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Ashes, Ashes

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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.

344 pages, Hardcover

First published June 1, 2011

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About the author

Jo Treggiari

10 books245 followers
Writer, reader, and bookseller. My newest book, a YA psych thriller, is Blood Will Out (Penguin, 2018). My next book, another YA thriller, The Grey Sisters, will be published in 2019.
I'm always working on the next thing.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,004 reviews
Profile Image for karen.
3,978 reviews170k followers
May 25, 2020
this book had a lot of potential, but ultimately it just didn't win me over.

hi, have we just met??? if so, let me tell you that i love large-scale survival stories and i love teen dystopian novels. i'm not even hiding in the shadows about it anymore. and there are some good ones and there are some bad ones. this one is grouped in my mind with the susan beth pfeffer last survivors trilogy, which means it is conceptually strong, but is unrealistic in its portrayal of human response. more on that later.

the first third of this book is great. lucy is sixteen, and alone. her family have all died from the virulent strain of smallpox that wiped out most of the world. she is living alone in central park in a shelter she built herself, struggling with the day-to-day necessities of survival (including tsunami-avoidance), dirty and stinky and wounded and not at all the way the front cover would have you believe. she is more like this troll creature, crouching warily and snatching for food. like nell!!!! my favorite part of this is that she has this survival manual she snatched from the floor of a looted bookstore (maybe my bookstore!!!), from which she is desperately trying to turn a stubborn turtle into food. no one ever has a survival manual in these books, and it is great that this character thought of this as she was looting. points scored, there.

she has one knife, and some sweatshirts. she has some bottles for water. and that's pretty much it. (oh, and her yearbook, which was never really explained properly for me, considering she was a wallflower loner type) but that aside, the early survival stuff is great. but too brief.

because then - people. and one she joins up with people and a boyyyyyy and some love quadrangle and some betrayal and danger and confusing fight scenes and a villain that - whaaaat? i just stopped caring.

survival stuff = great. pack of dogs that will come and getcha??

moony eyes and rival glares??
prioritize, kids!!

mild spoilers where i talk around what happens, but you might want to avoid if you are sensitive to that kinda stuff :

that was a long spoiler, for those of you who didn't peek. it may or may not be a true spoiler. i don't care. if there is a sequel, i will probably read it - i read all the pfeffers, even though they were kind of weak, but i hope that the next one will just be a little tighter and focus more on the strengths (survival know-how), and less on the weaker elements of cackling eeeevil and sullen youth.

come to my blog!
Profile Image for Eric.
427 reviews84 followers
August 17, 2011
At first I was thinking that a good comparison for the book would be a blind date but thinking further it's closer to a relationship that is just about to break up -- horribly. There's no mystery, passion is long gone, and any intimacy is just a sad joke from here on out.

At no point did I care enough about anyone in this to to accept the things that goes on throughout the book. Eventually not only did I stop trying I just about shut down. I had less than an hour left and I kept thinking how did this all go so wrong.

I'm not going to spoil it for anyone deluded enough into thinking that this book is for them but after the decision was made to "make a move", NOTHING makes sense anymore! People either seem to have all the answers or no answers whatsoever and no one seems concerned about it. If you think I'm kidding imagine both ends of the spectrum occurring at the same time and not questioning how on earth does that make any sense right now. Why keep drinking a drink you know is drugged and struggle to accept that a person is being honest with you? Why chase a person for (almost...maybe...if you hold it against me I'll smack you) 2 years and then when you finally have them in your sights not only let them go but help them escape. What!

This is what anyone who walks down this road is going to have to deal with. I'm totally going to ignore the fake love triangle. The overly horny men left in the world. The wizened old grandmother. Also without nitpicking that ending was one of the most pointless things I've read. Nothing happened that I didn't already know. Nothing happened that I hadn't already assumed would either. Ahh see I tried not to do it but I still did. Sorry. There's going to be more of these books? Hell to the no! I'm out!
Profile Image for Rory.
881 reviews28 followers
July 2, 2011
Um, when your hero chick is supposed to be crazy grubby, with necessarily shorn hair and tatters for a wardrobe...don't portray her on the cover wearing spotless skinny jeans, long lush locks, and a bright white tea (seemingly with a push-up bra to boot). Just...don't. I skimmed from chapters four on and found this to be what the over-descriptive book jacket promised: insipid, MOR, boy-saves-girl-who-acts-tough-until-the-kissing-starts.
Profile Image for Marie Lu.
Author 57 books133k followers
July 6, 2011
The beauty of Ashes, Ashes is all in the story's details. I don't think I've read another dystopian with the level of deep, engrossing detail that Jo's novel has--in Ashes, Ashes, I can smell the world's decay, feel the rain pounding on my back, sense the pain in my lungs as Lucy runs for her life....everything is alive, immediate, and vivid. Lucy and Aidan are a sweet young couple, and the story is dark but not without hope. Recommended!
Profile Image for Reynje.
272 reviews962 followers
September 23, 2011
There are any number of cracking ways to open a novel, but I am going to argue that is not one of them. <--That’s not really a spoiler. But it’s gross. I put it in spoiler tags because I’m conscious that this might show up in people’s news feeds while they’re eating.

Sure, this makes a pretty impactful point about the desperation of Lucy’s situation. But what immediately follows is a several pages long, point-by-point description of the current state of the world (or New York at least) and how it got there. This almighty heap of information clunks down in the opening chapter, making the beginning of Ashes, Ashes very unwieldy. It’s hard to feel engaged in this kind of story when the pacing is bogged down with so much exposition, which could have been more effectively threaded through the narrative.

Likewise, chunks of Lucy’s back story and personal history are pushed in awkwardly, with the purpose of...what? Making the reader sympathise with her? Understand her plight? Set up the “reveal” about Lucy? I’m not sure that any of these were achieved particularly effectively.

I’m afraid I found much of this book afflicted by similar info-dumping, abrupt transitions, awkwardly staged scenes and moments that were just jarringly out of place.

