REVIEW: "Ashes", by Ilsa J. Bick

Title: Ashes
Author: Ilsa J Bick
Publisher: Egmont USA
Released: September 6th 2011
Pages: 480

Taken from Goodreads

It could happen tomorrow . . . 

An electromagnetic pulse flashes across the sky, destroying every electronic device, wiping out every computerized system, and killing billions. 

Alex hiked into the woods to say good-bye to her dead parents and her personal demons. Now desperate to find out what happened after the pulse crushes her to the ground, Alex meets up with Tom—a young soldier—and Ellie, a girl whose grandfather was killed by the EMP. 

For this improvised family and the others who are spared, it’s now a question of who can be trusted and who is no longer human. 

Author Ilsa J. Bick crafts a terrifying and thrilling novel about a world that could be ours at any moment, where those left standing must learn what it means not just to survive, but to live amidst the devastation.


When I first picked up this book I did so because I'd seen a few good reviews of it around and about and I was enjoying the fab little trend of dystopian fiction that is still running its course in YA at the moment. However, my hopes weren't huge because I'm one of those despicable human beings who judges books by their covers. This cover was just a 80s the right term?...for me. 

Well give me a sturdy slap on the wrist, I must learn to obey old clich├ęs as this was a book that I should not have judged by its cover. And I should not have expected it to fit into the sometimes (though not always) sanguine niche that YA can be. Don't bite, I said it can be!

For me, Ashes was a book that provided plenty of the darkness and grit that its title suggested. When an EMP causes all electronics to faulter and also interferes with the teeny tiny electrical pulses in the brains of humans, a whole heap of...poop...hits the fan! Only the very young and very old survive intact, save for a few exceptions such as Alex, the protagonist. Others survive, but as maddened inhumane creatures, similar to the "sickos" in Charlie Higson's The Enemy series, or the raging "infected" in 28 Days Later. 

The idea of the masses succumbing to a force that leaves them insane and blood thirsty is not new. The dystopian premise of technology falling down around our ears is not new either. So what about this book made me love it as much as I did? It was a combination of things really. I loved Alex as the protagonist. She goes to the mountains to bury her past and to admit that, due to a brain tumor, she has no future. Instead it is her tumor and the treatments she's had for it that saves her from the EMP and allows her to begin her story. These are things you find out in the first pages so I don't think I'm spoiling anything for you. 

I loved the was Bick toyed with my expectations of the lovey dovey part of the story. I was expecting that to be straight forward and predictable, but she caught me off-guard! I could go into a ramble about this aspect of the story, but then I would be spoiling things! I'll simply say that I expect the sequel to leave me reeling.

Mostly, I loved the crumbling world Alex found herself in after the EMP. It reminded me of Prentisstown in the Patrick Ness novels. Haunting, patriarchal and oh-so-very insane! I'm thoroughly looking forward to the sequel to this (already on my Goodreads Wishlist) and finding out how Bick tortures her protagonist further.

This is a must-read for fans of dystopia.


  1. I really want to give this one a go, I must get round to it soon!

  2. Cool review :)
    I loved reading Ashes, my favourite
    character's Chris.


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