Ashes is the first in a new YA trilogy by Ilsa J. Bick that is being released today. Ashes follows the fate of Alex, a teenager with terminal brain cancer as she tries to survive a post-apocalyptic future. It is a great read; I could hardly put it down.
Alex is hiking in the woods, and has just met up with two other hikers, an older man and his granddaughter, when a loud boom in the sky makes everything go haywire. After the initial chaos, the older man is dead and Alex is left in the company of an 8 year-old girl and a dog.
The loud boom, an EMP of some kind, has altered the brain chemistry of the survivors in strange ways. Everyone of middle age has died, leaving old people and a very few people younger than 30. Most of the survivors in the under 30 crowd turn into animalistic cannibals, like zombies, but alive and breathing. The book follows Alex, Ellie, and later Tom, as they navigate through the dangers of the forest. It is a great story and a very interesting new take on zombies. There is, of course, a Lord of the Flies undertone, as the trio encounters various people along the way.
The only thing that I disliked about the book was the 8 year-old, Ellie. For much of the beginning she is annoying and uncooperative. She is the TSTL, Too Stupid To Live, character, who despite her idiocy, seems to escape fatal consequences to her choices, due in this story to the benevolence of her companions. I almost stopped reading the book, so annoying were her mistakes. Ellie does become less annoying as time goes on, when she finally realizes she needs to stop being such a brat because their lives are all at stake. Hello? People eating zombies?
I like that Bick leaves some questions unanswered and she has set up the next book nicely, though you will be facing a cliff on the last couple of pages.
Highly Recommended for lovers of survival and zombie stories