Author: Ilsa J. Bick
Genre: YA Post-Apocalyptic, Horror
See it at Goodreads
The Apocalypse does not end. The Changed will grow in numbers. The Spared may not survive.
Even before the EMPs brought down the world, Alex was on the run from the demons of her past and the monster living in her head. After the world was gone, she believed Rule could be a sanctuary for her and those she’d come to love.
But she was wrong.
Now Alex is in the fight of her life against the adults, who would use her, the survivors, who don’t trust her, and the Changed, who would eat her alive.
Welcome to Shadows, the second book in the haunting apocalyptic Ashes Trilogy: where no one is safe and humans may be the worst of the monsters.
Before I begin my review of Shadows, I have two warnings for you:
1. This may be a long review.
2. I’m going to try to avoid spoilers from Ashes, but I really can’t promise this right now. It’s hard to review sequels sometimes, ya know?
Okay, back to it then.
Shadows freaked my freak. It’s so rare for me to pick up sequels and love them as much as I do the first book. I only have a few authors that make this list actually, and now Bick is on there. I can see where every reader might not enjoy this sequel as much though. It’s quite busy. There’s a lot going on, and many characters, but there was something about it that just kept me glued to the pages. Ashes was one of my favorite books last year. Shadows makes my favorites for this year.
People, I really had nightmares. I quickly discovered I couldn’t sit up real late at night reading this book, because my imagination ran so wild and it went right into my dreams. It was frightening.
Bick has created this post-apocalyptic world where zombies have taken over. The thing is, they’re not your typical zombie. This is a unique new type of species I think, Changed from the EMP event that happened in Ashes. They’re not all mindless, shuffling, groaning monsters. In this world, most are rather intelligent. They handle firearms, travel in packs, have ways of communication amongst each other. It is so creepy and frighteningly realistic that at times I had to remind myself I was reading fiction. What I also really like about this whole series in general so far is that while it fits in YA, it has major cross-over appeal. It is mature, wild, boldly graphic, and raw. I find it incredibly suitable for most audiences, men and women. Fan of The Walking Dead? You just may love this trilogy, too. Though, I’m in no way comparing because I find the trilogy to be a completely unique story in itself to stand out on its own.
Details are graphic, yet well-crafted. They are easily visualized. And damn, Bick is a master at writing descriptions through smells and scents. This might not be a read for someone who has a weak stomach if you want my honest opinion. But my gosh, the action that is put into this. It’s just BAM- in your face. I loved it.
There are many new and old characters introduced in this installment. I’ve seen some reviewers find complaint over the vast amount of characters, but I personally didn’t have a problem because they didn’t blur together for me. The main ones that played the larger roles had their own stand-out personalities and were memorable in their own ways. With Ashes, it was mostly told in Alex’s view if I remember correctly. Here in Shadows, it was told from multiple views so that the reader could get a better grasp of what was going on with some of the various main characters and around them. Again, this wasn’t a problem for me at all, and I rather liked the format of the story. I found it to be broader, and I was on the edge of my seat so much wondering what was going on with these characters and what would happen next. I think in this area, it depends on the reader’s preference.
One of the characters I found most interesting was Wolf. He was a Changed guy and never had any dialogue, but there was something about him that I found extremely Anti-Hero. Sure, he was still evil. He tore people apart. But he held this strange almost protective interest over Alex and I just kept thinking of him as this potential anti-hero that I kind of hope to see more development of in the next installment. I really don’t know if it was Bick’s intention to create an anti-hero out of Wolf, but that was my complete interpretation of him. I’m really looking forward to seeing what other readers think of him, too.
Often times, I forgot this installment took place within months after the EMPs from Ashes. I kept wanting to imagine that it was a couple of years later or more. Mostly because the world I was envisioning was so vastly different, destroyed, or whatever from all of the Changed. I’m curious about big cities. I would be really interested to see some characters perhaps travel through one and see the difference between before and after. The details, however, in the descriptions during everyone’s travels and unfortunate events are astounding. Sometimes extremely graphic, sometimes really sad (yes, some there are some detailed animal deaths, I’m sorry to say, but I expected it for this dark world), and sometimes just horrifying. I found that Bick’s take on the human mentality during chaos was spot on. Humans can be just as evil as the monsters. You have to be careful who to trust. It’s extremely realistic at how much people change, how much of their true nature comes out, and the terrifying thoughts of what kind of power could take control if/when some kind of devastating disaster strikes. While there’s an entertaining and compelling story to be read, underneath, I found hidden messages here and there that really made me stop and think. Once again, not sure if that was the author’s true intention--only my interpretations.
The ending nearly had me in tears. And I was left with yet another wild cliffhanger that tore me to shreds. While I love cliffhangers, I can really hate them sometimes too. Especially when I’m so ready for the next book NOW already. Argh. Another long wait for me again until the next. It’s going to eat me up.
Please, please, please hurry, book three. I might go a little bit insane waiting.
P.S. Did I mention that today is the release date? Happy book birthday!