For example - Lucy has been surviving on her own for over a year. Then she meets a boy. And suddenly she’s having thoughts about being embarrassed by her wild hair. Alright. I do get this, up to a point. I have curly hair myself. I know that some days it’s less like hair and more like having a small, unruly child attached to the top of your head. But seriously? Over a year not knowing whether you’ll make it through the next day, outrunning tsunamis, being chased by hunting dogs and eating salamander stew (if you’re lucky), and you’re worried about your hair frizzing out? It felt contrived and very “insert budding romantic tension here”.

On the whole, the strings that the author was pulling, or the scaffolding of the plot, always felt visible. I couldn’t shake the feeling that the story felt heavily orchestrated, that the characters were maneuvered into situations to progress the plot, but did not feel particularly organic.

Case in point, the chapter about hunting rabbits in which nothing much happens except a few non-verbal cues to show us who is in which corner of the romantic boxing ring and who is most likely to throw the first punch in the form of a jealous hissy fit or passive aggressive jab. Unfortunately, the love angle of this story left me completely cold - as the relationships are not particularly substantiated with conversation or connection - so I found myself frustrated with these kind of scenes.

For such a heavy premise – the majority of the population being decimated by a plague, earth’s climate completely haywire – the story is rather flimsy and often feels uncertain as to what direction it should take.

The opening chapters, detailing Lucy’s solitary life and efforts to survive, turned out to be the strongest in my opinion. From here, the plot takes several turns, raising issues that are either not explained fully, or simply don’t come to fruition in terms of relevance to the story.

Ultimately, too many questions felt inadequately addressed, making the climax fairly difficult to buy into, or feel much of an investment in.

I’m aware that this review is not very forgiving (or at all). But if I’m totally honest, I simply don’t feel like I could recommend this book. If you are looking for a strong, compelling dystopian novel – I’m not convinced that this will be it.
Profile Image for Deedles.
46 reviews22 followers
December 27, 2012
Jo Treggiari seems like a pretty cool woman from the little blurb about her on the back flap thing and this is a YA dystopian novel with a female protagonist, so this story should be fun right?

Eh, not really. This book didn't succeed in convincing me of much of anything and I found I was counting down how many pages were left every time I finished a chapter. I didn't like any of the characters enough to care about them and I didn't really know what they wanted (other than to survive from day to day).

Lucy was sort of like Bella Swan from Twilight in the way that she is antisocial and so clutzy it makes me almost concerned there may be an inner-ear issue going on or something that throws them so off balance. Though Lucy is more competent and slightly more likable than Bella, it isn't by much. I will say that Lucy is a tough cookie though. She suffered a lot of bodily harm in this book, but managed to survive by herself for a year and make it to the end of the story alive.

Mostly I was just confused which leads me to be frustrated. I probably wouldn't have finished this book if I hadn't promised to read it for SPC.

I haven't been through enough apocalypses or biology classes to know what would be realistic or not, but this didn't seem believable to me. Does weather act like this? Do plagues? Do people react like this? I don't know.

Ashes, Ashes is forgettable and almost pointless. On the back of the book there is the phrase "The world has ended...what comes next?" Well, if you are looking for the answer, it isn't in this book.
813 reviews2 followers
April 13, 2012
Global warming has wrecked havoc on New York City. Streets and highways have been turned to rivers and Central Park now has an ocean view. Four years later, a virulent plague strikes and wipes out much of the world's population, leaving a remnant of less than one percent living.
Lucy is the sole survivor of her family; everyone she knows has died. Now she makes her home in the wilds of Central Park. For a while she lived in a city shelter, but the Sweepers kept abducting people for some unknown reason. She was scared and fled. Thankfully she had a survival manual and the gumption to make it on her own. One of her survival techniques was to avoid other survivors . This worked well until the day when she was surrounded by a pack of vicious dogs with no obvious escape.

Aidan to the rescue. He has been living with a large group of survivors a few miles away, and he has been keeping an eye on Lucy. Lucky for her, as he helps her escape the dogs. A few days later, when disaster strikes yet again, Lucy has no choice but to seek out Aidan and the community he lives in.
This book started with a plausible premise. The population of the world has been decimated and there is an ongoing threat that the plague will re-surface. Where it fell apart was due to several factual errors. These were so distracting that I couldn't enjoy the rest of the book. I started by listening to the Oasis Audio book version of this story. It was read by Cassandra Campbell. She did a wonderful job; it was easy to differentiate between the different characters and to feel their excitement and anxiety as the story progressed. Nine hours 46 minutes. While listening to the book, I was driving on the highway and thought that I had mis-heard a passage. I was under the impression that there was still a large remnant population:

it was the resurgence of a killer disease that had reduced the global population to less than 1 percent of what it had been within three short months. page 4

This would mean that there was approximately 70 million population of the world, of that 5 million in the United States. A few chapters later:

most people had contracted the plague in the first wave of contagion. Out of every one million people, 999,999 had died. Most of the survivors were picked off by the second wave. page 53

This means that from a population of 500 million (I don't know the dates when this story starts nor what the actual population of the United States would be on that date, so I am making an assumption), there would be less than 500 people surviving the first wave in the United States, and that most of them would die in the second wave. To be generous, lets say 20 % of them survived, that leaves 100 survivors in all of the United States. I'm being really generous as on page 140 we are told that "Of those who contracted the mutated hemorrhagic smallpox in the second wave, maybe one in a million survived." Well, there are now no survivors.

Having been told on page 39 that "People had left the cities in droves" it seems unlikely that almost all of those survivors would be living in the area of Central Park. On page 126 we learn that "There were close to seventy-five when I first came," living in Aidan's settlement. Add to this the number living in the shelter that Lucy had been living in, that would be all the remnant population for the entire country. This doesn't include the Sweepers and anyone else that are living with them.

As I said, I was listening to the audio book while driving and figured that I must have misheard the survival rate and that instead of one in a million people surviving, it must have been one in a hundred thousand. I borrowed the book from my local library to check the facts. That is where I obtained the above quotes. From this point on, the story was ruined for me. Two more factual errors turned the story into a poorly researched and written book. Where was the editor and the fact checker?

