Ashes, Ashes by Jo Treggiari
Pub. Date: June 1st, 2011
Age Level: 13+
Source: For review from publisher and author.
Synopsis via Goodreads
A thrilling tale of adventure, romance, and one girl's unyielding courage through the darkest of nightmares.
Epidemics, floods, droughts--for sixteen-year-old Lucy, the end of the world came and went, taking 99% of the population with it. As the weather continues to rage out of control, and Sweepers clean the streets of plague victims, Lucy survives alone in the wilds of Central Park. But when she's rescued from a pack of hunting dogs by a mysterious boy named Aidan, she reluctantly realizes she can't continue on her own. She joins his band of survivors, yet, a new danger awaits her: the Sweepers are looking for her. There's something special about Lucy, and they will stop at nothing to have her.
Ashes, Ashes is a vivid portrayal that delves into just one of the many scenarios involving how our world could possibly decline in the future. Have no fear though; this story is just as much entertaining as it is foreboding of our impending doom. Muahahaha. *clears throat* Okay...
Lucy, in my opinion, was a very strong and admirable character. She starts out stubborn and a bit ignorant on some of the truths of what is occurring but she is also independent and resourceful. At first, I wondered why she opted to fend for herself, all alone with no one to help. However, after I learned her reasoning for setting out on her own, I was able to understand why she did. As the book progressed, Lucy grew wiser and I was glad to get to see how brave she could be. She also had a great, sassy wit about her that I loved. Next is Aidan, a cutie with enough bite of his own to rival Lucy's. What I liked about him was that he felt real, flawed. He wasn't like some of the 'too good to be true' guys I frequently happen across. Aidan's romance with Lucy was sweet with a little bit of turmoil between them thrown in for good measure, which I appreciated considering the overall circumstances. I mean fluffy puffy, all-is-bliss was just not gonna cut it. I also liked that their relationship, on it's own, wasn't a huge part of the story. Then there is Del, who is none too pleased about Lucy traipsing in on her territory. Here's the thing though, while Del was frequently a bitch, there were times when I felt I could actually see where she was coming from and why she felt the way she did. I could go on much longer about the distinguished, well fleshed out supporting characters but I still have more about the book to discuss. So...here are the names of a few who really stood out to me: Grammalie Rose, the slightly scary, but wise elder of the group; Sammy, Aidan's resilient, lovable brother; Henry, The Hell Gate's humorous resident flirt; and the Cleaners as a whole. I'm sure that didn't cover all of them but I gotta stop somewhere, right?
When Ashes, Ashes begins, Lucy is all on her own, out trying to survive in the wilds of Central Park after a plague and natural disasters have rampaged, not just New York City, but the world. This is how it is for the first few chapters and it is during this time that I got to know Lucy, hear some of her story, and receive some great world building as I learned about what all had happened. While the almost complete lack of dialogue in the beginning--except for Aidan's brief, initial appearance--did result in a slower pace, it was never boring and there was still some action. Once Lucy reaches The Hell Gate, the pace quickens and I got even more action, more character relations, and more knowledge, knowledge that even Lucy didn't possess at the beginning, such as the truth about the S'ans. Treggiari's view into what could happen to our planet in the future is realistic and frightening. My attention was continuously captivated by this bleak landscape and it's exciting plot line. Though there was some predictability, there were some surprises as well. Ashes, Ashes also had a sweet little romance playing across its pages but, thankfully, this was kept a minor aspect of the story.
Treggiari's writing style did a keen job of painting before me the sight of a disaster torn setting still reeling from the effects of a plague and natural catastrophes, a setting where the few remaining survivors are still trying to pull the shattered pieces of their lives back together. The heartbreak and anguish of the characters was palpable and consuming; the overall writing was consistent and well crafted throughout.
So here is what thrilled me most about the end to Ashes, Ashes. It was an actual ending. While I'm left feeling hopeful and pondering what might happen next in Lucy's life, there was a sense of finality as well. Cause guess what? It's a stand alone novel. All hail! No seriously, I love books in a series but I can only handle so many and I am so happy that the end of Ashes, Ashes was just that, The End. And while it was nothing mind-blowing or jaw-dropping, it was satisfying and a great way to pull things to a close.
With that said, Ashes, Ashes is an atmospheric dystopian novel that held strong and compelling for me from beginning to end. I think this is a story that would even appeal to those who aren't the hugest fans of this particular genre. Then again, I love dystopian so maybe I'm not the best person to be the judge of that. Either way, I definitely recommend this one and I look forward to getting to read more from Jo Treggiari in the future.
Amazon / B&N / Kindle / Nook / Book Depository