cover image Ashes


Ilsa J. Bick. Egmont USA, $17.99 (480p) ISBN 978-1-60684-175-4

Bick delivers an action-packed tale of an apocalypse unfolding, launching a trilogy with flair. While camping in a national park in Michigan, 17-year-old Alex, a girl coping with a brain tumor and the side effects of its treatment, survives a series of electromagnetic pulses that may have taken out the entire world. Miles from nowhere, she hikes with new companions%E2%80%94an obstinate eight-year-old orphan named Ellie and a young soldier named Tom%E2%80%94as they try to make sense of things. Aside from wrecking their equipment, the pulse has killed most adults and morphed young people into psychotic flesh-eating monsters that are soon dubbed the Changed. Alex is different, too (her formerly dead sense of smell is now nearly supernaturally strong), and the companions worry about their own potential to "Change" as they attempt to find other survivors. Bick (Draw the Dark) doesn't shy away from gore%E2%80%94one woman's guts "boiled out in a dusky, desiccated tangle, like limp spaghetti"%E2%80%94but it doesn't derail the story's progress. If readers have any complaint, it will be with the ending, which only sets up the next book. Ages 14%E2%80%93up. (Sept.)