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Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick

I have a dilemma with this book. On one hand I loved the story and (most of) the characters, but on the other… The easiest way to explain it would be to tell you the basic plot. You follow a teenage girl named Alex, who is terminally ill and planning to take her own life. Whilst hiking through wilderness she is hit by an electromagnetic pulse, making pain shoot through her and the two people she had bumped into. Even the animals were affected and seemed to go crazy. As Alex recovers, she realises that her sense of smell (which she loss as a result of her illness) had returned, and is even sharper than before. The two people she had bumped into were Ellie – a stubborn 8-year-old girl – and her grandfather, oh and their dog! Only the dog and Ellie had survived. They soon find that the whole area had been affected by the shock, and some have lost their humanity because of it. After wondering around the wilderness, they are joined by a man named Tom, and you can sense a strong bond between him and Alex. And so their new family begins…

The story is brilliantly planned, with a scientific explanation for the shock that could (possibly, maybe, I don’t know,) happen. The link between shock and effect is clever too. The problem: from the way that stories are usually structured, you’d think that the whole story would follow these three characters, but it doesn’t. It is like the author has merged two novels together, making you kind of hate the main character because of her choices. I don’t want to give it away to you, as it is a really good read, so I will leave out the details. You follow the group of three, and as a reader you bond with them whilst they bond together. When a series of events tear them apart, causing Alex to be trapped in a surviving town, you’d think she would soon escape and find them again. This is where you begin to despise Alex’s decisions. It is like she forgets about Ellie and Tom completely; hence it is like a different novel. She meets a new, mysterious guy... she gets a job, she settles down. On the up side, it is well told and good to read, if you forget the first half of the story too.

The story is left on a cliff-hanger, preparing you for another novel, and hopefully welcoming back Ellie and Tom, who you grow to love. Overall, I did enjoy it! After the last turn of the page, I wanted to read the next one and hear more about the characters. But I will have to wait, as it is yet to be published. I would read it again… and as great as the story was, I think it would have been more effective if Ellie and Tom were found again before the end! I wanted them back in the story, and it's a shame to lose such great characters.

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