Read by Katherine Kellgren
Length: 11 Hrs 6 Min
Genre: Young Adult/ Post Apocalyptic
Quick Thoughts: Ashes does a service to fans of Post Apocalyptic novel, introducing younger readers to the genre in a way that should hook them in, building a fan base to help keep the genre going strong. The author explores a lot of areas that long time fans of end of the world tales will recognize, but does it with a new modern spin that will keep listeners enthralled.
As I often fail to point out, The Guilded Earlobe is a full service audiobook blog, well, except if you want me to rewrite the publisher’s summary, or wash your car. I like to do more than just tell you what book rules the universe, or lament the narrator who decided to read some dark fantasy in a chipmunk voice. I like to share the lessons learned through the books I have experiences. That is why, often, when I review a post apocalyptic tale, I like to extend a very important service. Since we are only a year away from when those wise Mayan calendar makers decided the end of the world would be, and since that means soon we will all be scrounging for food, and starting crazy religious cults, I like to offer you tips that I learn from listening to post apocalyptic novels to help my readers survive. Often, these tips are learned from the incredibly stupid actions of the characters of the novel, which is no criticism of the author, since realistically, there will be plenty of people doing incredibly stupid things when the apocalypse comes. Today’s tip is brought to you by Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick. If someone just set off an EMP killing millions and turning teenagers into raving zombie like killing machines, and you find a nice little out of the way cabin with enough supplies to last you through the winter, stay there. Sure, you may get stir crazy, and you may want to go out into the world and see what is going on, but really, stay put for as long as you can before heading out into the world. Of course, staying put in a cabin really doesn’t make for good fiction, so don’t expect people to write a novel about you.
I really wasn’t sure what to think about Ashes when I first started it. I have read an EMP novel before, William Forstchen’s One Second After, but Ilsa J. Black does some interesting things with this novel. The EMP pulse does more than just knock out electronics, but it seemingly messes with the electrical impulses of the population, killing some, while changing others. I found the concept brilliant, and a great set up, yet Black also goes and creates an extremely annoying character names Ellie. Ellie is a young, temperamental girl who freaks out at everyone trying to help her whenever she gets a chance. Now, I have to give a hand to the author, I am getting sick of all the “mature beyond their years” child characters in books,, but Ellie, especially as the novel opens, was quite annoying. So yeah, part of me was hoping she may fall off a cliff, or get eaten by wolves, but eventually, I sort of became found of her in a “If you let me punch you in the face, then we can be friends” sort of way. Luckily, I found the other characters, especially the main character Alex, more complex, and interesting, even if many of the male characters failed to see her for the strong person she was, and just wanted to protect her, and keep her locked away. Ashes is a Young Adult novel, and I think it’s the perfect primer for teenagers who want to become obsessive Post Apocalyptic fans like myself. The first half of the novel is full of action, and survival, and I think it will hook many younger readers who are just getting into the subgenre. The second half was a more nuanced introduction to many of the tropes of post apocalyptic fiction which long time fans will appreciate. Ashes is part of a series, so the ending is a bit abrupt, but the set up moments of the finale is quite chilling and well done and will leave the reader with a lot to look forward to in the next edition.
Ah, the narration. Katherine Kellgren is a prolific narrator, yet this is my first time listening to one of her performances. The first half of the novel she reads at a lighting quick pace that kept the listener scared to pause the audiobook for fear they may miss something in the microsecond it takes for the device to register the command. Also, early on, I found myself having to lower the volume in order to handle her performance of the Ellie character. With a character that is supposed to be young and annoying, it’s only appropriate for the narrator to give the character an annoying voice, yet, well that still doesn’t keep it from being annoying. It is the second half of the novel that Kellgren really begins to shine. She has a flavor to her voice that I could never really pinpoint but it brought the prose alive in unexpected ways. She makes smart choices with her characters, and has quite an impressive vocal range. Ashes does a service to fans of Post Apocalyptic novel, introducing younger readers to the genre in a way that should hook them in, building a fan base to help keep the genre going strong. The author explores a lot of areas that long time fans of end of the world tales will recognize, but does it with a new modern spin that will keep listeners enthralled.
Note: A special thanks to the good people of Brilliance Audio for providing me with a copy of this title to review.