“Ashes” by Ilsa J. Bick review


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.”

My first book review. Bare with me, as I’m pretty sure I will learn by practice. Anyways, above is me in my pajama pants reading Ashes, curled up with my puppy (whose name is Ripley, by the way). I felt I should describe the picture above. I’m attempting to take my own pictures instead of getting them from different sources. We’ll see how that works out. Anyways, let’s get into the review.

I’m going to start by reviewing our main heroine Alex. This girl is in high school and is having to face something strange that isn’t the norm for high school problems (as most books start out, but it still captured me in a unique aspect). It’s the differences that draw us to the heroines that have flaws or challenges. As such, Alex is someone that is very easy to attach yourself to. I felt that as a heroine, Alex was incredible. If you’ve read anything from the back of the book, you’ll know that starting out, she hiked into the woods to deal with some very personal issues involving her deceased parents as well as another problem. So, right off the bat, you know she’s dealing with something that is very difficult. That’s even before the EMP hit happens.

Throughout this book, Alex was hit with one thing after another, yet because she was a smart and skilled camper and knew what she was doing, she was able to rely on her wits and not only get herself through certain situations, but others as well. She was very intelligent and she didn’t flail at the sign of trouble. Another thing she had going for her is that there are a lot of heroines that… the only way to describe it would be that they are amazing at something right off the bat and they know that they’re bad ass and that they’re the only one to handle situations. It really gets old. However, Alex doesn’t seem like that to me.

The main thing that this girl is trying to do is survive and she does it however she can and pushes through situations. However, there is no hair blowing in the wind as she does a hero stance and manages to look sexy even though she’s bleeding all over… Instead, she was written very realistically, and she definitely wasn’t a perfect little Mary-Sue. She had flaws, she made mistakes and she fought through as hard as she could.

It makes a reader really respect and relate to her.

The story was very gripping itself. I felt myself not wanting to put it down at all. I can’t tell you much about what Alex had to face without spoiling some of the book, so I’m not going to do that. But, just know that she had to face a lot. It was a very fast paced book, but there was also a lot of description in it as well. I felt that there was an incredible balance in that. The people that she meets along the way don’t feel at all similar to one another and they definitely have their own voices. That’s something that I feel some books tend to lack. With getting into other peoples heads, characters tend to sound similar and have similar view points. Ilsa handles this with grace and the characters are incredible and vastly different.

The story itself is incredible and it’s easy to gobble this book up. I found myself rooting intensively for the heroine and feeling like I was watching my friend go through all of this. These characters really start to feel like people you know deeply as you dive into this book. I had no problem falling into the story.

Another thing I really liked was that although there happened to be a little bit of love interest in it, the story wasn’t consumed by it. What I find in a lot of YA fiction is that it is focused on finding your one true love at such a young age. Ashes focuses more on survival and Alex getting to know herself and doing everything she can to get through a world. She makes connection with people, but she’s very wary and smart about it. I think there was even one point where she said that in this world, she didn’t have much time for thoughts such as love. That is something that was vastly refreshing about this book.

If you’re wondering how I feel about children reading this, I would say that you shouldn’t recommend it to anyone under 16 years old. There are a lot of intense, gory scenes. Though, honestly, I wouldn’t have had them any other way. So it’s very realistic for what this point in time would be like. But, if you’re judging it based on how the Hunger Games was, Ashes was a bit more descriptive. So, I’d say 16 and up.

This book was very remarkable. If you’re looking for a book with a dystopian feel that centers around survival and living in the middle of horror with a heroine that you find yourself cheering for and reading like she’s a close friend, pick up this book and you won’t regret it. On a scale of 1 – 10, I would give it a 9 and I recommend this book to anybody who wants to read an amazing book by an incredible author.

Also, I met the woman at Calvicade for Authors a week ago!


On the right is Ilsa. She was an incredible woman and talking to her was an amazing moment for me. On the left is Leigh Bardugo (author of the Grisha series and Six of Crows). I will be reading Six of Crows after I finish reading the Ashes Trilogy. I may not review those, as they’re sequels, and I may be prone to give spoilers, but I may change my mind. You’ll know when I put up by next book review.

Anyways, this is the end of my first review. I hope you enjoyed it, as well as I hope it was helpful and informative. I apologize if I was all over the place. The first review is always the toughest, is what I hear.

Have an amazing day and keep on reading!