Review: Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick

August 19, 2013 4 stars, Book Review 30 ★★★★


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 post-apocalyptic novel about a world that could become ours at any moment, where those left standing must learn what it means not just to survive, but to live amidst the devastation.

​​Ashes was an interesting mix. I don’t even know what to say without giving away a big chunk of the second half of the book. What I can say is, it’s a zombie book, but these zombies aren’t ‘dead’. The electromagnetic pulse that has destroyed so much technology has changed something inside them, made them animalistic and crazed. I loved how everyone was effected in some way. Awesomely enough the crazy behavior doesn’t spread in your typical manner by a bite either!

I really enjoyed the first half of this book more so than the second, it almost could have been a book of it’s own. Things take a big detour in the second half that I compltely did not expect. The meat of it felt so completely different when Alex gets to the town called Rule. I wasn’t sure I was going to like how it turned out but. Thankfully Alex and I were of a similar mind, so I was rolling right along which her. I seriously dig this chick. She’s one tough as nails survivor. Admittedly, I don’t normally like it when I feel I’m reading two big stories in one but it works here. My one pick point is I feel it could have had about 100 pages shaved off of it. But that’s just me – I say this only because then I wouldn’t have felt the way I did about the first and second half. For me, Ashes had a similar feeling to it as The Passage by Justin Cronin.

There was a touch of romance which didn’t overwhelm things, so you romance lovers out there will like that. I tell you what though,  was thrown for a loop because it was a total bait and switch. Looking forward to book two, Shadows!

See our Guest Post by Ilsa J. Bick on  the Things You Never Thought You’d Eat!


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• I won this book last year in a giveaway – from where I don’t remember. This is a review of An advanced uncorrected copy. All opinions expressed are my own. Any quotes are from an unpublished edition of this title and are subject to change.  Please note that this post also contains affiliate links. To view our full Blog Policy, click here.

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Tabitha (Pabkins)

When I'm in the zone I can flip book pages faster than the eye can see - screaming "More Input!" I'm a book, yarn, & art supply hoarding goblin who loves to draw, make toys and craft all sorts of creepy cute things. My current habit is to listen to audio books while I'm arting it up!
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30 Responses to “Review: Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick”

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      What was it that threw you off? The first part versus the second half? I admit I enjoyed the first half more. It had a great flow. I wasn’t expecting the second half at all.

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      I definitely liked the first half more. Ooo I see you read The Burning Sky – I must jump over there and see what you thought!

      How did you feel about the whole religious cult feel to the second half?

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      Yes, I liked the concept of the EMP having caused it and that there was no spread by bite. You either were going to eventually change or you weren’t, or you died. Well I didn’t love it, but I did enjoy it. I’m still on the fence a bit over the second half, and book two will really decide for me how much I like it LOL. Do you ever feel that way?

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      I didn’t think it was gorey – but then, I have a high tolerance for gore. But I really didn’t think it was gorey at all. When I said it felt similar to The Passage – I mean in the way that the first half of the book felt like it’s own story and then the second half was a completely new set of characters and a different story. (Still Alex was the central character throughout).

  1. Eva Millien

    Thanks for sharing your review of Ashes, might be an interesting book. evamillien at gmail dot com

  2. Jaime Lester

    I have seen this time and time again at the library, and I love zombie books so I pick it up regularly. Somehow, I have never brought it home. After reading your, as usual, fantastic review, I think I should give it a shot.

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      See now I’m torn on this one – I’m waffling between a 3.5 and 4 because frankly I think it could have been seriously edited down. Secondly I feel like I’ll like this one more if and only if book 2 meets a few expectations. What those are exactly I’m not sure. I’m hopeful though. The first half I loved, the second half was strange and threw me for a loop but it surprised me which many apocalypse books now a days do not do. I’d be curious to hear what you thought. I’m going to read book 2 soon since I have a copy. We are going to give away the full trilogy next month.

  3. Jaime Lester

    I think I may just want to see what you think of book 2 before I try it out. Let you be the guinea pig. 🙂

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      I am an excellent guinea pig…I also smell of burnt hair if you clamp electrodes to me and send across zzzzzzzing like bolts. ZAP there I go. Now OMENS! – that review just went live a few seconds ago by Kelley Armstrong – you MUST read that one! Interview goes up in a few hours also.

  4. sarah c.

    Great review!! I have been wanting to read this book!! It sounds good!!!

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      Agreed the new cover is so much better. My ARC has the old cover which is rather creepy scary LOL. Gotta give it to Egmont they can do creepy covers.

  5. Mogsy

    I hated, hated, hated the “detour” you spoke of! You’re right, the second half could have been a different book, and I remember being like, how can you tease me with such zombie survival goodness then whisk me away to this town just so you can get Alex all moony eyes with another boy? Give me back Tom, damn you! YOU CAN’T DO THIS TO ME!!!
    Mogsy recently posted…Book Review: The Coldest War by Ian TregillisMy Profile

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      YES! That is exactly how I felt!! See I knew it we are so in sync. The blurb makes it sound like its all about Alex, Tom and Ellie (I think that was the brats name…) The reason why I’m still giving it a 4 is because I SERIOUSLY suspect Tom WILL be given back to us. I mean his disappearance was just way too questionable right? It totally leaves it open for him to come back. So we can both hope. I’m going to read the second book VERY soon since it’s staring at me on my shelf and the last book comes out what next month?

      • Mogsy

        Yeah, Ellie. Though she did get a lot better, but that kid can throw some serious tantrums, lol. I loved Tom from the start though, since I’m a big fan of competent, down-to-earth guys in YA. Don’t worry, all I’ll say is you definitely haven’t seen the last of him!

        And yeah, looks like 3rd book drops Sept 10!
        Mogsy recently posted…Book Review: The Coldest War by Ian TregillisMy Profile