At first, this book did not appeal to me. But then the electromagnetic pulse happened, Alex was suddenly in charge of child, and they were being hunted by killer kids. Creepy. Then they meet Tom. Oh Tom. He brings the third part of their trio – Alex, Ellie, and Tom – to life and helps Alex and Ellie survive. He knows what the world will be like outside the mountain where they were when the pulse hit, and Tom knows where they should go. Suddenly, your falling for Tom and Alex, and even Ellie seems likable.

Then, Ilsa J. Bick throws you a curve ball, and the happy trio surviving is suddenly hurled into chaos, sadness, and making the ultimate choice – save yourself or the ones you love. Alex, Ellie and Tom all have to grow up together and face the reality that has become America: The After.
Alex is an amazing character – she has huge flaws, secrets, fear – and all of these make her real. It seems like that is the biggest key in a character: making them real. Alex is the girl you will look up to, the one who will hold you when you cry, push the bad times and convince you there is a light on the other side of a dim tunnel – she’s that big sister. Every chapter Alex’s comfortability is pushed and pushed, until Alex is stripped of everything she knows to trust. But, whoa re you supposed to trust when you’re a Spared?

The preface of Ashes is so new and different. It says on the back “zombies”, but don’t let that scare you off. The entire time, you don’t really know what the Changed kids are, but since they’re similar to zombies, I guess everyone just settled with that. To me, this book gave such new material to the industry and pushed the standards of survival fiction. Think Life As We Knew It, but amplified and way more intense. I was sitting in the cafeteria at school multi-tasking between reading this, screaming at my friends: “HOW COULD SHE DO THAT? WHY? HOW COULD SHE?” (I was very mad at Ilsa J. Bick, and so will you), and eating. I finished the book so fast once I got into it.

So just give it sometime, and before you know it, Ashes will leave you hanging and by the last page you’ll scream: “That’s it? Wait, where’s the next page? What? It’s OVER?!”

— Willa, age 14

About the Book:
Title: Ashes
Author: Ilsa J. Bick
Release Date: 09/2011