Ashes by Ilsa J. BickAshes by Ilsa J. Bick


byIlsa J. Bick

Paperback | August 1, 2012

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An electromagnetic pulse flashes across the sky, destroying every electronic device, wiping out every computerized system, and killing billions. When it happens, Alex was hiking in 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.
Ilsa J. Bick is a child psychiatrist, as well as a film scholar, surgeon wannabe, former air force major, and award-winning author of short stories and novels. Ilsa lives with her family in Alabama.
Title:AshesFormat:PaperbackDimensions:480 pages, 8 × 5.13 × 1 inPublished:August 1, 2012Publisher:Lerner Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1606843850

ISBN - 13:9781606843857

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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Everyone Should Read This This book is full of action, it's intense, and it is so so smart. Everyone needs to read this book. This author is amazing. #plumreview
Date published: 2017-03-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Highly recommended! a great read! At the end of this book I was yelling out: OH MY..EFFEN GEE WHY DID IT END THIS WAY WHY WHY WHY? Because it was EXCELLENT! AND I STILL CAN’T GET OVER IT. Finally, I thought to myself, as I closed this book, a post apocalyptic plot that’s more realistic with no sugar coating and it’s all about survival. I felt myself turning the pages and staying up late to finish just one more chapter. It was so engaging and the plot itself was so well written it kept the reader near the edge of their seat. For almost every chapter, there was always something new Alex would encounter and she would have to find a way out to survive or overcome. She’d have to be one of the most strongest and resilient characters I have ever read without acting like a lovesick naive twit like you do in some post apocalyptic YA’s out there. There was only one moment where Alex seemed to have forgotten about both of her companions from her journey but, I suppose she was sidetracked for good reason. I especially enjoyed the particular moment where Alex develops her skill to “smell”. So what am I going to do? I think it’s about time to pay my library fines and take the second book out of the library (I’ve been slacking off about that) because I need to know what happens next!!! I most definitely recommend this book it’s an awesome read!!!
Date published: 2017-01-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Intense Actual rating: 4.5, but I rounded up cause I feel it deserves five over four. I really don't know what to rate this book. I love it, but the things that I don't like I really don't like. The writing is amazing - Ilsa J Bick is a strong, beautiful writer, that's for sure. The plot and events and even the romance - it is all so different, not different from each other or separate but different from any other dystopian book out there. I'm serious when I say that woah, this book is original. I LOVE how there are two love interests but they don't really collide with each other, and the whole cult thing with religion, the setup of Rule, how Bick doesn't concentrate on a fallen society where people are inhumane but touches on the things people will do to survive, the desperation, selfishness, people feel, and real people, not the zombies - just, wow. It really is intense and powerful and different. It's not your typical female heroin who saves the day and has so much pressure on her shoulders. The characters, the romance, the plot and the events and he story - it's all so different, and some may absolutely hate it but I love the complex originality that makes Ashes so great. The characters are all good, and I like Alex, I do. I've always liked stubborn, strong lead females but not unrealistically strong or empowered. Alex and her situation with her parents and her cancer makes her all the more likeable. I like the family element that is strong in the first half of the book - LOVE IT. The two guys: Tom and Chris. I love Tom - he's a more headstrong, caring, more down to earth guy - but I also really like Chris - a mysterious, dark guy. What Tom goes through, his whole part he lays breaks my heart. I hate Chris because he comes in second, when I already love Tom, but honestly, Chris is good, too, and I get that he's closed off and mysterious and has that whole brooding vibe but, god, give him some personality, just a little bit. So, yeah, I really am in favor of Tom. Another thing - the romance, family elements and characters, even Ellie, a little girl - all so out there, so different, so amazing. The writing is beautiful and Bick describes everything without losing my attention and is able to create a great book that is so realistic, an actual possibility one day, and the way that society crumbles but the side that she shows, about trust and love and honesty and loyalty, is truly magnificent. There are some parts, closer to the beginning, where I felt a bit disengaged with what's going on, and some characters, like Jess who I cant get a good feel for and who just - her personality confuses me, but maybe that's the point, and the Counsel of Five and the leaders all seem to drop off the map near the end. Also, I wish I had more thoughts on Alex's parts about the romance as her thing with Chris develops, I want opinions on Tom, because- well, because you'll find out if you read this book, which I strongly suggest you do. It's a great read, and if it feels slow because it's so descriptive, keep reading, It gets better, although at some parts, Bick lets me down a bit. But I LOVE the writing. It conveys emotion - sometimes too little, but that's okay - and she can craft a story and events like you would not believe. Ashes is great, I love it, and I cannot wait to get my hands on the next one.
