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Ashes (Ashes Trilogy Series #1)

Ashes (Ashes Trilogy Series #1)

4.4 145
by Ilsa J. Bick

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It could happen tomorrow . . .
An electromagnetic pulse flashes across the sky, destroying every electronic device, wiping out every computerized system, and killing billions.
Alex hiked into 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


It could happen tomorrow . . .
An electromagnetic pulse flashes across the sky, destroying every electronic device, wiping out every computerized system, and killing billions.
Alex hiked into 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.

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

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
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

Publishers Weekly
Bick delivers an action-packed tale of an apocalypse unfolding, launching a trilogy with flair. While camping in a national park in Michigan, 17-year-old Alex, a girl coping with a brain tumor and the side effects of its treatment, survives a series of electromagnetic pulses that may have taken out the entire world. Miles from nowhere, she hikes with new companions—an obstinate eight-year-old orphan named Ellie and a young soldier named Tom—as they try to make sense of things. Aside from wrecking their equipment, the pulse has killed most adults and morphed young people into psychotic flesh-eating monsters that are soon dubbed the Changed. Alex is different, too (her formerly dead sense of smell is now nearly supernaturally strong), and the companions worry about their own potential to "Change" as they attempt to find other survivors. Bick (Draw the Dark) doesn't shy away from gore—one woman's guts "boiled out in a dusky, desiccated tangle, like limp spaghetti"—but it doesn't derail the story's progress. If readers have any complaint, it will be with the ending, which only sets up the next book. Ages 14–up. (Sept.)
VOYA - Matthew Weaver
Bick takes the best of post-apocalyptic, zombie fiction, like Cormac McCarthy's The Road (Vintage Books, 2007) and Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead graphic novel series (Image Comics, 2006-2011), and adds the exact thing that has been sorely lacking from those genres: girl power, and in a heaping dose. Seeking reprieve from a terminal sentence, orphan Alex decides to spend her last days in the wilderness. When she meets a kindly old man and his snotty granddaughter, Ellie, Alex is eager to be alone, but noone is prepared for an electromagnetic pulse that leaves the old man dead and Alex with a recovered sense of smell and the new ability to discern fear. There are also a whole mess of ravenous adolescent cannibals, paranoid adults, and a ticked-off eight-year-old. A child psychiatrist, aspiring surgeon, and former Air Force major, Bick has the background necessary to craft her tale, as her heroine faces situations that make the Hunger Games look like a tea party. Deceptively simple at first, the story is infused with science and real-life elements that lend further credence as the action picks up steam. Bick proves adept at tugging at heartstrings while gearing up for the next dreadful thing waiting around the corner. Oh sure, there are a few love interests in the mix, but do not mistake Alex for the shrinking-violet paranormal wisps or kick-rump world saviors flooding the YA market. She is better: a real girl with brains and heart, just trying to survive in a world that is out to eat her alive. Reviewer: Matthew Weaver
School Library Journal
Gr 10 Up—A ragtag group—a teen with an inoperable and terminal brain tumor on a journey to find closure, a young soldier on leave running from personal demons, and an angry little girl whose grandfather has taken her on a backpacking trip after the death of her father—have two important things in common: the electromagnetic pulse that ripped through the sky while they were hiking in the Waucamaw Wilderness didn't kill them, and it did not change them into crazed, flesh-eating zombies. Now they are trying to stay alive and keep as far away from the zombies as possible. However, the greatest threat to their survival may come from other survivors. In the gore, violence, and disturbing societal constructions of this postapocalyptic/zombie thriller, readers will see echoes of Suzanne Collins's "Hunger Games" series (Scholastic), Patrick Ness's "Chaos Walking" series (Candlewick), and James Dashner's "The Maze Runner" series (Delacorte), making this an excellent choice for those searching for more along the same lines. The novel is equal parts horrifying and riveting, and many teens will be compelled to devour it in one sitting. But be forewarned: not a single plot point is wrapped up, so readers who like things neatly solved better wait until the whole trilogy is out.—Heather M. Campbell, formerly at Philip S. Miller Library, Castle Rock, CO
Kirkus Reviews

When civilization ends and you're faced with an army of face-eating, nuclear-mutant zombies, having a brain tumor doesn't seem so bad.

