it makes the novel 'stop and start' but in Shadows, it worked with the story and made it into a real page-turner!

I love Alex! She is made of pure awesomeness!! I liked Katniss and all, but Alex was so much more relatable and intriguing despite the whole brain tumor and zombie apocalypse. I've also become quite attached to the other characters, and seeing through their eyes was quite fascinating. We got to see the different opinions and lies and misunderstandings of each character (which was at times quite tragic and heart-wrenching).

I hated (and loved) the ending though. Such a cliffhanger!!!!!! I cannot believe I have to wait a year to find out what happens... my heart can't take it!
Profile Image for Eve.
337 reviews459 followers
January 12, 2013

This was ... woah. I usually find that the second book in a series is never as good as the first, but this was even better. There was never a dull moment, and the writing was incredible. This book is definitely not for the weak stomached or the overly sensitive. It was really disturbing at some points (so much that I had to put the book down, which I never do) and really really gory. But what do you expect? It's a zombie apocalypse. You think they're won't be a couple limbs torn out here and there or a couple eyeballs eaten? (Ew, sorry.)

As you can see, I loved this. I loved the characters, the freaking crazy story, I even loved the different povs, which I'm not normally a fan of. And holy shrimp shish kabobs that ending. I'm emotionally drained. How will I ever make it until September 10th?!

Even though this book is centered around an apocalypse (specifically a zombie one), there's so much other crap that goes down too that's not zombie related. I'm not spoiling anything. But let me tell you, it got to me. That ending.... No words.

So, I highly recommend this series. If Monsters is even relatively as good as the first two, it will be fantastic. I can't freaking wait. I'll just go lie in the fetal position rocking back and forth calmly until it is published. (but really)

Ilsa J. Bick, spectacular job, yet again. Cannot wait until September. UGH.
Profile Image for Joe.
178 reviews93 followers
October 30, 2016
Ashes (first in the trilogy) serves up a jovial runaway train of a young adult horror/adventure novel; combining peril, mystery and a distinctive take on the zombie apocalypse genre. But as is the way with runaway trains, Ashes crashed. The last third of the book is a tedious slog through a totalitarian post-apocalyptic society. Ilsa Bick concerns herself so much with not spoiling her ongoing mysteries that she refuses to properly describe the setting or let anything consequential happen.

And if the final third of Ashes is the literary equivalent of a train in a ditch, then the first third of Shadows (the sequel) resembles an attempt to get the train back on the tracks by stoking the boiler. It's a frantic mess of shifting perspectives, wild action and a dearth of plot momentum.

But by the time Shadows reaches its climactic middle chapters, a minor miracle develops. The shifting narrative takes on a cohesive structure with exciting cliffhangers and a more dynamic world (including some delightfully creepy villains.) Worthwhile mysteries get solved and Bick stops worrying about letting the audience know too much. Shadows becomes the dark, fun adventure it was meant to be.

Implausibly, this loco locomotive lurched right back onto the track. All aboard for more gore, skeevy adolescent zombies and wild cliffhangers. Next stop; Monsters!

Edited in August of 2016. I still haven't read Monsters.
Profile Image for Matthew Galloway.
1,011 reviews28 followers
June 28, 2013
I wanted to love this book so much because I completely loved the first book.

I think, for me, the book didn't work as well for two main reasons.

The first is the change to multiple perspectives -- the first book had so much tension because it was from the point of view of one isolated person. Alex didn't know what was going on with anyone else and she didn't know if they were still alive. In Shadows, you do know. You know what's going on in pretty much everyone's mind... Even people who are only going to last a few pages. All these multiple perspectives also seemed to make the book feel slower to me. While there is always something going on, you still have to wait forever for anything to be resolved because you have some other perspective in there.

The second issue was the unrelenting awfulness of events. Yeah, the first book was dark and gruesome, but I had hope that some things would work out. People would be able to survive. In Shadows, it quickly became apparent that if something COULD go wrong, it WOULD go wrong. There was always a forgotten gun, a missed watch, a strategically placed piece of ice... If there is no chance that things will work out well, then there's no tension. It's just a slog through until the bad things happens yet again.

I sure hope book three is better. I'm invested at this point...
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