Date published: 2014-04-06
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not for Adults who do not normally read YA novels Review was originally posted on my book review blog In the first novel of Ilsa J. Bick's Ashes Trilogy explores what happens to the world when all the electricity is suddenly turned off: Alex has planned a hike into the woods to say goodbye to her parents, who were killed years earlier as well as attempt to come to terms with her own personal demons, or as Alex called it the monster in her brain. Alex has a terminal brain tumor which is beyond the help of treatment, even experimental treatment. Alex is not too sure how much longer she has left to live. Happening in only a split second, a large electromagnetic pulse flashes overhead eliminating the world’s electricity. Alex herself has changed whether for the good or bad, the pulse has changed the world and chaos has ensued; now Alex is trying everything she can to survive. I did not realize that the protagonist within this novel was going to 17 when I picked it up and honestly just based upon her age I would have not read this book, as YA is not a genre I venture into (my own fault for not reading the premise of the book...oops, went purely on instinct on this pick). I actually thought that I was picking up an adult horror/dystopia, which is a genre that a really love and have not read too much of late. However, I was glad that I picked it up. I found for the most part that Alex's life and experiences aged her mentally beyond her years that I was able to relate to her in some ways. I personally would not classify this novel as a horror. I did not have that scared, need to keep the lights on feeling as I was reading it. I think that this is due to the lack of overall suspense within the novel. There were events where you know that Bick is trying to create suspenseful moments, however, I did not feel that she was able to actually get there. However, I did like that none of the characters (outside of Alex) were truly safe to the events that were happening around them. These characters could be there one moment and not the next, which adds to the sense of never knowing what could happen next, just the scenarios in which these events occurred did not reach a suspenseful state for me. (Not too sure if that makes sense, but I never felt like I was sitting on the edge of my seat Needing to know what happened next, I had already figured it out). During the latter parts of the book I lost my ability to relate to Alex. Alex became the whiny teenager who is only thinking about herself. I had come to like Alex and her ability to survive but I found that I was unable to relate to her in this part of the book. Instead of challenging things like an adult (basically how she had been portrayed through most of the book, minus some insecurities in the romance department) Bick decided that now would be the point that Alex would act as a teen. I understand that this is a YA novel, but if you spend the majority of the book with your teen acting like an adult as this is their character to do so, then I think that Bick should have continued on this path. I think that by continuing to have Alex act like an adult would have made the flow of the story more consistent as well as keep me engaged with Alex's character. I also found it strange that Alex could not figure out what had happened to "monster" in her brain and how the treatments that she had had in the past would have changed with the flash. If the reader can figure it out right away, there is no reason that Alex should not be able to. I wish that Bick would have been more consistent in her character portrayal of Alex, however, she does leave the end of the story at a cliff-hanger so I am going to read the next book in the series but it is not at the top of my list. I think that those people who do enjoy dystopia YA novel (either young or old readers) will like this novel, but I think if you do not normally read within the YA genre you may want to leave this one alone. Enjoy!!!
Date published: 2012-10-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from It's the end-of-the-word-as-we-know-it We learn quite a lot about the feisty heroine, Alex, in the prologue of Ilsa J. Bick’s dynamite YA novel, Ashes. She’s stubborn. Aunt Hannah tells us that. “…once you’ve made up your mind, there’s no talking to you,” she says. She’s seventeen. And she has “a brain tumor the size of a tennis ball” lodged in her head. Alex is on the run, sort of. She’s decided not to do any more of the experimental treatments for her brain tumor – so she’s left her Aunt Hannah and headed to Waucamaw Wilderness in Michigan to clear her head and scatter the ashes of her parents, who had been killed in a helicopter crash. Alex is enjoying the solitude of the woods until Jack, his granddaughter, Ellie and their dog Mina happen by. Ellie is eight and is clearly not happy to be tramping through the woods. By page 25, Jack is dead and Alex and Ellie are running for their lives. By page 72 both Alex and the reader know they aren’t in Kansas anymore. When she and Ellie stumble into a camp site, this is what Alex sees: "The boy and girl were eating. Stuffing their faces, actually. Splashes of blood smeared their mouths and dripped over their chins like runny clown’s makeup. With a grunt, the boy plunged his fist into the woman’s abdomen and rooted around before coming back up with a drippy fistful of something liverish and soft enough that Alex could hear the squelch as the meaty thing oozed between his fists" It’s a waking nightmare. But these flesh eating teens aren’t the only thing Alex has to contend with. For one thing, she’s completely cut off from the rest of the world. She is quickly running out of supplies. Winter is coming. This is one of those no-holds-barred works of fiction that teens will love. I think boys will especially love it because it really has a gross-out factor. As the story went on, it did make me think about Patrick Ness’s novel The Knife of Never Letting Go a little. Like that book, Bick’s novel stretches out beyond the confines of teen against supernatural/fantasy/strange forces/etc and starts to tackle some other questions. What does it mean to be free, for example. Who is trustworthy and how can we be sure they don’t just have a personal agenda? Ashes has a crazy mythology: part religious fanaticism, part survival of the fittest. As Alex tries to figure out what has happened to the world…and herself (because she isn’t the same anymore either), Bick continues to introduce new perils and characters we must decide – as must Alex – whether or not we can trust. Ashes is the first book in a trilogy and I will definitely be continuing on with the series. Bick’s writing is crisp and fast-paced. Alex is a great character – smart and resourceful. Although the book is written in the third person, it’s a limited point of view – so it feels like first person narration. You really do see everything through Alex’s filter. And holy-ol’-cliffhanger. Great book!