Alex, orphaned, 17 and dying, decides she's sick of pointless chemo. She bugs out of school for a backpacking trip in the wilderness, determined to make her own end. Just a few days into her trip something terrible happens: A horrible, screeching pain knocks her senseless, kills an elderly backpacker and sends scores of dead birds falling from the sky. Wild dogs in the area seem to have run mad, and did Alex actually see two teenagerseatingan old woman? Along with two fellow survivors—bratty middle schooler Ellie and Tom, a young soldier on leave—Alex seeks safety. Alex and Tom are both outdoorsy, but for every cache of weapons and MREs they find, another horrible event takes place. Their gun-toting survivalism only keeps them safe for so long in a post-apocalyptic America in which most of the other young people have been Changed to cannibals. The requisite creepy cultist village raises excellent questions of trust and society. Alex can't survive on her Glock alone; she needs supplies, knowledge, allies and affection.

Splendidly paced apocalyptic zombie horror ends with a thrilling, terrifying cliffhanger and a number of unresolved mysteries.(Horror. 12-15)

Product Details

Lerner Publishing Group
Publication date:
Ashes Trilogy Series
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.39(w) x 7.97(h) x 1.11(d)
HL730L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Ilsa J. Bick is a child psychiatrist, film scholar, former Air Force major, and now a full-time author. Her critically acclaimed, award-winning YA novels include Draw the Dark, Drowning Instinct, and Ashes (a 2011 VOYA Perfect Ten).  Ilsa currently lives 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.  Visit her online at www.ilsajbick.com or adr3nalin3.blogspot.com and follow her on Facebook and Twitter @ilsajbick.