Anyone who has ever used a mercury based thermometer knows that you shake the thermometer before you put the instrument in the mouth. Well, not in this book, they must have used some new style thermometer that no one I spoke with has ever heard of:

When he turned around again, he held a thermometer. "Open again." She opened her mouth and he placed it beneath her tongue....and removed the thermometer. He shook it a couple of times and, squinted at it, trying to read the numbers." pages 105-106
According to the dozen or so mothers that I consulted, the shaking would have moved the mercury back to the bulb and there would have been a very low temperature to read, yet Lucy's reading was normal. The teens that I spoke with had no idea what a mercury thermometer was.

Later the same day in the story, Lucy is helping to cook dinner. She has chopped up several rabbits for the soup pot. The onions and carrots are already cooking in the bottom of a huge pot over an open fire. They are feeding approximately 40 people, thus a lot of soup is required.

He led her to where the others were standing around a large pot on the fire....About forty pounds of carrots and onions simmered in the bottom page 145
They added the rabbit, chopped potatoes and then a large bucket of water.

The good smells were making Lucy woozy. She sat down on a bench and closed her eyes, letting the fragrant steam wash over her. Aidan sat down beside her. "About fifteen minutes," page 146
There is no apparent lapse of time between when the rabbit, potatoes and water go in the pot and when Aidan tells her dinner will be ready in fifteen minutes. There is not sufficient time for the water to come to a boil, let alone for the potatoes to cook. As any cook will know, after the water comes to a boil, it will take at least 20 minutes for the potatoes to cook. I consulted several home cooks and The Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker, and they stated that at least 1 hours, but more often 1 1/2 to 2 hours is required to safely cook rabbit. It must be cooked long enough to kill the medium causing tularemia and trichinosis.

I admit that teens reading this book will mostly miss the information about the thermometer and the rabbit cooking, but there is no reason that they should not be baffled by the survival statistics. I have read dozens of reviews of this book, and only one other reader has commented on this confusion. I can't understand how the editor missed these factual errors. The book copy that I checked this with is a first edition, it is possible that corrections have been made in subsequent printings.

I find it disturbing that this book has been selected for the Forest of Reading program in the White Pine category in Ontario. This means it is widely promoted in the schools and public libraries.
Profile Image for Stacey (prettybooks).
515 reviews1,548 followers
September 8, 2016
I had wanted to read Ashes, Ashes for such a long time – it received high ratings when reviews started to emerge so I put at the top of my mental “young adult dystopia ‘must read’ list”. However, now that I’ve read it, I’m not entirely sure it is a dystopian novel. I think people can get confused and think that if it’s a futuristic novel (especially if it’s an apocalyptic novel) then it’s automatically dystopian. While I’m not completely certain (and therefore it shall remain on my YA dystopia list), I personally wouldn’t put it in the dystopian genre. It’s much more like Life as We Knew It. It focuses on life in a post-apocalyptic (or apocalyptic - 99% of the world’s population has been killed off by a terrible plague but there’s no indication that the apocalypse is over and therefore they may not be living in a post-apocalyptic world…). Genres can be tricky things.

Pedantic discussion of genres aside, I really loved Ashes, Ashes. It may not have the dramatic action sequences that similar books have but I think it works really well in this case. There’s a lack of dialogue in the first few chapters, which it has been criticised for, but I cannot see why that is. We watch as sixteen-year-old Lucy attempts to survive alone in the wild. I personally find this sort of storyline fascinating and I think it shows that a story doesn’t necessarily need to constantly have conversations to be exciting and engaging.

Nonetheless, Lucy eventually does make contact with other humans and this is where it begins to get complicated for her. Ashes, Ashes is an inspiring survival story and raises the question of whether it’s better to band together or go it alone. It makes you think “What would I do in this situation?”. I pretty much adored all the characters – Aidan (the love-interest – yes it features romance but it isn’t the main focus of the book, which is important to note), Del (what’s up with her?), Henry (hilarious), as well as Leo, Sammy and Grammalie Rose (extremely admirable characters). I wanted to find out more about them all. It had the same sense of wonder and fear of what was going to happen as in Life as We Knew It but had the added thriller-type intrigue of what exactly do the Sweepers want with members of the camp and why have they taken particular interest in Lucy?

While the ending isn’t perfect, I thought it was satisfactory and it didn’t ruin my overall enjoyment of the novel – I still loved it. It gets points from me for being a standalone novel (so rare these days within YA fiction) although it doesn’t quite work as well as it could have. Without giving too much away, the climatic ending needed much more detail, which would have most likely made it more exciting, horrifying and perhaps would have pushed it into the dystopian genre. And that’s what we want, right?

Overall, even though I wouldn’t describe this as a dystopian novel, I thoroughly enjoyed Ashes, Ashes and I’d say that it’s still well worth reading. It most likely would still interest fans of young adult dystopia.

Dystopian or Not Dystopian? Not Dystopian

I also reviewed this book over on Pretty Books.
Profile Image for Ash.
86 reviews9 followers
August 30, 2011
This really had a lot of promise, but (…oh, there is always a but) it just didn’t do it for me. The author could’ve done so much more, but didn’t take advantage of what she’d already set up. It was interesting, but not really exciting.

Quick Overview: 16 year-old Lucy is surviving on her own in the wilds of Central Park, while floods and droughts still plague New York City. The ravage of natural disasters and the epidemic that killed millions of the population leaves Lucy as the last survivor of her family. The S’ans (infected survivors of the plague) still roam the city. Lucy hasn’t been in contact with another person in months until a boy named Aidan rescues her from a pack of ravage dogs hunting her. He tells her that he lives with a group of other survivors. After her shelter is destroyed she looks for Aidan and the settlement and suprisingly finds herself at home among them. But the people of the settlement are being taken by the Sweepers and no one knows what they’re doing to them. It’s up to Lucy and Aidan to save their friends, but it’s exactly what the Sweepers want.

This had a lot going for it, but everything was just…okay. I mean, how excited can you really be when you’ve been practically told the entire story in the blurb? Honestly, everything in the blurb is exactly what you get in the book. The last 30 pages is the only thing you don’t know is going to happen. Not to mention I guessed all the “twists” waaaaay before. I couldn’t really grasp or feel the disaster that the book describes and I noticed that I didn’t really feel a whole lot towards Lucy. The romance is a little lack luster. There’s some stuff that isn’t really explained, like Aidan’s background or anyone else’s really besides Lucy’s. The villain (and some of the other characters) are weird. The things they do don’t make ANY sense with their character.

