Thursday, September 13, 2012
Book talk: The past few years have not been kind to Alex. First both of her parents die, then she gets diagnosed with cancer. Alex is sick of chemotherapy and sick of doctors and she's sick of getting sick. So she ditches the new experimental treatment her aunt signed her up for to go for a solo hike while she still can to spread her parents' ashes. Aunt Hannah isn't happy about it, but there's not much she can do. Her aunt should have been worrying about her own imminent death instead, but there wasn't anything she could do about that either. Alex never suspected that she'd outlive so many people. But now she has to fight for survival in a whole new way: find food, weapons, and shelter, protect those supplies from bandits, and avoid becoming a meal for the Changed.
Rocks my socks: Despite this not being the type of book I'd normally pick up, once I did I kept reading until past midnight when I finished it. Alex is a realistic and strong protagonist and I enjoyed reading about her. The other characters she encounters are layered and believable as well--even the minor ones. Bick is a child psychiatrist and former Air Force major which lends an unique perspective and expertise to the story. For what is essentially a zombie thriller there is a fair amount of time spent considering moral questions and delving into the characters' emotions. She accomplishes this without letting the pace lag.
Rocks in my socks: Bick repeatedly uses a structure that is a bit of a pet peeve of mine. She'll set up a scenario in a paragraph and then contradict the sentiment with a short line. Almost like she's afraid the reader will stop reading if she ends the chapter on a happy note so she sneaks an extra line in saying 'hey--don't worry it'll pick back up in a second!' Of course there's also some sketchy science involved with how the zombie apocalypse occurs, but I doubt it's possible to write an entirely realistic and scientifically accurate zombie apocalypse novel so that didn't bother me too much.
Every book its reader: I'd give this to teens looking for a fast-paced novel. Fans of zombies and/or wilderness survival will enjoy it in particular. There's an endorsement from James Dashner on the cover so it should be easy to convince the legions of Maze Runner fans to pick it up as well.
Ilsa Bick has her own website with the usual blog news updates as well as articles about film and television
There's a decent fan-made book trailer over at YouTube
Edgmont has a video up of Ilsa Bick talking about what she'd put in her survival pack
There's an interview with Bick over at Random Acts of Reading
Source: school library
Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick: Buy it or check it out today!