Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Review - Ashes, Ashes by Jo Treggiari (2.5/5 stars)

Ashes, AshesReading level: Young Adult
Genre: Post-Apocalyptic/Survival
Size:  352 pages
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: June 1, 2011
ISBN-13:   978-0545255639
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Source: Advanced Reading Copy from the Strand
 2.5/5 stars

I bought an ARC of this book at The Strand bookstore when I was in NYC for the Book Expo this year.  I had been trying to decide if I wanted to read this book or not.  I love post-apocalyptic survival stories so I decided to pick it up.  It was okay, not nearly as good as some of the other options out there, but an okay story.

Lucy has been surviving on her own for nearly a year in Central Park in NYC.  After small-pox epidemics annihilated the population, the climate changed alternating droughts and horrible flooding.  When dogs and floods drive her out of her makeshift home she ends up with a group of survivors living commune stle.  The mysterious Sweepers have started picking off members of the commune one by one an Lucy is frustrated with the groups acceptance of the situation.  Lucy is intrigued by a boy named Aidan and is urging him to rally the group to fight, but there are things about herself Lucy doesn't know that complicates the issue.

This book starts out very slow.  Around page 80 or so I almost stopped reading it, I didn't like Lucy as a character and Treggiari's writing style was just a bit too mechanical for me.  She does an excellent job describing the gritty side of survival; blisters and uncleanliness, gutting animals etc but somehow it just wasn't that interesting..the writing style was a bit to disconnected or something.  Once Lucy meets up with the large survivor camp things pick up and get a bit more interesting.

The "romance" between Lucy and Aidan is pretty thin, which is odd since the book touts itself as a romantic read.  There are lingering glances and a kiss or two, not much meaningful conversion.  The romance is definitely pushed to the back of the story, the story focuses more on survival and figuring out the mystery behind the Sweepers and their purpose.

The plot was a little schizophrenic.  In the beginning is was a book about survival, the mid portion focuses more on commune living, and the end is suddenly about genetic engineering and the science of vaccinations.  I think somewhere in here there could have been a really great story, but it got confused because Treggiari couldn't figure out what to focus on.  I was a bit thrown with the whole evil scientist thing at the end of the book.  I mean come on, that was so predictable and so cliche, I expected something more profound or deeper to happen. I was also a bit disappointed that we don't get any insight into the rest of the world.  The book is very focused on just Lucy's little world.

The characters were okay.  Lucy, Aiden, and Del are fairly engaging, if not really likable.  As readers we never get enough incite into them to really make us care a whole lot about what happens to them.  The book ends well enough and resolves the major plot point while leaving the characters overall survival problems unsolved.

Overall this was an okay book.  It starts out slow but the second half is engaging enough if a bit cliche and unfocused.  The characters are okay, the plot is a bit unfocused, and the book didn't have as big of an impact on me as I hoped for.  The problem is there are so many great post-apocalyptic young adult books out there.  I would personally recommend skipping this book and checking out the following books: Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer, Blood Red Road by Moira Young, The Reapers are the Angels by Alden Bell, Feed by Mira Grant (more of an adult read), Divergent by Veronica Roth (more of a dystopia), and Wither by Lauren DeStefano (more of a dystopia).  After you read all of those if you crave more post-apocalyptic survival YA reads then maybe check this out.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges
- 100+ Reading Challenge
- The Debut Author Challenge

Ashes, Ashes

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the review! At least now I know what to expect from this book.