Cons first: this is a YA novel (strike one) about zombies (strike two) with a female protagonist who goes mushy over not one but two hot boys (strike three).
If I'd known all these things beforehand (especially #3), I probably would not have selected this audiobook, so it's a good thing sometimes I get pleasantly surprised.
(Incidentally, I do not hate either YA or zombie novels — quite the contrary — it's just that so much of it is refried crap that my expectations tend to be low going in.)Ashes
isn't as good as Mira Grant's Feed
, but it's still a pretty good zombie tale with a teenage girl protagonist who is, yes (sigh) what you might inevitably call "feisty," but she actually earns the moniker, being pretty smart and having some good survival skills and common sense.
I just wish she spent more time thinking survival and less time thinking "Does he or doesn't he?"
Alex is in the mountains thinking about killing herself when a massive series of EMPs takes out civilization. She's thinking about killing herself because she has an incurable brain tumor. So this is one of those books where having normally fatal medical conditions turns out to be an advantage when a giant EMP fries everyone else's brain but gives Alex super-smelling. Actually, it fries the brains of teenagers, turning them into the Changed — yup, zombies. Yes, this is one of those books where zombies represent something else (if ya wanna get all lit-crit on a YA zombie novel), in this case, fear of kids on your lawn. Who want to eat you. It's mostly old people left after the pulse, shooting those damn kids.
Alex is one of the rare teens who doesn't Change. She meets up with a young soldier on leave named Tom, who also hasn't Changed, and a little girl named Ellie. The three of them set off on a trek across the wilds, and of course run into both zombies and the usual assortment of human survivors who turn out to be as bad as zombies. Alex is separated from Tom and Ellie, and winds up in a town called Rule full of nice pleasant folks who are kind of like Mormons/Amish but not. Yes, one of those towns. Creepy vibes right from the start, even before Alex begins unraveling the truths behind Rule. Besides Hot Boy #2 there are several Big Reveals, the last of which is left until the last page because of course this is the first book in a trilogy.
Notwithstanding the predictable tropes and several eye-rolling moments, this was a pretty good listen with a few somewhat novel twists. Ilsa Blick's writing was decent, and I enjoyed the story (and found the loose ends aggravating) enough to want to read book two.
3.5 stars, which I will round up because I'm feeling generous and because I actually intend to continue the series, which is becoming less common for me nowadays.