Date published: 2012-10-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great book, better when there is a sequel Now that I am finished this book, I feel that it deserves five stars because the last 200 pages were so gripping. The first 300 pages I had trouble with, they were interesting, but a complete let down after having read all the reviews about how great this book is. I realize they were needed as background, but it made me feel ripped of, and not to give anything away, but i feel like im missing the second half of my book. The best recommendation I can make is that when the sequel comes out, and there will be one, wait and read them both together. Hopefully that will make the story seem more filled in.
Date published: 2011-11-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One heck of a thriller! Ashes is a really unique and surprisingly terrifying look at what could happen after an electromagnetic pulse. Alex's world changes in an instant and suddenly she has to fight to survive when she had been ready to leave it. You'll be hooked from page one with absolutely blood pounding scenes and the surprises that comes out of nowhere. This was an awesome read and I for one am desperate for book two Shadows. Read this one! ~~~ In Ashes, an EMP, electromagnetic pulse, leaves an immediate destruction of electrical devices and countless deaths in its wake. It's something I've heard of but never before seen play out and it makes for a unique and thrilling story. Alex is embarking on a solo camping trip, trying to escape all the pressures she has to deal with and just be. She's got an inoperable brain tumor. She's done with treatment and wants to live what life she has left. So when an older man and his young granddaughter Ellie stop through her campsite, she's less than thrilled. The little girl's got a serious attitude problem and she can't wait for them to leave her alone again. Out of the blue a brain piercing whine cuts through the air and brings everyone to their knees in pain. Birds fall from the sky, deer throw themselves off cliffs, millions die in an instant, some survive and others are changed. Sound good? It was! So so enthralling. Unlike anything I've read before, I was hooked from page one. The first half of the book was an intense ride. Alex discovers what's happened to some people, how they changed. And it's not pretty. At all. It was actually really terrifying! Gruesome and graphic, it definitely gives you a front row seat to how much has changed in such a short amount of time. Alex then meets up with Tom, a former soldier suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He hasn't changed either, and no one knows why. I really liked the psychological elements thrown in (the author's a child psychiatrist!) and I really liked the science part, even if I didn't understand it. The pulse seemed to affect individuals differently but I never got a clear picture why. There were some explanations for some people but for others it was still a big question mark. Hopefully it'll become clearer in the next book. Now at about the halfway mark is when I had a little issue. There was a major event that happened pages prior, and when I turned to the next chapter, time had jumped ahead a couple days! I was so confused I really thought the e-copy somehow had a missing chapter, because how could there be such a jump and no explanation as to what just happened? So after that I was a little frustrated. On top of that, it seemed that the story totally changed after this point. There was a different objective, followed by different challenges, settings and characters. It was like a different story had started, a good one nonetheless, but it was such an awkward way to transition into it. However, despite the huge jump, and my frustrations about it, the second half of the story was still as engaging as the first half. Alex manages to find a small town of survivors and as time passes, Alex, and myself, start to feel that something was 'off'. There was a complicated hidden agenda going down and until I was reading it I had no idea what to expect. The build up of secret meetings and developing feelings and uncovering what was being planned was thrilling and had me absolutely glued to the last few chapters. And how it ends? Absolute torture. Torture! I can't believe I have to wait a year for Shadows *fumes*. I'm sure it'll be worth it though! Review also here:
Date published: 2011-09-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it! This was one of the best YA novels that I have read in a very long time and I can't wait to read the next book in the series. Alex is one tough character, she's right up there with Ellen Ripley from the Alien franchise and she is a refreshing change from the normally vapid teenage characters that are so often found in many of the YA novels.
