Title: Ashes, Ashes
Author: Jo Treggiari
Pages: Hardcover; 343
Release Date: June 1, 2011
Intended Reading Group:
5 Keys to My Heart
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.
Imagine if you will a city that is completely torn apart. Buildings are crumbled, highways decimated, and the population that is left is holding onto the hope that they'll be okay long enough to rebuild and just live. That is the picture that Jo Treggiari builds for the reader from the instant you open Ashes, Ashes. I was so blown away by the drive that all these characters had, just to survive from day to day. I tell you, books like this remind me why I should be so glad to have everything I do.
As the story begins, we meet "Lucky" Lucy and find out her back story. She has chosen to live alone, and rely on her own survival skills to get buy. I have to say that I fell in love with her instantly. Lucy isn't a character who is tough, strong, and somehow impenetrable despite the odds. She's also very human. The fact that I got to see her falter, see her second guess her choices, was amazing to me. It reminded me that she was just a person who, thrown into a very desperate situation, was doing the best that she could. Add in the fact that she's rather young, and you have a character that I can get behind 100%.
However it wasn't just Lucy who had me smitten with this book. All the characters who come onto the scene are different, interesting and have a depth that I couldn't get enough of. I don't want to ruin a minute of this amazing book for you, but Ashes, Ashes is populated with some of the most believable characters I've met in a long time. Following them in their daily work, watching them band together to protect one another and survive. It was kind of tough, I'll admit, but also amazingly rewarding. Jo Treggiari shows us the deepest depths of the human spirit, and I can't say enough how much I appreciated that.
Lest I gush about characters for days, and I could, I'll move on to the plot. The story line in this book moves quickly, but never too fast that I was left behind. There are portions that might seem a little description heavy, but I understood quickly that these were there to show me the daily monotony that these survivors faced. Jo Treggiari writes so descriptively, in fact, that if I closed my eyes I could almost see myself working right beside them, amongst the rubble and desolate landscape. Even imaging it now sends shivers up my spine. Well-written is a bit of an understatement, but not even I am sure how to aptly describe what you'll find between these pages. There is a deeper plot hidden in here as well, but I won't divulge what it is.You'll have to see for yourself. Suffice it say that Lucy is very important in this book, and it was fascinating watching it all unfold.
It boils down to this. I am a huge fan of dystopian fiction. To me, the two most important things in books like Ashes, Ashes are the setting and the characters. Treggiari not only successfully showed me both of these, but essentially hit them out of the park. I was in love with every minute of this book while I read it, and I'm holding on to my copy so I can read it again. Ashes, Ashes will be a book that is now added to my pile of dog-eared, constantly read, and well-loved books. I cannot recommend this title enough.
FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.