Book Description (from the ARC):
Smallpox epidemics, floods, droughts – for sixteen-year-old Lucy, the end of the world came and went, stealing with it everyone she ever loved. Even the landscape of her beloved New York City is ever-shifting and full of hidden dangers. As the weather rages out of control, she survives alone in the wilds of Central Park, hunting and foraging for food and making do with the little she has, while avoiding roving scavengers and thieves. But when an unrelenting pack of vicious hounds begins to hunt her, Lucy is not sure she can continue on her own. Then suddenly, she is swept to safety by a mysterious boy named Aidan, who helps her escape the hounds and urges her to join a band of survivors. Reluctantly, she finds him after her home is destroyed; however, new dangers await her.
An army of Sweepers terrorizes the camp, carting off innocent people and infecting them with the plague. Lucy and Aidan realize that it’s up to them to save their friends, but Lucy doesn’t know that the Sweepers have laid a trap – for her. There is something special about Lucy, and the Sweepers will stop at nothing to have her in their clutches.
Source: Jo Treggiari (Thank you!)
Lucy was a survivor. She decided to live alone, wanting to escape the chaos and the craziness of what the plague has left behind. She’s one of the strongest and most capable heroines I’ve ever encountered. After living on her own for a long time, she has begun to lose touch on how to communicate and relate with other people. Yes, she was a bit antisocial and she was a bit too practical for her own good with her mind functioning under the survival instinct. I was touched and pained by her life before that I found her easy to relate to.
Aidan’s appearance in Lucy’s life was a relief and a discomfort at the same time. He knew too much about her. She knew he probably had been watching her. She didn’t like that he knew too much. But at the same time, if he hadn’t been watching, she would have probably been taken, ripped apart by the vicious dogs that hunted her. Their relationship started with an awkward friendship that was much too fragile with all the misunderstanding between them. Add Del, a striking girl who had a crush on Aidan, glaring daggers at Lucy. But Lucy was starting to get attracted to Aidan. She liked his company and the way he smiled at her.
The characters were interesting and vibrant. Grammalie Rose was the wise one, the one moving people to make sure everything’s done. It was cute how she gave everyone nicknames in her language. Henry, the resident flirt and doctor, was funny and entertaining with his effort to win every girl’s heart in camp. Sammy, Aidan’s brother, was a S’ans – a person infected with the plague but had outlived it. Leo was the protector of the camp and standing leader. Del, Lucy’s rival, was one of the best hunters of the band. She seemed to have three sides: the nice Del, the cold and stoic Del and the angry and rude Del.
The world that Treggiari built was terrifying, worrisome and bittersweet. After almost everyone died after the two waves of the plague, what were left behind were people who were grieving for their loved ones, broken and weakened by the plague. It was almost too sad that they lived. But the way that they gathered up together and built their home from what was left behind, trusted and depended on each other and co-existed was proof that after all the challenges, they were still strong enough to live. I love this about Ashes, Ashes, no one dies without a fight. They strive to survive, they cope and they live on.
Ashes, Ashes is a chilling survival adventure with romance, rivalry and betrayal. Cryptic at times and undeniably vivid and thrilling, this will satiate cravings for a good dystopian read. I highly recommend this to dystopian and adventure readers. Readers of The Hunger Games and Legend might like this.