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Ashes Hardcover – September 6, 2011

4.1 out of 5 stars 275 customer reviews

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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/horror
balance, 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, www.bitemybooks.com
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) www.readforyourfuture.org
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, randomactsofreading.com  
“Great writing. Fantastic plot. Likeable characters. Mt. Everest-type cliffhanger. It all makes for a fabulous book -- for young adult readers and adults alike.” –Examiner.com (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.” ---Examiner.com (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

About the Author

Ilsa J. Bick is a child psychiatrist, as well as a film scholar, former Air Force major, and now a full-time author. Her critically acclaimed first YA novel, Draw the Dark, won the 2011 Westchester Fiction Award and was named a Bank Street College 2011 Best Book. Ilsa currently lives with her family and several furry creatures in rural Wisconsin, near a Hebrew cemetery.  One thing she loves about the neighbors: they’re very quiet and only come around for sugar once in a blue moon. You can visit her online at www.ilsajbick.com.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: EgmontUSA; First Edition edition (September 6, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1606841750
  • ISBN-13: 978-1606841754
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.4 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (275 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #862,866 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Becky (in NOLA) TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 31, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Alex is camping in the woods, saying goodbye to her parents and facing her own mortality, when ZAP, the world changes. What makes Ashes work for me is not only great writing but the characters are believable. Alex is mature because her circumstances have made her so. Tom is a young soldier so it's believable he knows about guns, EMS, etc. Ellie is an 8 year old who dad has died, who has seen her grandfather die in front of her, and while she's whiny, selfish, and immature, well she's 8. Her behavior is believable, as is her maturing quickly because she has to.

None of the characters are perfect, no "Mary Sues" here, but as a reader I became very quickly invested in each of them, their strengths and their flaws, both well written. Alex's voice as the narrator is pitch perfect in a world gone crazy. The zombies aren't so much zombies as crazed humans, more like the rage-infected types in the movie "28 days later." They have some cunning and thinking abilities that make them even scarier monsters.

As Alex, Tom, and Ellie try to survive and find safety, they soon realize not all the monsters are the zombies. One of the great things about Ashes is nothing is tied in a pretty bow. It's gritty, and shows the ugly side of humanity and what people will do to survive or just how awful some people can become without the rules of society to stop them.

Ashes has a ton of twists and turns that are unexpected, the last third of the book is almost like another story but it works within the frame of the plot. Ashes is the first of a trilogy and it doesn't end neatly. There are a lot of unanswered questions. I can't wait until books 2 and 3. I want to stalk down the author and make her tell me what's next!

Ashes is an intense, engrossing book that keeps the reader guessing, isn't conventional in storyline, and I highly recommend it.
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Format: Paperback
A fast-paced, riveting read.

"It was that stages-of-anger thing. I was shocked and then I got pissed and then I fought like hell ... and then I went numb. They called it acceptance, but it wasn't. It's what happens when you have only two choices: live with the monster, or kill yourself."

"Alex thought the shrink was full of shit. Her parents were dead. She knew that. The dream was all about her life jumping the rails, blowing up in her face, leaving her with nothing but ashes."

If I had to pick my favorite dystopian reads, Ashes would be right up there at the top of it (along with Hunger Games, 1984, Blood Red Road, Gone, and Enclave). I've read Ashes twice, and each time, it gripped me with an iron fist until the end (and even after). When I wasn't reading it, I was thinking about the latest twist in the story and after finishing last December, I obsessed about the crazy cliffhanger for months... actually, right up until the the day I got my hands on the sequel!!

Ashes starts out with an almost-teary goodbye with Alex's aunt on the phone because she's about to hike out into the mountains for a week-long trip before she becomes too weak (she has terminal cancer - heartbreaking, I know). But of course, our resourceful protagonist can't just die! She meets this old guy and his 8-year-old granddaughter while sitting on top of a mountain, and suddenly, some kind of invisible laser of intense pain (you'll have to read Ashes to find out what it really is!!) attacks all of them, leaving the man dead, Ellie weeping, and Alex... different. Cancer had taken away her sense of smell but somehow, she can now smell everything around her, including things normal people can't smell like fear and lies.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Ashes tells the story of Alex, a young woman of uncommon strength who finds herself in the middle of nowhere on the day an Electromagnetic Pulse sweeps the planet, killing millions, wiping out everything electronic, and turning most young people to zombies. There's a lot going on here and the author does a fantastic job juggling all of these issues while creating a story that is both thought provoking and suspenseful. The reader is left to question right along with Alex, where did the EMP come from? Why were some people spared? Why are only young people changed into flesh eating monsters? Most importantly, why does she now have super sensing abilities, and what impact does this have on her untreatable brain tumor?

Alex narrates this tale with a voice that is strong and authentic. She is a character that readers will become fully invested in as she starts out this story trying desperately to take control of her own death, and soon finds herself with new reasons to live in the face of world wide destruction. Ellie, the young girl she meets on the mountain wins the award for the most obnoxious nine year old ever written, but you love her anyway. Along with Tom, the soldier with a mysterious past, these three strive to make their way in a world turned upside down. All three characters are very well done and kept me glued to the page.

At about two thirds of the way in, the story enters a new phase. New issues arise when Alex encounters the town of Rule and we get a good solid look at what can happen to an already closed society when the end of the world really does come about. What the book loses here in suspense, it makes up for in creepiness as we meet a bunch of new characters and an entirely new set of questions arise.
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