Tuesday, 24 May 2011

review: Ashes, Ashes

by Jo Treggiari
Scholastic Press, June 2011
post-apocalyptic young adult
ARC received from publisher (thank you!)

Floods have knocked over NYC's skyscrapers and a plague has killed just about everyone in the world, but not Lucy. Now she's in the wilderness all by hersel -- except for Aidan, the boy who saves her from wild dogs, and his motley crew of young'uns and old'uns. After a tsunami swamps her campground, Lucy reluctantly heads over to the camp. But when Sweepers invade and snatch away important members of the camp, it's clear that someone wants Lucy... or at least her blood.
The cover:

The models look airbrushed, what with the gleam of their clothes and skin. Luckily, the scene they're facing brings back all the "wow" factor every cover needs. The vibe that the fallen buildings and flooding waters give off can be summed up in one word: COOL.

The book:

Just flipping through the first chapter, you see blocks upon blocks of text. Surprisingly, it's not dense to read through. Backstory is woven in and manages to stay interesting. Descriptions of survival actions ground the story in the wilderness and paint Lucy as one tough cookie, while the backflashes show her as an outcast socially. Whether this endears her to or repels her from the reader will be up to you.

The almost love triangle may take some attention away from the plot, but at least it's a girl-girl-boy triangle. The author also wisely saves the melt-your-pants-off romantic scene after the plot climax. Re: the plot: the reason as to why Lucy is so wanted doesn't seem very important or original, it's more like a mash of assorted sci-fi premises. The antagonist also seems small-scale -- with these kinds of epic post-apocalyptics, you expect at the minimum a rampant evil organization.

Action is abundant, as long as you don't mind yours a rehashed version reminiscent of the end scene in Scott Westerfeld's Uglies. The chant "Ring around the roses / A pocket full of posies / Ashes, ashes / We all fall down" doesn't ring as true for Ashes, Ashes (thanks to the lack of emphasis placed on the plague) as it does for Eric Walters's We All Fall Down (an excellent book, one I recommend).

With passable, average writing, Ashes, Ashes is an enjoyable, though not very deep, read.

Rating: 3 out of 5