13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust,
This review is from: Ashes (The First Book in the Ashes Trilogy) (Paperback)17-year-old Alex is dying from a brain tumour and decides to take one final trip to the Michigan wilderness to make peace with herself. While she's there an electro-magnetic pulse explodes in the atmosphere that kills thousands.
Many of the survivors are now flesh-eating cannibals. Of the other survivors, Alex is one of the small percentage who've gained a superhuman sense - super-smell that can detect a person's emotions.
In the wilderness she meets Tom, a young army veteran and Ellie, an 8-year-old orphan whose grandfather died in the pulse. Together they fight to survive but that's no easy task in a world where everyone is out for themselves, everyone has secrets and no one can be trusted.
Ilsa J Bick's debut YA novel mixes apocalyptic, superhero and dystopian fiction but despite some great ideas, it never really took off for me.
I liked the thought that went into how the superhuman senses work but it doesn't seem to go beyond being a cool concept. Alex never really experiments with her abilities, even when it would help her get what she wants in the second half of the book.
The book splits from a survival story into a dystopian plot after a key event that happens off page and is never really being explained.
I liked the idea that the pulse has given Alex a second chance and her uncertainty of its permanence. I also liked that she has survival skills and knows how to use them. However in the second half she's hindered by a love story with Chris, whose grandfather governs the small town of Rule (a town of survivors with dystopian and religious overtones that have been done elsewhere better). Chris is so underdeveloped that I didn't buy Alex's feelings for him.
Tom's experiences in Iraq give him an interesting backstory and I was sorry when he disappeared from the story, mainly because I did at least buy his connection with Alex as it came from shared experience.
I hated Ellie. Even allowing for her age she doesn't listen and her stupid behaviour triggers every disaster in the story. It `s doubly irritating because neither Tom nor Ellie explain why she must do as she's told, instead reinforcing her behaviour by telling her it's okay.
Ultimately this book just didn't gel for me and the cheap cliffhanger ending annoyed me rather than encouraged me to read on.