I liked some things, like the fact that Lucy used a survival guide instead of being some natural Amazonian warrior. The idea of the S’ans was also interesting, but again that isn’t really talked about. The reason why the Sweepers are taking people should’ve been brought more to the forefront of the book. It was the best thing it had going for it. The book lacks a message (or at least a distinct one). At the very end there seems to be a bit of a slap-on effort to give the book a point, but it’s just stuck in there without any real air time. Also, I kept waiting for something to happen. For being a dystopia book it’s surprising how much doesn’t happen. I think I had certain expectations for this book because of the other dystopia books that I’ve read. This book would be good for younger readers or someone who’s just starting out in the dystopia genre, but you won’t find much nitty-gritty action with a resonating message in this.
Profile Image for The BookWhisperer.
1,728 reviews134 followers
April 27, 2011
Ashes, Ashes is a terrifyingly realistic view at the world s end. BookWhisperer is not known for books such as this one; after several struggles this is usually a book that I would have avoided. Much to my surprise Ashes, Ashes will be the first of this type of book on my favorites list. Lucy is the strong and courageous sixteen year old that will follow throughout this novel. Being the soul survivor of her entire family she has set out to living in the wild alone. It is remarkable to follow this young girl as she struggles to survive in a world where the population has been wiped out down to a mere third. After the natural disasters that reeked havoc over the entire world the survivors then battled the plague that swarmed the remaining population. This was a terrifying look at the apocalypse that would leave every reader pondering their future. The romantic twist for Lucy and Aidan was a sweet hopeful addition that give readers moments of happiness to grasp through this story. This simple addition gives readers future hope the story that they will follow, and possibility for a dramatic happily ever after. As far as I can tell this is only this authors second novel, but I am utterly impressed by her ability to present such an intriguing story. If this is a glimpse at the works possible from this author I look for many more great books.
Profile Image for Greta is Erikasbuddy.
851 reviews28 followers
July 2, 2011
A weathery mix of "The Day After TOmorrow" meets an "I am Legend" infection mingled with the pocket kife of "Survivor Man".

Sounds cool right?


Or at least on my end.

I found myself kinda hoping that the main character drowned or fell into a volcano.

Not my cup of Pepsi but you might like it ;)

I really thought I would have liked it..... RATS! Hates it when the description is better than the words inside.
Profile Image for Steffi.
2,933 reviews166 followers
February 17, 2019
"Ashes, Ashes" hat eine Ewigkeit auf meinem Sub gelegen und aktuell habe ich mal wieder richtig Lust auf Dystopien, daher habe ich mir das Buch spontan aus dem Regal gezogen.

Das Buch hat ein klasse world-building, etwas was ich bei jüngeren Dystopien in letzter Zeit immer öfter vermisst habe. Die Autorin beschreibt richtig gut wie die Welt aktuell aussieht und was in der Vergangenheit passiert ist.

Leider passiert darüber hinaus nicht allzu viel. Die Geschichte zieht sich sehr und auch der Spannungsbogen ist eher mäßig ausgeprägt. Daher bin ich insgesamt eher enttäuscht von der Geschichte und da konnte auch das super world-building nicht mehr allzu viel retten.

Die Charaktere sind für meinen Geschmack sehr flach geblieben und auch die Liebesgeschichte wirkte zu erzwungen.
July 8, 2014
{June 24th, 2014} THE REVIEW

2.5 stars.

I'm only doing this now because I'm worried that I won't get the chance to go back and actually finish my notes without rereading it again. Either way, I've pretty much said most of the problems I had dealt with while reading in my previous update.

I'm sorry for the really lacklustre of a promise for an interesting review, but I'm just too tired to relive it again at the moment... >_<;

{June 20th, 2014} RTC

Haven't spammed posted my update responses to reading this yet, but a little heads up. I have finished reading this and I got my notes. And like I originally thought I'm not a very happy camper. Especially when it reads as a 1st POV and yet it is in 3rd POV (limited). *facepalm*

The characters are rather flat-ish (more like molded predictable roles like every YA Dystopian has apparently), the MC heroine--Lucy--irked me something terrible, there's a several lack of plot, numbers that make zero sense, the list goes on for quite a bit. Just...wow, starting the first few words of the first chapter made me groan and wince--hence reminding me why I stopped reading in the first place pretty much three years ago. It just dis-attaches the reader almost completely somewhat, at least for me it did nearly the whole way through.

And most importantly...IT BRINGS PRETTY MUCH NOTHING NEW TO THE GENRE. *groans painfully*

This review will be certainly something this time, let me tell ya... >_>;

{March 26th, 2014} UPDATE

It's funny. I actually was looking ALL over for this book when it first came out, and this was after I had saw it when looking for another one and it just stayed with me. I mean dat cover, and dat blurb! It totally felt like something I should read to keep me in the mindset of the whole Dystopian effect that has a washed across the book market...but alas, I did attempt reading this like the first few pages or something...and I groaned lol.

Will be picking this back up since it's been a while, and it's repeatedly in my face when I wake up in the morning on my new bookshelf. But I do know this...I was fooled. And when I'm fooled, I'm not a happy camper. But I'll let the book talk first before I decide its complete fate. But seriously...that writing.... *sighs*

Note: It's been 3yrs since I've picked up this book. Should be more than enough time for me to have a better opinion of it or not.
Profile Image for Kayla K. (Kayla's Book Nook).
357 reviews7 followers
February 2, 2018
Post-apocalyptic books and I just do not mesh- and this was a great example of that. I just found this book to be really weird, not to mention that it bored me to the point when I almost fell asleep while reading it. Since I read this book over a month ago as I write this, I have already forgotten so much of the story. If it weren't for the handy synopsis, I wouldn't even have been able to remember the main character's name. The characters were just so bland and so was the plot- or lack thereof. As much as I wanted to catch onto the big picture and underlying message of this novel, the details and descriptions were just too much for me to enjoy. Unfortunately, Ashes, Ashes wasn't for me, but I would recommend it to readers who are more into post-apocalyptic and darker reads. 
Profile Image for Linna.
341 reviews161 followers
November 27, 2014
ASHES, ASHES is a terrifying reminder of how much I hate camping. Okay, personal bias aside, the survival aspect is a huge part of the story, and the details are so realistic that it didn’t take too much of a leap in imagination to envision Lucy’s harrowing life in post-apocalyptic New York. It’s not glamorized in any way; life is tough, and I loved how what she actually needs to do to survive isn’t just brushed aside.

