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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Ashes, Ashes: Does It Fall Down? A Little Bit, Yeah.

(Image from Indiebound)

Lucy Holloway no longer fears the end of the world. She's already seen it all, survived it all. In her sixteen years, she's watched the human race decimated by earthquakes, floods, hunger, and a smallpox plague that killed everyone she loved. Only Lucy remains. Living in a makeshift shelter in the wilds of what was once Central Park, she stays alive by hunting the few animals that remain. And hiding from anything human. Sweepers patrol the ruined city streets, searching for easy prey; a young girl living on her own has to be very, very careful.

With water levels rising and a pack of feral dogs loose in the park, Lucy begins to wonder if she can stay in the relative safety of her camp. But where else can she go? The answer comes from an unlikely source - a teenage boy who's been lurking around Lucy's home. She hasn't seen another person in months and doesn't know if she can trust 17-year-old Aidan. His talk of a peaceful commune of survivors living on what was once Wards Island sounds far-fetched. When an incoming tsunami leaves Lucy no choice but to run, she heads to Aidan's haven, a place full of answers and more questions.

When a Sweeper raid devastates the tiny settlement, kidnapping children and infecting adults with the plague, Lucy's anger boils into scorching fury. Tired of lies, tired of unanswerable questions, tired of her hardscrabble existence, she vows to find out what's behind the Sweepers' confounding actions. It's a risky quest, one that will likely be more dangerous than anything she's faced so far. With two companions she's not quite sure she can trust, Lucy marches into enemy territory. She's survived so much already - will this, finally, be the end of her? In a ruined city where nothing ever goes the way it should, one girl risks it all to save a dying world, a vanishing race, and the motley crew that's come to mean everything to her.

In her atmospheric debut novel, Ashes, Ashes, Jo Treggiari introduces an eerie dystopian New York City (just look at that cover!). The desolate, gritty setting portends danger and, thus, grand, survivalist adventure. Does it deliver? Not exactly. I think it lost its edge a little once Lucy follows Aidan. From there, it gets predictable, often thriving on coincidence and crazy, half-baked plans that would never really work. On the plus side, I loved the setting. Treggiari's descriptions of the ruined city helped me see it - probably a little too clearly. It's also a clean, fast-moving story that kept me entertained despite the plot holes, underdeveloped characters, and the romance that grew too fast to convince me. According to the author's website, sequels may be in the works. Would I read them? why yes, I believe I would.

(Readalikes: Reminds me a teensy bit of Exodus by Julie Bertagna)

Grade: C

If this were a movie, it would be rated: PG for intense scenes

To the FTC, with love: I received a finished copy of Ashes, Ashes from the generous folks at Scholastic. Thank you!


  1. I have this on my TBR I'm not so sure. I love the title to this post, though. =)

  2. Saw you blog button on another blog and decided to visit. Love you blog. Great book reviews.
    Stop by my blog and visit.
    Following you on GFC.

  3. Bummer. I had high hopes. Thanks for your honesty.


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