Ashes, by Ilsa J. Bick

Rating: 5 out of 5

Summary: Alex is dying. She has a brain tumor that can’t be cured and she can tell that she is getting worse. Determined to die in peace, Alex takes a trip out to the woods to scatter her parents ashes and come to terms with her own mortality. And then the unthinkable happens. An EMT goes off, killing all electronics and casting the country, and, possibly, the world, into a state of chaos.

With the help of Tom, a young soldier, and Ellie, a young girl whose grandfather and only family member died in the EMT, Alex struggles to survive in this new world, where millions are dead and the survivors are mostly untrustworthy or worse, extremely deadly.

I don’t want to give away too much more about this book. I think what made it so engaging for me were all of the surprises and twists. It has been a long time since I read a book that kept me guessing and on the edge of my seat – this book did that and more. While there were a couple of things I guessed, I did not see the ending coming at all. And I’m dying to read the next book.

Great Characters

For starters, the characters all have depth. Even the minor characters were 3-dimensional. Everyone had something they were fighting for and I believed everyone’s story.

The main character, Alex, was very well done. She had layers and she grew in a very believable way. I could make sense of her decisions and understand her feelings. The same was true for Tom and, while she was a little obnoxious at first, even Ellie.

I did have a slightly harder time with a couple of the characters later in the book, mostly in Part 4, but I don’t want to say anything about them because that would ruin the suspense. I will say, though, that Part 4 got a little weird for me, but it was worth sticking it out to get to Part 5.


I’m glad I went into this book knowing very little about it. I thought it would be your typical apocalypse story, which in some ways it is, but in other ways it is not. Had I known more about it, I may not have read it. But I’m glad I did because this book does not fit neatly into any of the boxes it could be put into, genre-wise. Even if you have heard some things that make you think you don’t want to read it, you really should give it a chance. I promise you will not regret it.