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A Reader of Fictions: Will I? from RENT

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Will I? from RENT

Ashes
Ashes Trilogy, Book 1

Author: Ilsa J. Bick
Pages: 480
ARC Acquired from: Egmont USA via NetGalley

Brief Summary:
Alex has a monster in her head, a brain tumor that has stolen her senses of smell and taste, along with her memories. Desperate to get away from all of the pitying and relieved (that it's her and not them) glances, she decides that before she's dead, she needs to make the trip to spread her parents' ashes (yeah, her parents died just before the tumor was discovered...this girl just can't catch a break) on Lake Superior. While hiking through the mountains, she meets a grandfather and granddaughter (her parents are dead too). They share a repast and then share some serious pain, as some sort of "zap" attacks their brains. This kills the grandfather, injures Ellie and her dad's dog Mina, and seems to fix Alex's brain, along with giving her a super sense. Now, only really old technology works and Alex has to figure out how to keep herself and this snotty girl alive in the face of some mysterious calamity that seems to have turned most teenagers into cannibals...

Review:
Let me begin by pointing out that I have read only amazing reviews of Ashes. Pretty much every blogger I follow raved about its complete awesomeness. Unfortunately, I did not find myself so much in love with it. The story was interesting and, by the end, I was definitely interested in what was going to happen. I even plan on reading the sequel to Ashes, because I cannot just let the story end where it did. Warning: the ending is seriously abrupt. Can you say cliffhanger?

Although I feel really sad for Alex and was exceedingly happy to see her healed, I never really liked her or connected with her. This is really weird, because she definitely knows how to take care of herself and kick ass when she has to, meaning that she's just the kind of heroine I generally love. In some ways, she reminds me of Trella from Inside Out and Outside In, bruised and not trusting. Alex's coldness, though, stems from the fact that she could die at any moment. Why get close to someone when you're only going to leave them or be left by them because they can't stand to watch you die? While I totally get that and would probably be the exact same way, it still makes her hard to get close to even as a reader, for me at least.

Her romances, too, were rather tough for me to accept, what with her being so closed off. There was no guy that I shipped her with and no relationship that seemed like it would pan out in the end. In fact, they seemed borne of stress, fear and proximity. One romance even struck me as little short of Stockholm Syndrome.

Since I don't want to spoil anything, I'm going to be kind of vague about what happened to create the crazy post-apocalyptic world in Ashes. Let's just say that it was pretty stellar. The fact that the event, the "zap" affected people's brains in different ways definitely intrigues me as well. However, I had trouble dealing with teens turning into people eaters. It seemed to lessen the credibility and seriousness of the novel.

What creeped me out in a more believable way was the way that normal people reacted to this calamity, which killed off everyone in middle age and turned most youths into cannibals, leaving only the elderly, young children and a few teens like Alex to keep the world going. These aspects were close to being Witheresque, what with their only being a few women of reproductive age. Plus, with limited resources come unlimited conflicts with other folks only trying to survive just like you are. Mostly, I just feel like the cannibalistic adolescents were unnecessary.

Even though I didn't love this, I do want to know more. Maybe Bick can convince me in book two. Before writing this one off because of my opinion, definitely check out some other reviews, like this one over at Presenting Lenore.

"Will I lose my dignity?
Will someone care?
Will I wake tomorrow
From this nightmare?"

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