Reviews of Ilsa J. Bick’s Ashes Trilogy

bick ashes Reviews of Ilsa J. Bicks Ashes TrilogyAshes [Ashes Trilogy]
by Ilsa J. Bick
High School    Egmont    468 pp.
9/11    978-1-60684-175-4    $17.99

An electromagnetic pulse kills most of the country’s population instantly; many of those left become zombielike, “brain-zapped” cannibals. Survivor Alex teams up with eight-year-old Ellie and soldier Tom to search for other people. The trio’s deepening bond adds to the already high tension. This horror/survival story (with extremely graphic violence) presents an intriguing take on zombie fiction.

bick shadows Reviews of Ilsa J. Bicks Ashes TrilogyShadows [Ashes Trilogy]
by Ilsa J. Bick
High School    Egmont    520 pp.
9/12    978-1-60684-176-1    $17.99

In this middle volume of an anticipated trilogy (beginning with Ashes), Alex continues to hover on the edge of sanity and survival as she fights the zombies created by a cataclysmic electromagnetic pulse; avoids the creepy powers that sent her out of a protected community and into the wilderness; and searches for her missing love. All of these endeavors would be derailed quickly should her brain cancer, which thanks to the EMP disappeared along with most of humanity, suddenly return. It’s quite a lot for one girl, however tough, to take, and she crumbles often, eliciting both reader sympathy and exasperation. The shifting narrative perspective to other central characters offers both an extended view on what is happening in each of several key locations and a break from Alex’s misery. Dystopian and apocalypse buffs, as well as fans of the earlier novel, will find this an exceptionally well-developed look at one way in which the end of the world could play out. However, given the gore, crushing desolation, and dearth of joy, they will likely hope the final volume comes up with something that even faintly resembles a happy ending.

bick monsters Reviews of Ilsa J. Bicks Ashes TrilogyMonsters [Ashes Trilogy]
by Ilsa J. Bick
High School    Egmont    821 pp.
9/13    978-1-60684-177-8    $18.99

A brutal, stunning, and compellingly written trilogy (Ashes; Shadows, rev. 9/12) comes to a close as Alex, who had been destined to die of a brain tumor just before the world effectively ended, is still battling nature, herself, the humans who have turned into monsters, and the other “normal” humans whose ethics seem rather monstrous as well. Tom and Ellie are still separated from Alex, each struggling to survive and find his or her place in this constantly horrifying world (though Bick excels at always acknowledging the spark of hope that keeps everyone fighting to live in spite of incessant danger and hardships). The frequent cliffhangers created by chapters that focus on different characters wear a bit thin but are a logical choice given the division of the three protagonists around whom the first book was focused. Fans may initially find the length daunting, but there are few wasted scenes and ample chances to say goodbye to these beleaguered characters, who all deserve better but whose outcomes absolutely fit the tone of the postapocalyptic scenario.

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