Review: Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick

By Ilsa J. Bick
480 Pages
Published by Egmont USA

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.

I’ll get this out of the way first – Ashes is one of the best and most original zombie novels I’ve ever read, and I read a lot of zombie novels. I read a lot of horror and it’s hard for me to be blown away by a book or a movie these days. Ashes totally blew me away. Actually, I would use the term “zombie novel” loosely when talking about Ashes. While there are certainly zombies present, the book itself is more about the struggles of the people who are still alive and the zombies are secondary.

As far as originality, I don’t think it’s spoilerrific to say that the idea of an EMP causing the zombie outbreak was pretty original.  Not wholly original because there have been examples of EMPs wreaking havoc before (the first thing that comes to mind is the tv show Dark Angel), but I can’t recall ever hearing them used as an example for a zombie outbreak before. I liked it. And I will give something vaguely spoilery here – not a true spoiler that affects the plot in any way, just something that isn’t revealed in the synopsis and I only say it because I know there are people who struggle with this as well – there is a lot of animal violence early on in the book. Both violence committed toward animals and animals doing violence. So if you’re weird about that like I am, go in forewarned. I was able to get past it but it was tough for me and I was glad when it started letting up after the initial chaos of the EMPs.

I also liked the way it was determined who lived and who died from the EMP. Not going to give it away here but it made for a really interesting story. And it made old people really, really scary (which is not a spoiler). I won’t touch the love triangle but I have a VERY firm opinion of who Alex should be with. And I will say that the love triangle isn’t one of those annoying insta-love “who should I choose even though the answer is obvious from the get-go who I’ll end up with” things. It’s complicated by many issues and well handled, and not at all sappy or annoying.

The end of the book is a totally crazy cliffhanger. TOTALLY CRAZY CLIFFHANGER. Literally as soon as I finished the book I flew to the computer and went to Goodreads to find out how long I’d have to wait for the sequel. September? I won’t be able to find out what happens until frigging SEPTEMPBER?




I cannot wait. I can’t. This is why I hate getting into series before they’re finished. And I’m not even kidding, if I happen to see ARCs of this going out I will send the most pathetically pleading letter ever to Ms. Bick and to the publisher. Because I have no idea how I’m going to wait for the sequel to this book. I really don’t.

I have absolutely no doubt that this is going to end up on my list of the best books I’ve read this year. Probably near the top. Do best of the years have to actually be published in the year you’re doing the list for? No, you know what? I don’t care. It’s my list and this is going on it. I’m making my own rules because I’m a loner, Dottie. A rebel. And this book is amazing. So there.

5/5 stars.

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  1. Lol at your Gifs. I hate when I read an awesome book, then have to wait forever for the sequel.. It’s even worse when you get the arc.. I got to read A Million Suns by Beth Revis in October.. it just came out last month.. so Now I have to wait a year plus the extra months I have waited from Oct.. It’s a sad thing.. and since I won the arc, and my blog is pathetic.. it will mostlikely be 2013 before I get my hands on the final book. bleh..

    I love zombies lately.. I have this small obsession with them.. I dont nornally like anything horrorish.. but the Carrie Ryan books and the Walking dead show have sucked me to the dark side. I have Warm bodies on my shelf.. I’m dying to read that.. no time.

    I dont remember if I have this one on my list to read or not.. It looks pretty good. I have read other good reviews of it.. and now yours.. so if it’s not.. it will be. 🙂

    I have nothing really pervy to say.. other than karma got me back for my period comment the other day.. I was practically Bed ridden all day tuesday with the worst Menstral cramps I have ever had.. Thank goodness for heated seats in my car.. I swear I wanted to sit out there all friggen day..

    So dish, are you some kinda witch? Cursing my Vagina when I least expect it? this is no way to start out our friendship you know. lol

    • I am not some kind of witch. I am, however, some kind of bitch. If I wasn’t I’d be sorry to hear about your vag, I’m sure.

      I don’t get ARCs either (except the ones through the very, very amazing and awesome DAC challenge ARC tour hosted by kind and generous souls) so I really need to start waiting until series wrap up to read. I’m going to end up bald.

  2. I was not fond of the end of this book; it was too much of a cliffhanger for me. I definitely want to read more, but I felt like the last 1/3rd of the book changed gears and didn’t resolve enough of the first part of the book. Having said that, I’ve seen the author twice – she’s former military and actually goes out on survival quests so that aspect does feel very authentic in the book. The EMP and its affects (minus zombies) are things that can actually happen, which makes it even more creepy.

    • I definitely think that’s valid. It is SUCH a cliffhanger. Oy vey. It left me crazy for the next book but I can totally see how it could irritate as well.

  3. LOVE this review. I think I’ve heard of this book but tbh haven’t paid it much attention. I’m not even sure I had given the synopsis a proper read! But it sounds really interesting and you seem to really love it. Your enthusiasm is rather infectious. Adding it to my TBR!

    Molli | Once Upon a Prologue

    • OMG, yes! Add it to your TBR, even if you aren’t able to get to it for a while. I was so taken by surprise by this one. Not that I didn’t expect to like it, I just didn’t expect to like it as much as I did.

  4. Awesome review! I’ve had this book on my TBR list for a while, and I’m excited to hear that you loved it so much. Thanks for the heads up about the animal violence – I hate that kind of stuff so when I read it I’ll try to skim over those parts.

    I feel the same way you do about waiting with my favorite book so far of the year, Cinder. I’m totally going to beg and plead for an ARC for the second one in that series! And no, I think the favorites list should just be your favorites that you read in that year. Unless you specifically make a list of favorites that came out in that specific year.

    Great review, and once again, thanks for making me laugh while reading a review! 😉

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