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abookaweek 2012: week thirty-six

2012 September 9
by Romy

Ashes, by Ilsa J. Bick

Category: Post-apocalyptic / dystopian

Story: While off on a hiking trip, Alex witnesses a series of EMPs (electro magnetic pulses) with strange effects: electronic devices stop working, the man she was sharing her campfire with suddenly dies, his granddaughter survives, and Alex’s brain tumor seems to disappear, leaving her with a supernatural sense of smell. Oh, and kids everywhere have turned into zombies.

Opinion: I really wanted to like this book; it has gotten some decent reviews, and the presence of zombies doesn’t hurt either. I don’t know whether I should blame publishers for always going after the same story, or writers for copying what others are doing right now, but this story seems incredibly derivative of previous series such as The Hunger Games and Divergent.

I can deal with it being the first part in a trilogy, but I do feel that if you’re going to try to get readers to read the second and third books in a trilogy, that they should be compelled to do so because the first book is so gripping; instead, Ashes relies on a cheap cliffhanger in the story. It makes me angry just thinking about it.

But back to my point about this book being derivative. Without giving too much away (or maybe I should issue a SPOILER ALERT anyway?), here’s what I noticed all 3 of these series have in common:

Girl protagonist, dreary life;
Girl has a dramatic family history;
Girl unwillingly put in life-threatening situation;
Girl unexpectedly develops special strength/power;
Girl finds safe haven but then discovers it is not safe;
Girl rebels against establishment;
Girl caught in love triangle;
Girl doesn’t know whether she can trust one of the guys in the love triangle.

While the settings in these series do vastly differ (and are each, in fact, really interesting), the way the plot progresses is just too formulaic for my taste.

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