Alex is not your typical teenager. Due to unforeseeable circumstances, she has been pushed prematurely into adulthood. Her parents are dead, she's living with her aunt, she can't figure out if she has a future, and she has to deal with a deadly inner struggle - Cancer. So in order to preserve her sanity, she heads to the mountains for a much needed camping retreat, as well as to spread her parents ashes. Unfortunately, an electromagnetic pulse (EMP), also called the Zap, hits and begins to affect those who experience it. Some people, like Alex, only show certain signs of the Zap, but most of the population has started acting rabid and cannibalistic, craving human flesh. Is the change from human to feral beast inevitable? Or can Alex and those she meets along the way find a way to protect themselves and those they love?
I have always had a fascination with survival horror and science fiction genres; but recently, I have found it difficult to find books with unique plots. It seems like zombie books are the new vampire fiction, the same themes constantly overdone. So when I saw Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick, I almost passed on reading it, that is, until I picked it up and started reading the blurb; this was definitely not the "typical" zombie novel.
First-off, the plot was refreshingly original, with characters that had just as many problems before the pulse as they did after. Alex is a multi-dimensional character that constantly adapts to whatever hand she's dealt, her cancer, her parents deaths, the pulse, the post-apocalyptic "takeover", etc. Ilsa J. Bick did an excellent job developing the characters as well as the back-story for Ashes. The level of action and attention to detail did not leave me wanting, (until the end when I realized there would be another book!). I thoroughly enjoyed the shocking plot twists as well as the overall tone, which definitely raised my own pulse rate, (gory but great). I recommend Ashes to any reader looking for a survival horror to sink their teeth into, just in time for Halloween.
***I received this book from NetGalley (Egmont USA) in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.