It does take a while for the plot to kick in, though. While I appreciated taking the time to get to know our protagonist, the background information kind of all came out in one infodump instead of being revealed in a natural, gradual way; it was alienating, but nice to get the set-up out of the way, too. Once Lucy decides to join the other survivors, things start to get interesting. (It is a hundred or so pages later, though.) I thought that the secondary characters ranged from interesting/entertaining– Sammy, Grammalie, Henry– and boring/stereotypical: Aidan and Del being the main offenders. Aidan in particular was the ideal love interest and any love triangle that got in the way was pointless since we know it wouldn’t last.

One of the aspects I loved was the S’ans’ presence. There are the typical zombie-like victims of the plague, the Sweepers, but the S’ans were more unique; they humanized what could’ve been any old human-race-obliterating epidemic. I was genuinely surprised to discover that one of them was related to Aidan, and that familial relationship was touching, especially because having family was so rare in a setting like this. Henry was the typical charmer, but at least he was more interesting than Aidan. Ah well, at least Aidan wasn’t a rebellious bad boy; a little bit of complexity would’ve made his relationship with Lucy a lot more interesting, though. Del was the clingy jealous girl through and through. Even character development didn’t do much to change my opinion of her.

All in all, ASHES, ASHES is a well-written post-apocalyptic novel that doesn’t break new ground, but uses elements that know and love with some decent (if underdeveloped) characters and memorable survivalist details. The ending left me wanting more; and there’s just enough unanswered business for a companion novel, which I wouldn’t hesitate to pick up.
Profile Image for Isaiah.
Author 1 book77 followers
December 16, 2021
To see more reviews check out MI Book Reviews.

So this was found on the side of the road. It makes sense why it was there. It is total trash. I wanted to like it, but I can’t say anything good about it.

My first issue is the continuity from page to page is non-existent. For example there is a scene where the kids are crossing a bridge. Lucy in the process falls and drops her spear over the bridge. Less than five pages later she has her spear back, that spear is then used for most of the remainder of the book to fight for her life. The character did not have a back-up spear, so this spear should not have existed and she should be dead. That would make me happy.

Another issue is the characters are really flat. There is no depth. There is little development of any characters, especially the main character. There is no reason to get hooked on this when it comes to characters as they are all one dimensional, boring, and just bad.

The general plot of the apocalypse is pretty cool, but over the top. Supposedly it started with certain people getting sick, but then the weather changed. The sick people who survived were described as zombies. So the only thing missing from this one is aliens, otherwise we have all the basic plot ideas of how the world is going to end in one. Add in that the main character was raised by anti-vaxxers. So this in the end is a wild love story about anti-vaxxers, which I can’t approve of just on principal. WHY IS THIS A THING? Also, WHY IS THERE A SEQUEL?
Profile Image for Rose.
355 reviews12 followers
January 25, 2022
"You smell like blackberries in the sun. You taste like honey."
Of course this horrid attempt at romance appeared in the epilogue.

It's the next day and I recognize how much I despise this book now. Let's say if it wasn't a teenage favorite this would be a one-star, while I officially move it down to two so I can be satisfied that my rating properly shows my feelings for this book.

What I remember from my original readings of this book: that I loved the romance; I also loved the survival aspects; the fact that there was a weird special blood cure plot; the title's reference to the black plague is cool I guess (of course I read this during COVID); that maybe sometimes I can enjoy a dystopian that isn't the Hunger Games (oh wait). Quite a few years later I recognize that the romance is just a lot of staring, the "plot" is even weirder than I remember, and the survival portions are still the best and sadly only really show up in the beginning portion of the book.


Can I please take this moment to say how much I hate Del as a character? She's constantly hanging on any guy that will look at her, hates Lucy for basically no reason (boys I guess) and therefore is constantly mean to her to the point where side characters are bringing it up confused, and then she does one of the absolute worse things a character does in this book but she's almost instantly forgiven because she was caring for the wee children (who she then leaves by the epilogue). She just feels more like a constant source for drama and less like an actual character.

I guess I should at least talk about the two actual main characters so I'll just say Aidan is your typical blonde brooding YA romantic interest, but I actually liked Lucy as a focus character. She's smart and she's survived in the wilderness on her own for over a year, so when stuff that's supposed to resemble a plot starts to happen she's just as confused as the reader.

✨The Plot✨
(Honey, where is she.)

Now I think technically there were supposed to be two main plots: the weird science blood cure thing (honestly how do I explain this) and the supposed romance. The romance one will be easier to start with since it will just be another paragraph rant.

Let's just start off with the fact that of course, the romance in this has to be a love triangle since it's a YA book published in 2011. Del is supposed to be the other side of the triangle but there's no substance there. Del is semi into Aidan, but he's not into her. Lucy starts to get feelings for Aidan but she notices Del has a thing for him and doesn't wanna deal with that so she's ready to jump off that ship but Aidan's just real into that muddy hair and keeps on bringing her back in with those stares across the fields. Minus one dance scene, nothing comes of this until the last 5 pages when they kiss, and then whoops it's the epilogue and that damn line.

🚨Lowkey Spoilers Ahead. Read This Paragraph At Your Own Risk.🚨
Now time for the weird science blood plotline that I wasn't looking forward to (both in the book and in this review). Now earlier I said Lucy is smart but whenever she was faced with the fact that she has magic cure blood so bluntly she just loses all her brain cells. Like this fact could not hit her harder in the face. There was a point where the big baddie was telling her and she was just sitting there with her coffee all "that's impossible." Basically despite never being vaccinated she never got sick even after her whole family died. At one point her doctor friend straight up says "yeah no one who wasn't vaccinated survived" and she just stood there like "but I no have vaccine." So then an evil scientist lady whose probably crazy steals a bunch of her blood against her will. When Lucy escapes she of course steals all the journals and info on her but only one of the ten vials of her blood and that one vial ends up miraculously saving all their lives a chapter later. And then the last chapter or so was spent setting up a second book that still hasn't come out 10 years later, soooo plot? I don't know her.