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Ashes 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 145 reviews.
BookPortrait More than 1 year ago
Really 4.5 stars Ashes is, without a doubt, unlike anything that I've ever read. With an interesting cast of characters, imagined situations that became all too real, and constant surprises, Ashes is an edge-of-your-seat read the entire way through. Alex is tired of living with a brain tumor, tired of the constant treatment attempts, tired of having other people not know how to react to her. She decides to go on a final wilderness hike and spend some time in the seclusion of nature. And then an electromagnetic pulse sweeps through the world, killing a vast majority of people, rendering electronic devices useless, and changing the world as Alex knew it. She soon finds herself with an unwanted traveling companion and trying to survive with just what was in her pack. And then Alex meets Tom, a former soldier who is also trying to survive in this world. They work together to make a life in the wake of all the destruction, all the while worrying that they may end up changing into little more than animals, as other humans have. But they eventually realize that they can't stay hidden in the woods forever, and then the real adventure begins... Because of the nature of this book, it's hard to say much without giving something away. The suspense, the constant obstacles, and the emotional journey are what make this book riveting; the characters were just as compelling as the action. Ashes is post-apocalyptic rather than dystopian, and both Alex and Tom have some basic survival skills; this allows the story to focus on deeper issues, including learning who to trust in a world with people gone mad and what to live for when it seems there are no reasons left. Everything was so vividly described (including the behavior of the "changed" people) that I felt like I was right beside Alex and Tom, both in the woods and out of it. In Ashes, elements of science fiction, dystopian, and coming-of-age books merge into something new and exciting. I will say that this book left me with some unanswered questions. Because of all the hardships that Alex and Tom face, this book is not exactly an easy read. There were a few times that I was frustrated because I just wanted something to go right for them. But despite the sadness, and despite all of the loose threads left at the end, the intensity of this book left me wanting more. Ashes is a book that you will stay up late into the night to read - I know that I did. I am already counting down the days until the next book. I cannot wait to see what else Ilsa has in store for this trilogy!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
First, let me say that this is the first book review I have ever written. The book was really good. It captures your interest and develops the characters well. There are some inconsisties with the plot. The bit about all the dogs suddenly loving Alex conflicts with the pack of dogs that initially attacked her in the forest. This is never resolved. However it is the ending or really the lack there of that really prompted me to write this review. I don't want to give away the ending so I will keep my comment somewhat general in nature. The ending does not resolve the fate of the heroine and there are other characters whose fate is left hanging as well. I can see this as a technique to set up for a sequel, but it feels like the author needed to keep the book at a certain number of words and chose to end it as quickly as possible.
HogwartsLUVR More than 1 year ago
All I could think about when I wasnt reading this book, was getting back to it as soon as I could. If your a Walking Dead fan, then you will be a fan of this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book. Could not put it down. Looking forward to the next.
Maplepie98 More than 1 year ago
Wow is what i thought in the begining, this is sooo great and suprising great book........then BAM it turned awlful could hardly keep reading. The story slowed completly down to a halting stop, it started skipping important details throwing in all kinds of names i got a little confused at where it was going, then it started almost a new story, a very bad one. Ending i thought was just plain bad! Had soooo much potential, it made me really sad. Really creepy zombies i think probably the creepiest for me because it wasnt just in the begining zombie this zombie that, but surprised me with where they came in, then how smart and their personalities, and i dont know why but how little they were actually having conflicts with the zombies made it that much more creepy. I have to read the sequel becuase i have know clue whats happend to any of the characters. So you may or may not want to risk it!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is now defiantly by second favorite book (after the Hunger Games). I loved almost everything about it and I hope my friends read it so I can talk to them about it. I read a lot of teen fiction book and most of them have a love triangle with one girl and two guy, usually it is easy to tell which guy the girl will pick in the end and it is obvious that the author set it up like that, but when I finished Ashes i really could not say with guy character she would end up with or which one I liked better. I love how IIsa J. Bick made the male characters so equal and really left it up to the reader to choose. I can't wait until the next book comes out I will defiantly read it!
Hermionish More than 1 year ago
In this riveting story of survival, 17-year-old Alexandra Adair is hiking in the woods of northern Michigan when something unexpected and terrifying happens – an electromagnetic pulse – which not only fried her cell phone and other electronic devices, but disrupted birds in flight who began crashing into each other and falling to the ground dead. Making her way back to civilization, Alex encounters several people who have changed and begins to wonder what the rest of the country and, even perhaps, the world are experiencing. In the quest to find food, shelter, and safety, Alex will soon find out what awaits beyond the wilderness…a post-apocalyptic nightmare. Ashes is divided into five parts – Part 1: The Mountain; Part 2: Tom; Part 3: The Change; Part 4: Rule; and, Part 5: The Monster; however, in reading the book there seems to be two distinctive parts – navigating the forest and then coping with life and attempting to survive in what remains of civilization. Bick’s careful attention to detail and setting the scene produced a gripping page-turner with characters that not only had depth, but were also believable. I found Ashes to be one of those books which is incredibly difficult to put down – from beginning to end there was a sense of both danger and adventure which was enthralling. At the end of the book, I was definitely excited for what’s to come in the sequel, Shadows. I rate this book five out of five stars – it’ll be a great addition to any public library’s collection. Due to graphic violence and scary situations, I’d recommend this book for grade 9 and up. Worth noting, this book has much appeal for adults, as well. Genres: Young Adult / Science Fiction / Fantasy / Dystopian / Adventure / Horror
