Ashes / Ilsa J. Bick
Egmont (2011)
New York, NY
465 pp, $17.99 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781606841754;
 OCLC: 694394290

In this riveting story of survival, 17-year-old Alexandra Adair is hiking in the woods of northern Michigan when something unexpected and terrifying happens – an electromagnetic pulse – which not only fried her cell phone and other electronic devices, but disrupted birds in flight who began crashing into each other and falling to the ground dead. Making her way back to civilization, Alex encounters several people who have changed and begins to wonder what the rest of the country and, even perhaps, the world are experiencing. In the quest to find food, shelter, and safety, Alex will soon find out what awaits beyond the wilderness…a post-apocalyptic nightmare.

Ashes is divided into five parts – Part 1: The Mountain; Part 2: Tom; Part 3: The Change; Part 4: Rule; and, Part 5: The Monster; however, in reading the book there seems to be two distinctive parts – navigating the forest and then coping with life and attempting to survive in what remains of civilization. Bick’s careful attention to detail and setting the scene produced a gripping page-turner with characters that not only had depth, but were also believable Ashes is the first novel in a planned trilogy with the sequel, Shadows, scheduled for release in September 2012.

I found Ashes to be one of those books which is incredibly difficult to put down – from beginning to end there was a sense of both danger and adventure which was enthralling. At the end of the book, I was definitely excited for what’s to come in the sequel, Shadows. I rate this book five out of five stars – it’ll be a great addition to any public library’s collection. Due to graphic violence and scary situations, I’d recommend this book for grade 9 and up. Worth noting, this book has much appeal for adults, as well.

Genres: Young Adult / Science Fiction / Fantasy / Dystopian / Adventure / Horror 

Other novels by Ilsa J. Bick: Draw the Dark (2011) and Drowning Instinct (2012)

Read-alikes: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, The Maze Runner by James Dashner, Divergent by Veronica Roth, and Article 5 by Kristen Simmons

(This review is also available on WorldCat, Barnes and Noble, and GoodReads.)