Date published: 2011-09-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Epic Post Apocolyptic Story For some reason, this book has taken me some time to wrap my head around and review, maybe it is because if I had to describe it in one word it would be "epic". I read it, or shall I say, tore right through it, but then had to think about it for a bit. I loved the book, even if it was very different from what I expected - it is definitely a story of survival and horror. Even with its love triangle, Ashes is definitly different from the other YA romance dystopian books out there. The beginning is really good and fast paced - we learn about Alex and her condition in a concise and intriguing way. Bick has me turning the pages to see what will happen next and how the scenario plays out. It is a book where everything goes from bad to worse, then worse again, then even worse again. The writing is vivid and imaginataive with some interesting phrasing (though there is the odd bit of distracting grammar), and this definitely applies to the gory bits - this book is quite brutal and has a great deal of graphic violence. However, Bick's writing really drew me in and I loved how she was able to create tension, even when there wasn't much action. She also used omnicient narrator quips that set reader up for tension, because we then know things that the characters don't. The story is told from Alex's point of view (but not first person present as so many books are right now), and I really felt for her. Alex is a strong heroine, capable, intelligent and likable, but in a horrible situation. I absolutely loved Ellie, the young girl that Alex finds herself looking after. She has some great, honest reactions that feel authentic to her age. I liked Tom as well, the army veteran and love interest for Alex, but I also felt a bit reserved about him, though I am not positive why. Maybe he just felt a little more stereotypical. Then there are the dogs, I love the addition of all of the dogs and how they add to the book. Probably my favorite part of this book, and something I have found with other zombie type books lately, is the exploration of human nature and how people act in stressful or lawless situations. I love how Bick delves into what is a monster - is it cancer? is it zombies? is it people who have free will and act in ways they never would under normal circumstances? She also gets into the roles of hope and fate and freedom. Ashes ends with a great cliffanger and I can hardly wait to read the next book in this series. I would highly recommend this book to those who like zombie books or who don't mind graphically brutal scenes, but who like a good post-apocolyptic story.
Date published: 2011-09-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Review of Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick As you have most likely come to realize if you have been reading my reviews for any length of time, I can be quite harsh on books. Some people have even asked me why I continue to read and review books if I find it so hard to like them. The answer is simple really. I do it for the "gems", the ones that come along and surprise you with their awesomeness. Ashes is one such book. Ashes was brilliant! Let me just say that right now. If you haven't read it I suggest you rush out now (well tomorrow when it is officially released) and pick up this book and devour it! The first thing that impressed me about Ashes was how the reader is immediately immersed in the story. There is no long drawn out description of the setting, the weather, the house, are thrown into the middle of a heated telephone conversation that tells you everything you need to know....the main character is terminally ill and obviously fed up with her never-ending treatments, her parents are dead and she has taken off from her aunt's place where she is now staying so she can have a much needed mental health break. This is all explained to the reader through realistic dialogue the engages the reader instead of boring them to death with lines and lines of poorly written back story. And the last line of the first chapter leaves you haunted and dying to know what happens next. "They never spoke to one another again." I love the author's amazingly descriptive vocabulary. She is never afraid to hold back and describes everything like it is. "Hadn't done the woman any good either, judging from the way her guts boiled out in a dusky, desiccated tangle, like limp spaghetti." I love her for that! A few times I stopped and asked myself if this amount of gore was appropriate for the YA genre, but Hell, I was reading Stephen King during my "YA" years because books like this weren't really available for us. And I don't have any serious mental problems...I think... I loved the short chapters that were just long enough to not be ridiculous, but weren't too long to bore you. Sometimes people like to read in bursts and often people feel they have to finish at the end of a chapter. Ashes gives you lots of opportunities to do so. That is just something I always appreciate in a book. As an animal lover I always enjoy when animals are added to a story, and not just for shock value so you can kill them off. I hate nothing more than an author who throws in a family dog just to kill them off because that way they can get some shock value without hurting an