Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Ali reviews: Ashes Trilogy by Ilsa J. Bick

The three books in this trilogy are Ashes, Shadows and Monsters. I don’t want to spoil anything so I’ll be mainly talking about Ashes, but I do want to mention Monsters because it does somewhat effect how I felt about the series.

So to start of, Ashes introduces us to Alex, a teenager dying from a brain tumour who’s out on a hike when an electromagnetic pulse occurs, killing elderly people while teenagers get turned into Zombie-like creatures. Alex teams up with a young girl named Ellie and a twenty-something war veteran named Tom in a fight for survival. Ashes is an interesting read, mainly in part to an interesting heroine. Her brain tumour immediately sets her apart, in both her attitude and her actions, and Tom is not the usual love interest either. The zombies aren’t particular anything new in the beginning but given time they’ll start to surprise you as well.

The one thing I dislike about them is the excessive use of gore. Don't get me wrong, I get that gore is a part of a zombie concept and I’m usually okay with gore in a book format (movies, not so much). But Ashes tends to repeat the same gross imagery; the first time a couple of the particularly nasty ones cropped up I skipped them and then it reached a point where it was a little ‘ho hum, the zombie is eating someone’s eyeball again’. I don’t know, that one may just be me; as I said, I’m not a fan of gore so perhaps if I was it would be a little more ‘heck yeah, dismemberment!’ If you’ve read the series, let me know which side of the fence you sit on with this – and if you haven’t read the series, let me know generally!

Beyond that, the further you get into the Ashes trilogy, the weirder it starts to become. I did continue to enjoy it, but I feel like it would probably start to alienate some readers, particularly by the time you get to the third book with Monsters. I don’t want to talk about it too much in case I spoil it, but as a bit of a preview, in Ashes Alex develops super smell (that happens fairly early so I feel it's okay to mention) but more things develop (particularly in a bad guy) that are bit… interesting. They don’t go super-powered or anything, I just feel like it starts to stretch into a different concept then what the rest of the series was (aka just a zombie book). Which is good in some ways and as I said, I still liked it. But I don't think it would be something everyone enjoys.

The last thing I want to do is have a bit of a rant about the ending of Monsters. I won’t spoil it, don’t worry, but unfortunately Bick does the one thing I really can’t stand in an author; she gets lazy. Regardless of whether or not that was her ‘vision’, it’s a bit of a band-aid. It has an ending, don’t get me wrong, but I did put the book down with disappointment. I do understand the difficulty endings can be; everyone has their own vision and their own way of doing things. But I would’ve liked to have seen more to finish up a decent, although strange in the end, series.

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