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Will be buying rest of series.Great book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read and wasn't sure about reading #2 of this trilogy but I did anyway and I'm sorry I did. Seems like a slow moving story and alot of filler. Don't waste your money.
Coreena More than 1 year ago
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.
annmarie2011 More than 1 year ago
Alex has lost her parents and has a tumor in her head. She feels like life was not worth living what's the point. Then while out hiking an electromagnetic pulse sweeps across the sky and the whole world is turned on its head. Alex finds that most the human still alive have changed into something crazy they will kill anything that moves. Alex need to find out what's happening with no electronics and nearly everyone dead what well Alex have to do to stay alive and find out what's going on? I have been finding it hard to write up a review on this book is was so...amazing just my sort of book there was so much going on and the book never got slow it was always on the fast track. Alex was an interesting and strong character that not only looked after herself but also looked after a very stubborn child. You follow Alex journey not only does she want to know what's going on but she also wants to find out what's happening to herself. The world has changed so much that she fears what might happen now and in the future. Each day is a struggle that they have to pull through and I loved every word of the book. I really loved the horror element most of all in the book but I also love the fight to survive and the secrets and lies. It's a journey that will leave you hungry for more. I would happily recommend this book to others it's a most read book. 5/5
Sensitivemuse 5 months ago
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!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great story, loved the plot twists and the character details.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm posting this on the first book of the trilogy series so you may save yourself some time (no spoilers-I promise). The first two books are pretty good-easy to want to get back to. The last book is a disaster. It rambles on on with things that just needed to be cut out-I found myself skimming and constantly skipping paragraphs to just get to any valid point or true storyline. I mean this is over a 600 page book that could easily have been 300-so that is alot of nothing to get through. And the ending is not one that gives you any closure-I'm not talking about one that makes you unhappy-just not one at all, which is terrible since its suppossed to be the last book. Save yourself the time and effort-if you're not reading these books free from the library or a friend- do yourself a favor and just don't!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is areally good book however i felt like the killed of characters because they could.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read thus series last year my junior year and it was amazing. The characters are amazing, the story line is perfect for a post-apocolyptic earth where everything dies. I love this series.
Drewano More than 1 year ago
I rated this story 3 stars because it has a lot to like and dislike about it.  I’ll start off with the negatives because I always like to end on a positive note.  The characters are hot and cold, Tom is great, Ellie is annoying (even for an 8 year-old) and Alex while fine seems to also go from one extreme to the other in her thinking.  The plot can seem to drag at points.  No action, no real character development just there.  Finally it ends without any real resolution so if you want to find out what happens you need to keep going in the story. Now for the good!  I love the whole premise and story.  It’s well written with interesting scenarios (even if they’re a bit predictable at some points) which can really draw you in.  The ending (see what I mean about liking and disliking) although it ends with no resolution give you this giant wow moment that left me say “I can’t believe you’re ending it there”.  So while I’m not running to grab the next in the series it’s definitely on the lists of things to read in the future.
kleokatra More than 1 year ago
 Interesting Apocalypse story. I started this series because it is the first book my husband started listening to on Audible. As he is not a reader, I wanted to support him in all things books. It gave us something to talk about that we were both interested in, and he was able to see a new perspective and has a better understanding on my writerly world. I had a difficult time really liking this book and honestly spent more time groaning over the stupidity of the characters than enjoying the story - until Rule. Ella is an extremely easy character to despise and makes me extremely grateful to not have children. Alex is complex. I'm still not sure if I'm rooting for or against her yet. I am intrigued enough to rest the next story. I just hope the storyline speeds up soon.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You will instantly love Alex, the protagonist of the series, as she battles for survival in the zombie infested US. Her relationship with Tom, a kickbutt X-military hottie, flawlessly flows into the struggle for survival. To complicate matters, Alex and Tom are trying to protect Ellie (a newly orphaned tween). Ellie really annoyed me at first, but as the series progressed I began to look forward to her point of view. The whole series is told from shifting perspectives and I found myself skipping/skimming the chapters dedicated to the characters of Rule. I highly recommend this collection, esprcially if you are a girl who loves horror/zombie novels.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was fantabulous!!
Miguel018 More than 1 year ago
Ashes is the story of a young girl named Alex traveling in a post-apocalyptic America. Alex has a very fatalistic view towards her life due to an incurable brain tumor. Having lost all desire to live on, Alex decides to take one final hike through the wilderness. However, things don't go as she had planned as through the course of her journey she meets other travelers and ends up having to look after a child and protect herself as well with nothing but the supplies she had brought along with her. Ashes has elements of sci-fi, as a giant electromagnetic pulse kills many people and renders all technology virtually useless but, also contains plenty of action and suspense, as well as horror and even "zombies," because everyone likes zombies. In short, Ashes is a great book to read for anyone who is looking for an exciting gripping story to get into. The book is well written and the story told in such a way that it may prove hard to put the book down until you've finished and seen Alex's journey all the way through.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is great! It have a interesting story. However, The 5th Wave by Rick Yancy is strangely similar.....