actual person. Well newsflash! Sometimes people bond closer with animals, especially dogs, than they do with the characters themselves, and just sometimes killing off those animals pointlessly really irritates the readers. Can you tell I really hate when authors do that? Luckily Ms. Bick isn't THAT kind of writer. The animals in Ashes play a specific role and they burden a nice portion of the story on their furry little shoulders. I love that! Some of the animals in this book are as important as the main characters and you develop a bond with them so strong you hurt when they hurt, just as much as you do (if not more) when something happens to the main characters. The story houses some great mysterious qualities that you feel compelled to search out. Nothing is right out in the open and people are very guarded with their motives and emotions. It keeps the readers guessing and invested in the story. I can't wait to read the other two books in the trilogy so I can finally learn just what the Hell is going on! Some minor things that did bother me about Ashes were the endings of a few chapters that were meant to be foreshadowing, but after a while just got irritating. Always something along the lines "later she would wonder if things might have turned out differently if she hadn't just..." It was a little repetitive and just seemed forced at times. Also, the ending really pissed me off. It made me so mad I swore out loud. My boyfriend looked at me like I was about to murder him. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't a horrible ending...the problem was that I was unaware it was meant to be the first book in a trilogy, and if I had of known in advance I would have expected some type of cliffhanger. This one smacked me in the face so hard I was left in shock, mostly because it was unexpected, and also because the story was moving so fast at this point and I was just waiting to get to the end, to find out things, and then boom, no more. I think I almost cried. I even called out the poor author on which she responded very kindly. I love authors like that who interact back with their eased the blow...a little...that and I made her promise to send me the next book (Shadows) as soon as it was available... ...and so I wait...
Date published: 2011-09-05

Editorial Reviews

Gripped me from beginning to end – dark, creepy and suspenseful.  James Dashner, New York Times Best-Selling author of The Maze Runner and The Scorch Trials                  A haunting and epic story of survival in a shattered world, ASHES is a must read.   Michael Grant, New York Times Best-Selling author of Gone “…a harrowing apocalyptic survival tale that brims with true horror….Ashes inhabits the same dark country as The Stand (and is, in fact, delightfully King-esque at times) or Justin Cronin’s recent viral apocalypse The Passage…. Bick’s ability to convincingly render the mindset of people exposed to horrors and those still living with them makes not just Alex but all the characters around her feel real enough that we ache for them.”  Locus Magazine The gorgeous (and disturbing cover) is sure to grab attention; an impeccable sci-fi/horrorbalance, quick pace, and risky storytelling all live up to the jacket’s promise.  The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books An action-packed tale of an apocalypse unfolding, launching a trilogy with flair.   Publishers Weekly                  Gritty, grim, grotesque, gruesome, gratifying and ultimately deeply satisfying, Ashes is this year's best ya dystopian novel. Pamela Thompson,  El Paso Times Sunday Living   Splendidly paced apocalyptic zombie horror ends with a thrilling, terrifying cliffhanger and a number of unresolved mysteries.   Kirkus Reviews You won't want to put it down and, quite frankly, it blows the rest of those dismal-future books clean out of the water.  Donna at Bites, Ashes is disaster done right, it has to be one of the best disaster books I have read in a long while... I cannot recommend this book enough.  (Five Stars) It's like the Walking Dead, but in a YA novel…. I can't wait for the sequel!   Hallie Wilkins, age 16, Anderson's Bookshops Dystopia on steroids, exactly what it should be.  Pamela, Hickelbees, San Jose, CA  Front and center we have my current obsession, Ilsa Bick's Ashes, which is like Justin Cronin's The Passage for the YA set.   Suzanna Hermans, co-owner of Oblong Books & Music in Rhinebeck, N.Y If Cormac McCarthy and Justin Cronin bore a lovechild (I read The Passage directly following ASHES), Ilsa J. Bick would be their bouncing baby girl. A. Ragheb,   “Great writing. Fantastic plot. Likeable characters. Mt. Everest-type cliffhanger. It all makes for a fabulous book -- for young adult readers and adults alike.” – (Chicago)  “Ashes is one that fans of Suzanne Collins's trilogy will surely devour. …What will really grab readers is the wonderful narrative that carries Ashes through every shocking, unexpected plot twist. Bick clearly has a natural gift for storytelling, and here she has crafted a compelling story that will suck you in.” (national)  “An easy read with engaging characters and an intriguing plot. …This novel is gripping and intense but very dark…it's not a book for the faint of heart or young and may leave readers checking for their flashlights and battery-operated radios — just in case.” –Deseret News