Friday, September 9, 2011

Ashes by Ilsa K. Bilk

”You only want to brawl. You want a fight. Fighting tricks you into believing you can change the past, even when the past is dead and gone and all of it is ashes.”

It’s a year about a decade or so from today. A sudden electro-magnetic pulse wipes out all electronics. Millions of people died immediately after the pulse. Some were changed.

Alex was one of those who was changed for the better. She had been dying of a brain tumor. After the pulse, she could suddenly taste and smell again. More than that, she could smell the others who changed.

The smell is like rotten meat. Then Alex knows one of the changed are around, brain-zapped cannibal teenagers. Alex, along with a little girl named Ellie and a slightly older boy named Tom, travels to a nearby ranger station in search of aid, and from there the trio head towards Canada. Before they get there, their truck is hijacked by a group of surviving senior citizens. They take Ellie, shoot Tom, and leave them for the nearby colony of Rule.

Alex was likable from the start. She has a giant tumor in her head, but she isn't all mopey about it, and she has great survival skills and an analytical mind that I admire. Ellie was more of an accustomed taste. She is a complete brat at first, and occasionally afterwards, but she turned out to be sort of sweet and lovable. Tom was sort of nondescript, though I did like him as Alex's romantic pairing.

I started Ashes expecting a zombie story, but it wasn’t that exactly. We don’t learn everything behind the pulse and the causes of the cannibals, but we know it has something to do with age and possibly hormones. The first parts of the book are exciting, and I experienced a ton of tension waiting for the cannibals to arrive. Needless to say, they made a great and stomach-turning entrance. The first parts of the book were very tense, then the parts in Rule slowed down a bit. It focused more on Alex trying to fit into a rule-intensive society and pretty much failing. The ending…wow, that ending really kind of sucks, because it’s a huge cliffhanger that won’t be remedied until the next book finally comes out.

I read a copy of Ashes through Netgalley. It's available now.

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