The moral of the story is this was good ten years ago but now I'm an adult with actual taste, (I say as I enjoy trashy romance novels) whose lived through a pandemic, and this just doesn't live up to my own hype anymore. But I would still definitely read the second book if it ever comes out.
Profile Image for Jenny.
472 reviews110 followers
June 24, 2011
Review originally posted at: http://supernaturalsnark.blogspot.com...

Actual Rating: 3.5/5

Though Ashes, Ashes presents us with a bleak outlook with regard to the physical state of our world in the future–cities and enormous groups of people decimated by disease, starvation, and forces of nature–we are also given a story lined with hope as we watch the survivors carry on in the face of so much death. First, we get to meet and watch young Lucy spend her days completing tasks we'd like to think we'd be capable of in her situation but yet are not entirely convinced the strength of our resolve would even begin to rival hers. Her commitment to survival helps bolster us against such a desolate environment, her will as a single individual against an empty and frightening world earning our respect and admiration. Then, we are also granted access to a small commune of people after our initial more solitary time with Lucy, able to bear witness to not just the strength of one human being but of humanity as a whole. Where there was a lone survivor before there now stand many, and reading as Lucy starts to recall what it's like to have family lets light filter into the gray and black of a once vibrant city.

Lucy is an incredibly strong young woman, fighting each day to live in a world that could so easily kill her either through an outright attack or by denying her the things she needs to make it through each day. We get brief flashes back to her life before the plague, these little snippets letting us know there's something of great importance about a girl who's been the one out of every 999,999 to live. Her relationship with Aiden is sweet though not overly emotional; their moments together providing a nice warmth but not necessarily setting us on fire or branding us with the memory of their time together. This is a story that seems a bit stronger in plot than in characterization, our connection to any of the characters more superficial reactions to the tragedy of their circumstance than deep-rooted and gut-wrenching attachment, but we are certainly involved in their lives and concerned for their future nonetheless.

While the survival element of this tale is thoroughly engrossing, the Sweepers themselves and the events surrounding the final showdown with them present just a few minor drawbacks. It becomes glaringly obvious to us at the end, once we learn how vital Lucy is to the continuation of humanity should the plague ever mutate and return, that the end goal of finding a cure has become paramount to the doctor in charge of the Sweepers, and the means by which she achieves that goal are irrelevant provided progress is made. Because of this, we think we're going to have a major confrontation between Lucy and a woman who feels science is more important than a handful of human lives no matter how few of them remain, yet she escapes fairly easily and returns home with Aiden seemingly unworried about any future attacks even knowing her importance to the doctor's research.

Additionally, the doctor and her team are extraordinarily well-stocked with food and supplies while everyone else has resorted to primitive hunting and gathering methods, and we are given no explanation as to how they are maintaining their quality of life and receiving shipments of food and medical equipment. Overall, the buildup to the conclusion is well done and keeps us glued to the pages, the events at the end just seem to get resolved with more ease than we are expecting given the fanatical nature of the doctor, and we are left just a little off-kilter as we wonder if she really is going to let Lucy go with so little fight.

Rating: 3.5/5
Profile Image for Linda Cat.
90 reviews
June 7, 2011
Review originally posted to www.books4hearts.com

There is a difference between Post-Apocalyptic fiction and Dystopian fiction. While they run together frequently, dystopias often being the result of an apocalypse, and apocalypses normally creating at least slight dystopias in the way the world is run. Ashes, Ashes has elements of dystopia but is a post-apocalyptic book for the most part (to me, anyway!) and I liked that a lot. I also believe it's a stand-alone, although it could easily be a series, which is always refreshing (I can't stress that enough, can I?).

Ashes, Ashes is horrifyingly realistic seeming. All of the situations, the survival, the way the plague took over the world-- they're all very vivid, very real situations. The main character, Lucy, often reflects on how at first, when the plague originally started, the news would show happy people, nurses and doctors calmly working at the hospital. She then adds that when her parents died, they were nothing like that. Just dying people, failing medicine. The news reverted to pre-recorded footage. I think that's a really important part of the book, or any post-apocalyptic book for me, contrasting the difference between then and before. It really puts the book into perspective.

I just mentioned Lucy. Lucy is very cool. She was a very strong and developed character, and she was also likeable. One of my favorite parts of the book is that Lucy is a strong female character. There is no Bella syndrome, and I think that's important. Even books like The Hunger Games, in which Katniss is also a strong female character, along the way, she tended to kind of lose herself in her feelings toward Peeta and Gale. Lucy does no such thing. The book has romance, but it's not like, hey I was really awesome before and defending myself and now there's a guy so he'll be my knight and shining armor. Ha! Oh, and no love triangle. Thank goodness.

Aiden and all of the other characters were great as well. The book was fabulously written, all vivid and detailed. It was really easy to picture the post-apocalyptic New York. It was interesting, filled with action, and just a good book. Also, I'd like to add that I liked the cover before I read the book, and after reading the book I think it's absolutely perfect, a great reflection of the book. (Feel free to judge this one by it's cover, I'd say.)

If you'd like a good book that's interesting, realistic seeming, vividly written, and filled with survival, try out Ashes, Ashes in two weeks when it comes out! Also, this is definitely on my list of 'things to recommend to people that liked the Hunger Games'.
Thank you Scholastic for giving me the opportunity to review this book.
Profile Image for Maria.
794 reviews100 followers
August 8, 2016
I like Ashes, Ashes.



Ashes, Ashes transported me into a future that is very likely to happen. Environmental catastrophes and epidemics brought humankind back to basics: no electricity, no medicines, no shelter. For the desperation Treggiari instilled in me while walking inside her post-apocalyptic world, I give Ashes, Ashes a 4. For failure to deliver and fully resolve the conflict, I give it a 3.

