Thursday, July 14, 2011

Ashes, Ashes - Jo Treggiari

Title: Ashes, Ashes
Author: Jo Treggiari
Publisher: Scholastic, 2011 (Hardcover)
Length: 341 pages
Genre: Young Adult; Dystopian Fiction, Science Fiction
Started: July 6th, 2011
Finished: July 11, 2011

From the author's website:
A thrilling tale of adventure, romance, and one girl's unyielding courage through the darkest of nightmares.

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.

This is more of a post-apocalyptic survival story rather than a typical dystopian, and I love those types of stories, but I found I was disappointed by this one.

Lucy is a survivor in futuristic New York City that has been decimated by global warming floods, followed by a virulent strain of plague that seems like smallpox mixed with bird-flu that manages to wipe out all but one percent of the world's people. Surviving all by herself in what remains of Central Park, she soon realizes she can't continue on her own when the park is further flooded, destroying her camp. She joins up with Aidan's group of fellow survivors, all children and the elderly, who are frequently attacked by teams of Sweepers that kidnap people and take them to an island health facility, never to be seen from again. When it becomes obvious that the Sweepers are looking for Lucy specifically, for a reason she's not aware of, she and Aidan and what remains of the group are determined to go and rescue their imprisoned friends.

This book started out leaving me unsatisfied. When the narrator is explaining Lucy's backstory and how things got to this point in the world, I felt rushed, like I was being brought up to speed in a recap of stuff already previously explained but actually wasn't. So there was no real world-building here, which I would have liked to see more of, or just done better. Next, the plot seems so spastic, the author goes from focus to focus to the point where I wasn't sure what the point of the story was. At first Lucy is surviving by herself, which was cool to see, then she goes to Aidan's community and commune living stuff happens, then the sci-fi stuff at the end about the blood and vaccines. I'm sure the plot could have remained as is without changes, but it definitely could have flowed better. The characters fell flat for me, there was more time spent on plot than character development, so I really didn't give a damn if Lucy lived or not because I wasn't emotionally invested in her, or Aidan, or any of the group, especially Del since she was petty and annoying. Because the characters weren't developed, in my opinion, the romance didn't work, which wasn't a big part of the book anyway.

All in all, this book really fell flat for me, which is sad because I think it had the potential to be awesome based on the basic plot alone, it just wasn't executed all that well. The author's writing style wasn't bad either, so perhaps this was just poor plotting.

Sadly, not all that great, which was disappointing.

Thoughts on the cover:
I love the ruined buildings with the flood waters and the position of Lucy and Aidan looking out towards them. I don't like how the characters are supposed to be ragged and dirty, yet the models, especially Lucy's, are wearing almost perfect clothes with decent hair...c'mon, it's said they ran out of detergent and can't wear plant fibres, at least make them look like they're desperate in the clothing department.

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