I was drawn to the CD of Ashes, Ashes (2011) by Jo Treggiari in the library based on its cover. Pandemics, tsunamis, living wild...my perfect book! The story has a lot of potential, Unfortunately it does not live up to its promise.
Genre: Young adult apocalyptic science fiction
Length: 9h 48m
Audio publisher: Oasis Audio, 2011
Recap: Lucy is surviving on her own: hunting and gathering for food, fixing her shelter, fending off wild animals. Gradually, the story of what happened to the world and how she got to this point is revealed. When a mysterious boy shows up, Lucy has to decide if she's ready or willing to trust a stranger and change her hard-won life.
Review: I love dystopian young adult fiction and pandemic/apocalypse stories. I am ecstatic about the recent surge of new titles in this genre and have enjoyed reading some excellent examples lately. Since Ashes, Ashes has a great cover, my expectations for it were pretty high.
I was drawn into Lucy's efforts at survival in the first part of the book. She was heroic in her tenacity and her trials were well described. I felt like I was right down with her in the mud. This section shows instead of tells. I wish the whole book had been like this.
The story follows Lucy in the third person, so we do not get many of her thoughts. I found this refreshing. However, the lack of a direct conduit into Lucy's mind also denies us her motivations, which was a problem as the book went on. After all of the action in the survivor section, the story loses its momentum. Lucy started acting against character, and I didn't understand or believe her choices. When a love triangle was introduced, Lucy lost all of the strength and power she showed in the beginning. She became insecure and indecisive. She lost my sympathy, and I had a hard time continuing. The story became less realistic and more cartoonish as it continued until it finally ended with the hook for the next in the series.
The book has an interesting world with plagues, floods, droughts. and tsunamis. There's a message of anti-global warming, but also anti-science and anti-medicine which wasn't well explained. Lucy was an interesting character at the beginning, but she loses her self as the story progresses. She became an actor for the plot instead of being her own person. A poorly defined supporting cast and cartoonish motivations didn't help.
Grade: 2 out of 5
Reading/production: The CD starts with an interview with the author. I skipped over this, but was surprised it was placed at the beginning instead of the end of the recording. I enjoyed Cassandra Campbell's narration. She has a young-sounding voice suitable for 16-year-old Lucy.
Final thoughts: Although I enjoyed the first couple of chapters, I don't recommend this book. The cartoonish plot took over and smothered the good book that was started. There are much better dystoping/apocolyptic YA SF stories out there.
Nits: I was confused about the statement that one person out of one million survived. If that was true, there would be 8 people left in New York City. Lucy meets or mentions 20 to 50 people. How could they even know the death rate? If that many people died that quickly, all infrastructure for collecting death data from hospitals and health departments would collapse. It was strange that this was portrayed as such a firm fact.
Nums: It is a nice cover.