Lucy is capable of surviving by herself. Her constant enemies are enormous rainshowers, lengthened drought, food, and shelter scarcity. I like it that she has this survival manual (where she got help the most) and a dilapidating yearbook (which reminds her of the life before). I found it interesting that Lucy prefer being alone than join the other survivors. She says by being alone she has a better chance of surviving. It was strange that while Lucy knows how to take care of her everyday needs, she has no idea how to fight. I find that a little disturbing because she needs to be able to defend herself from Scavengers, S’ans, Sweepers, and those ferocious dogs, right? She could’ve have been a formidable heroine if she can fight. I almost admired Del for her impressive fighting skills over Lucy, but no – Del is the girl you would love to hate, and hate her, I did. Aidan is more like a secondary character than the male lead. He’s likeable enough but I found myself liking Sam and Henry more. Aidan just isn’t memorable, I think.

Cheeky romance, check. Action scenes, little check. Post-apocalyptic feel, double check.

I enjoyed Ashes, Ashes despite the lack of concrete ending I expect from a post-apocalyptic book. A little short on twists and a tad bit predictable, read Ashes, Ashes only if you want to be immersed in a future with erratic weathers, insistent plagues, roads full of crevices and taking a bath even once a week is such a privilege. Imagine that!
Profile Image for Alyssa hoffmaster.
161 reviews41 followers
August 6, 2011
I have never been disappointed with a dystopian novel yet, each one is different and original and I love the dystopian genre very much.

Lucy is a loner, she is one of the lucky who hasn’t died from the black plague, everyone in her family had died, she’s all alone, living in the woods, with a homemade shelter, minimal food and water, and lives each day to the fullest, knowing that any time she could die.

Then one day she meets Aidan, she is instantly irritated at his “cool” behavior, she smells like she just crawled out of the sewer while he smells like soap. Aidan saves her life from wild dogs, he tells her he lives in a place called “The Hell Gate” she sees the water at the river rising higher and she knows that a tsunami is coming. She gathers her stuff and heads off to The Hell Gate. There she finds Aidan and many others living in tents and getting by way better than she had.

While she figures out what to do next she stays, while she is there “sweepers” come and raid there area, they take some people each time they come. But the one person they are looking for is Lucy, even though she doesn’t know it yet, Lucy is special, they’re out for her blood.

Every time I read novel like this, I always wish I could communicate with the characters or help them in some ways, it would be awesome to be able to actually interact with the characters while I’m reading about them.

I’ve had “Ashes, Ashes” for awhile now just sitting on my desk and now I finally finished, I really wish I would have read this sooner. I should know better, I always hold off on the really awesome books.
This book was suspenseful and full of action and romance, I did predict the betrayal of a certain character, but I was just as confused as Lucy and Aidan about Dr. Lessing, was she good or evil? If you want to know the answer to this question, go out and pick up a copy of it!

Profile Image for ILoveBooks.
977 reviews10 followers
July 25, 2011
This book is a very intriguing read. The main character, Lucy, has survived a virus that killed off 99% of the Earth's population-including her family. Lucy is a very industrious girl; she lives on her own and survives by herself. The action begins right away in this novel; the reader will not be bored. Lucy meets Aidan after he helps her evade a pack of wild dogs. She joins him and the other survivors; the reader will enjoy meeting the various different personalities.
Of course, there is always the danger aspect. Lucy is not entirely safe; there are "sweepers" on the loose. Sweepers work for the government to round up survivors like Lucy to study them and attempt to discover why they survived the virus. It is not long before Lucy catches on that she is an integral part in discovering a cure.
The book is not written entirely in the present tense, there are flashbacks to the past. The reader will experience, alongside Lucy, how life was before the virus. Lucy and her family were happy and "normal."
There are a few different qualities to this story: action, romance, mystery, drama, etc... Lucy is a strong female character; readers will appreciate this since strong females leads are not common in survivalist novels. Lucy and Aidan have a bit of a budding romance; however, this is not the forefront of the story.
The author allows the reader into this post-apocalyptic world; the environment is tangible to the reader. There is a lack of dialogue in the beginning of the novel as Lucy is alone for the first portion, but there is dialogue throughout the rest of the novel. The story is very fast-paced and new developments occur to hold the reader's interest. This novel is highly recommended for young adult/teen readers, specifically those who enjoy science fiction and action-filled novels.
Profile Image for Kribu.
510 reviews52 followers
May 27, 2012
I wanted to like this book. I did. It's got the elements I want in a post-apocalyptic survival book, and some of those actual survival bits were the ones I really did like about Ashes, Ashes, from the protagonist having a looted survival manual to survivors banding together, growing their own food and what not.

Unfortunately, the characters were rather flat, the central love story/relationship as cliché as they come , there were bad, bad maths problems , plot points that made no sense at all .

So. Yeah. A book that had promise, but the execution was just too faulty for me to enjoy it.
Profile Image for Donna .
485 reviews124 followers
August 18, 2011
Ashes, Ashes is a YA dystopian that takes place in future New York. The country has been ravaged by a viral epidemic and weather related disasters, the population has been decimated and there are pockets of survivors doing the best they can to manage from day to day. Lucy, the main character, is isolated, dirty, living in caves, doing what she needs to do to survive and not draw the attention of the "sweepers". The sweepers are a sinister group that hunts down and kidnaps survivors. Lucy meets Aiden and is introduced to the people in his group when he saves her from a pack of dogs that were apparently sent by these sweepers to hunt for her.

I've really been enjoying dystopians lately, and while Ashes, ashes is not among my favorites of those, it was an okay read. It starts off rather sluggish but I think the author did a good job of showing what it would take to survive in a world like this. I think the interactions between Lucy, Aiden, and her nemesis Del are entertaining and believable. I enjoyed the rivalry between Lucy and Del. The romance between Lucy and Aiden, however, seemed rather hollow.

The plot was interesting but had an odd kind of flow to it. I sometimes found myself a little confused about where it was heading and why. Ultimately I felt Ashes, Ashes was a good debut. I believe that if the plot had been a little more developed, it would have been amazing. It held my interest and kept me reading, I wasn't blown away but I wasn't bored to tears either.
Profile Image for Megan.
633 reviews37 followers
March 8, 2012
Ok... well...

What I liked - Lucy... Sammy... everything in-between the extreme descriptions.

