Book Review: Ashes by Ilsa J Bick

ASHES by Ilsa J Bick
Series: Ashes Trilogy, #1
Publication Date: September 6th 2011 by Egmont
Rating: |

Summary: Alex has run away and is hiking through the wilderness with her dead parents’ ashes, about to say goodbye to the life she no longer wants to live. But then the world suddenly changes. An electromagnetic pulse sweeps through the sky zapping every electronic device and killing the vast majority of adults. For those spared, it’s a question of who can be trusted and who has changed… Everyone still alive has turned – some for the better (those who acquired a superhuman sense) while others for the worse (those who acquired a taste for human flesh). Desperate to find out what happened and to avoid the zombies that are on the hunt, Alex meets up with Tom – an Army veteran who escaped one war only to find something worse at home – and Ellie, a young girl whose grandfather was killed by the electromagnetic pulse. This improvised family will have to use every ounce of courage they have just to find food, shelter, while fighting off the ‘Changed’ and those desperate to stay alive. A tense and involving adventure with shocks and sudden plot twists that will keep teen and adult readers gripped.

Review Overview:

  • A gripping novel that couldn’t possibly be overhyped.
  • Violent, disturbing graphic images – extremely gross and extremely cool at the same time
  • The characters actually try to come up with a scientific explanation. Gotta love logic.

I was a non-believer. I knew that there was a ton of hype surrounding this book in the blogosphere, but the cover didn’t appeal to me. I was wrong. ASHES is hype-worthy. I can’t even count the number of times that I said “Yuck!” out loud. In a good way, of course.

ASHES is a non-stop sensory overload. And that’s how you know that Ilsa J. Bick is a fabulous writer. It’s one thing to see a scene unfold right before your eyes, but it’s on a whole different level when you can actually smell and taste what’s going on. She’s an unbelievably descriptive writer especially when it comes to the gruesome zombie scenes. The book gets quite graphic and violent so if you tend to get queasy, I wouldn’t pick this up… but then you’d be missing out.

One of the many reasons why I loved ASHES was the fact that Bick tries to get the characters to come to a scientific reasoning as to why everything is happening. Bick doesn’t take the easy way out by saying that everything happens just because she says it did. Alex’s knowledge is limited to what she knows from her AP Bio science class and random tidbits that she’s picked up over the years. She may not be a scientist, but she’s also not an idiot. I think it gives ASHES a more realistic feel because I think that people would definitely try to figure out what on earth is happening if they were in this situation. You can’t always be running from zombies. There’s definitely a lot of time to think about what’s going on. As to the question of if this can really happen? I’m not sure about that. I’m no science expert, but Bick’s writing definitely makes me hope that it never does.

Believe it or not, there’s actually a love triangle in this book. Uh oh. But for once, I can actually say that I did not mind. I know we’re all tired of the silly and unnecessary love triangles that are taking over the YA market but it actually works in ASHES. Why? Because ASHES does take place within a few months and SO MANY THINGS happen in that amount of time. I’d hate to give out spoilers, so trust me when I say that it works and it’s quite a dilemma.

So now that I’ve been properly exposed to a zombie book, I want more! Specifically, I want more ASHES. I felt satisfied once I completed ASHES but I feel an insane urge to find out what happens next. There is no cliffhanger ending, but you will be left with a ton of questions that will be dying to be answered.

Why I’m Biased: I’m almost immediately turned off by anything that sounds remotely dystopian / post-apocalyptic just because there were so many of them this year. I’m obviously way too quick to judge.

Other Reviews:
Bloggers {heart} Books
Bloggin ’bout Books

About the Author

Among other things, Ilsa J. Bick was an English major in college and so she knows that she is supposed to write things like, “Ilsa J. Bick is <fill in the blank>.” Except she hates writing about herself in the third person like she is not in the room. Helloooo, I’m right here . . . So let’s just say that she’s a child psychiatrist (yeah, you read that right)as well as a film scholar, surgeon wannabe (meaning she did an internship in surgery and LOVED it and maybe shoulda stuck), former Air Force major—and an award-winning, best-selling author of short stories, e-books, and novels. Believe me, no one is more shocked about this than she . . . unless you talk to her mother.

Find the Author

Website | Twitter | GoodReads


  1. Ahhhh, sounds amazing! My loan with the library expired but I’m hoping to check it out again soon. I’ll definitely have to actually give this a go then. Plus, a love triangle you didn’t mind? This I’ve got to read!

Leave a Reply