Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I got to read this as an e-galley from Netgalley.com, provided by Egmont USA.
Our main character is Alex. She has a tumor in her brain, that is probably not able to be cured, even after some new type of treatment, that is these little things called pebbles that are inserted into her brain and that are supposed to fight the cancer. So she has gone out on her own to climb a mountain, and spread her parents' ashes where they asked. She knows how to hike and camp, her parents used to do this with her. She now lives with her grandmother, who is worred about her going off by herself, but understands. Once out on the mountain, she runs into an older man and his sullen granddaughter, Ellie. Shortly after this, there is an electromagnetic pulse that kills Ellie's grandfather, while causing both Ellie and Alex to pass out. When Alex wakes back up, she notices things seem different. Her normal constant background headache is gone, and her sense of smell seems heightened. As she and Ellie walk towards the Ranger's cabin shown on the map they have, they encounter several obstacles. First is running into some teens Alex had seen in the parking lot. Only now, they're eating the dead bodies of the other campers at a campsite. Alex and Ellie must run away, and the next danger they find is a pack of wild dogs, also out to kill and eat them it seems. While trying to escape the dogs, a guy in his 20's attacks them, zombie like. They are saved by a guy named Tom who shoots this guy. Tom, Ellie, and Alex get to the Rangers' station and stay there for a while as the weather turns to winter. Soon Tom realizes that older cars and trucks might still work, and they find an old truck that they fix up to try to escape and find more people and provisions. As they travel they get attacked by people who steal their truck, and kidnap Ellie. It seems all kids have changed into the zombies, and only people older than 60 seem to have lived. But since Ellie is a child who has not changed, there are settlements that will take them in. They shoot Tom in the scuffle, and now Alex must try to save him and find Ellie. Tom is injured so bad he must stay behind, and then Alex must go on to this town, called Rule, to try to find Ellie. She gets to Rule, and finds a new type of civilization. And Alex must decide whether to stay in the somewhat safety of this town, or continue searching for Ellie, and now Tom has dissappeared as well.
I like the cause of the disaster in this book. I'm one of those people who has to know why people have become zombies, or everyone has died off, etc. And this book is the way I like it. I see the trend of electromagnetic pulses causing destruction in books. And I think it's a good thing to trend. We still have all the diseases causing the "end of the world", and that is still a concern, but the EMP is a new thing that is a real possibility as well. I like how in this book the EMP not only causes all the electronic equipment to quit, it also affects people and animals. Which, from a science teacher's point of view, is such a great thing to get kids thinking and asking questions. I've heard this called a dystopian book, but to me it's not, it's more of an apocalyptic story. Since we get to go along with all that happens from before until after the EMP. The storyline seems realistic to me. We have losses of characters, and they get injured and don't just miraculously have the main characters surviving it all unscathed. I'll definitely be putting this as a staff recommendation at the bookstore where I work, as well as suggesting it to the students at the school where I teach. Great book, and I can't wait for the sequel to find out what happens next.
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