Author: Ilsa J. Bick
Publication Date: 9/25/12
Publisher: Egmont USA
Blurb(GR): The Apocalypse does not end. The Changed will grow in numbers. The Spared may not survive.
Even before the EMPs brought down the world, Alex was on the run from the demons of her past and the monster living in her head. After the world was gone, she believed Rule could be a sanctuary for her and those she’d come to love.
But she was wrong.
Now Alex is in the fight of her life against the adults, who would use her, the survivors, who don’t trust her, and the Changed, who would eat her alive.
Welcome to Shadows, the second book in the haunting apocalyptic Ashes Trilogy: where no one is safe and humans may be the worst of the monsters.
So, the good news here is that the two things that bothered me most about Ashes – namely, Alex’s endless agonizing and baseless assumptions and Ellie, the most annoying preteen on Earth (fictional or otherwise) – were completely absent from this book. The bad news is that the way that Ilsa J. Bick accomplished those two feats made this book incredibly boring for me. And I didn’t have Katherine Kellgren’s amazing voice to get me through this time.
This book is 100% action, all the time. That would be kind of difficult to accomplish with only Alex’s point of view – I mean, she does need to eat or sleep or spend hours coming up with hare-brained ideas every once in a while. So Ilsa J. Bick fixes that little “problem” by adding in about four new main characters. Every time the action winds down with one POV, we simply switch to the next POV where the action is in full-swing. And sometimes, we don’t even wait for the action to wind down – this woman does dearly love the cliffhanger after all. The main problem with this set-up is that I have no reason to care for any of these new characters. After spending an entire book with Alex, to suddenly be asked to wring my hands and gasp and care while these other people are running for their lives was just…annoying. I have nothing invested in these characters. I’ve spent no time with them. I haven’t been able to build them up from two-dimensional groupings of words on a page into real people. I don’t care what happens to them. I even felt relief when one of them died – one less extraneous POV that I need to read through.
Ellie doesn’t even appear here, which was not only a huge relief, but actually made sense to me. I’ve lost track of friends quite suddenly in my real, everyday life, without any apocalyptic survival to deal with. It makes complete sense to me that Alex could lose track of Ellie, Tom, or anyone and never hear from him or her again in this crazy environment. What I found increasingly less able to buy into were Alex and Tom’s respective skills. Alex has survival/gun skills from her deceased father and medical training from her deceased mother, but her expertise feels unrealistically heightened or lowered depending on the situation. When it’s convenient, she knows how to place stitches and help with emergency care – but then later she doesn’t even know basic disinfection methods. Tom is supposedly an explosives expert who dismantled IED’s in Afghanistan – which of course means that he’s also somehow a demolition expert? Explain to me how that works.
This book is also just…incredibly…disgusting. That's not really a criticism; it's more of a warning. Really, I have to give the author props for not toning it down at all even in a young adult novel. I’ve been doing most of my reading during my lunch breaks and I would NOT recommend that route. She doesn’t shy away from oozing pus, stenches that are so strong they coat the tongue, rotting corpses, bursting eyeballs, and of course, cannibalism in all its nauseatingly descriptive glory. This book is not for the faint of stomach.
However, I must say that I think many readers who are not me will enjoy this one. This book has a TON of action – it’s ACTIONACTIONACTION all the way through. If that's your sort of thing - have at it!
Perfect Musical Pairing
My Chemical Romance - Dead!