Don't get me wrong, I like an author with a clear point of view but I also don't need a road map with every hedge, pebble and sidewalk explained to me in order to get to my destination.

Also there didn't really seem to be a whole lot to the book. The same kind of stuff keeps happening with no real surprises. I kept thinking, alright this time it's going to be different. But the story never took a different path. In hoping to find a story that consisted of bright florescent colours I found a story of pastels.

I suppose the author may have been lulling the reader into the monotonous world that the characters find themselves in. Life in a camp where things must be done daily in order to survive with the typical threats that come from someone new who brings different ideas and certain charms to the game.

In the end this book is a prime example of why one should never judge a book by its cover! I had stated that to me there was a very cinematic quality to the cover yet in the end the story was a bit like a halfhearted mini-series on a wanna-be cable station!

Profile Image for Colleen.
Author 3 books39 followers
May 27, 2011
Holy adrenaline rush!!! From the opening scene until the very end there was action galore. But there was also wonderful character development and lots of twisted and turns.

I loved it. It's exactly what dystopian, post-apocalyptic YA should be. A must-read for fans of the genre.

I'll have two signed copies up for auction at http://slavelakebookauction.wordpress... next week!
Profile Image for Noninn.
26 reviews
March 7, 2018
Dystopian is my favourite genre of books to read. I liked the idea of this story and was looking forward to reading it. I would have liked more action and felt that it was difficult to grow attached to the characters, although they had the makings of being great characters.
Profile Image for Nadine in NY Jones.
2,749 reviews217 followers
September 12, 2019
This is solidly YA. It’s reasonably entertaining, fast-moving, breezy, slightly irreverent, and fun - all the hallmarks I’d expect in YA! It has limited cross-over appeal for an adult reader, however. (Naturally, a plague has killed off almost everyone between the ages of 20 & 60, plus a lot of people outside that age range.) There’s a good deal of smirking, which almost always annoys me (personal quirk?)

I read a lot of post apocalyptic - slash - dystopian books. I love me a good covert operation working to take down an oppressive shadow regime in a world that’s difficult to survive. So, I’ve read a lot of these, and that may be why this book felt so ... blah. Also, it didn’t always make sense. If much of Manhattan is flooded, food is at a premium, civilization is over, and you don’t want to be captured by the scary guys on Roosevelt Island ... why oh why would you hole up in Central Park???? It would make some sense if our heroine grew up in Manhattan, but she’s from NJ!!! NJ, which undoubtably has lots of usable, uninhabited farm land, and very few scary guys from Roosevelt Island.

It’s kind of ridiculous that But ok, this is YA, maybe these “plot twists” won’t be so obvious to teens??

I also found it very ridiculous that everyone is white. They are in NYC, an extraordinarily diverse area. The survivors would be a multiethnic group. And I really didn't like that the plague survivors were identifiable by their darkened, “swarthy” skin. Uh???

Other questions:
* why is Aidan’s camp called “Hell Gate”? I thought it was maybe located in Hells Kitchen, but it sounds like it's a lot farther north.
* why does Treggiari think bread made with water (no milk) would be unpleasantly dense & dry?

Cassandra Campbell does her best to inject some life into this story, but unfortunately it’s one of those annoying audiobooks that plays ludicrous “suspenseful” music between chapters.
Profile Image for Sierra Bowdre.
11 reviews
March 20, 2017
Ashes, Ashes by Jo Treggiari is a Post-apocalyptic book set in the future after the global warming finally started to take a toll causing unusual temperature changes, flash floods, earthquakes, and lightning storms. Doing so destroys civilization, toppling cities, and changing the landscape. The worst is still yet to come, the plague an eradicating disease whipping out the population. It kills in a matter of hours. The vaccinated are safe for now soon the virus mutates killing more and more the populations dropping and hysteria rising. The surviving are horrible scarred left with the red eyes as memories of the past. Lucy has survived this, a disease that killed 99.9% of the population, Crazy natural disasters, and changing temperature She's been surviving in a park outside the crumpled remains of the city she grew up in with her family. Eating squirrels and turtles sleeping on rolled up grass in a hut made of trees, grass, mud, and a tarp for a roof. One night full of unfortunate circumstances she ends up in a tree with a stranger named Adam he saves her from a pack of hunting dogs belonging to sweepers who kidnap any remaining survivors. A tsunami chases her back to Adam to his camp, the hell gate. There she slowly becomes family until one night the sweepers invade the camp taking two of her new found friends Leo and Del. Del escapes, being the first one ever, soon they find Leo who has the plague, what was thought to be eradicated. Before he dies he warns them that the hospital, where the sweepers are from, are infecting people trying to find the cure. Lucy Adam and Del go to the hospital where the sweepers come from to free the children who have been taken. And soon the answers unfold.
A Strong point of the story was how in depth it was you got the main character, Lucy's background how she managed to survive and how her life was before the plague and you got all of her emotions about what was going on.
Some weak points were that the book progresses quickly not stopping for the big scenes it's kinda like one big slide show, big thing after another. Changes around every corner and behind every door.
Id recommend this book to honestly anyone. Do you like romance? Check. Do you like action? Cheak. Do you like post-apocalyptic? Check and check. It's just a great book though and though.
The story is very believable the world is warming up temperatures are changing weather patterns are changing. Causing more natural disasters more dangerous that the last. The idea the plague could come back worse than ever before is a real threat maybe not the plague itself but ebola or another life-threatening disease. It could be cancer with the way the numbers keep rising. This should be an eye-opener to realize this could be us or our kids in the future. Change starts now with realizing global warming is real.

Sierra Bowdre ★★★★

Profile Image for Laurie.
182 reviews5 followers
June 22, 2017
This is another dystopian novel written for young adults. Still, I LOVE reading the young adult books because they are what I have taught for a melee of years (Just retired from teaching. Congratulate me. Nice!!) I will always love this type of book because they normally have nonstop action, and this one is just like most of the others with that and more. The characters are well rounded, the story is very intense and holds a reader's attention, and the imagery is great. If you want a quick read that is dystopian, tive this book a try. However, it is number one in a series, so beware. You will soon be looking for book #2.... and more.
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