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Reviews of Ilsa J. Bick’s Ashes Trilogy

bick_ashesAshes [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_shadowsShadows [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_monstersMonsters [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.



  1. Bacilia Garcia says:

    hands down this is one of the best things i have ever read. i have just recently finished the trilogy and let me tell you, i loved it. i am a little disappointed about the ending but besides that the trilogy was just amazing. when i first read ashes i could not put the book down. it took me a little longer to get my hands on shadows but when i did boy.. monster was my absolute undoing i love Wolf don’t get me wrong Tom is an amazing character Chris and Peter and not to mention Ellie. when Alex has to leave Tom to search for help i think my heart was actually broken. When Alex gets to Rule my whole world was slowly closing in.How was Alex suppose to help tom When she…well you read the book anyway I love the trilogy and besides the little let down in the end i will have all three book on my bookshelf

  2. I’ve read many books in my life, even though I’m not that old. I read many utopian and a few series on apocolyptic societies, and this is most definitely the best out of all of them. I agree that the ending to Monsters was kind of unsatisfying, but good enough to wrap up the amazing trilogy. I was anxious the entire time, and I really did want to cry when Alex and Tom and Ellie were separated like that. Overall, I think this is hands down my favorite series.

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