Author: Ilsa J. Bick
Series: 2nd book in the Ashes trilogy
Publication Date: September 25, 2012
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
I had to take a minute to catch my breath and collect my thoughts before writing this review. I have so much to say and I'm not sure where to start, but I know that I want to keep this one shorter than my Ashes review...that one was a novel in itself. Suffice it to say, Shadows was one jaw-dropping moment after another, and though I feared for Alex, I never wanted it to end.
Shadows resumes right where Ashes left off, but I suggest that you re-read Ashes before diving into this second installment. There are flashbacks and other methods used to refresh your memory, but they don't happen all at once in the first chapter like in so many novels, and so I found myself a bit confused in the beginning. I rather liked that feeling, though...as if I were in the thick of things right along with Alex, not knowing who to trust or where to turn.
Lies and betrayal. Aside from running from/fighting off the Changed, the Chuckies, the zombies -- whatever you want to call them at this point -- that seemed to be the main theme. In Ashes, we only read from Alex's point-of-view, and so we only knew people's motivations as she saw them. But in Shadows, there are so many perspectives that it's hard to keep track of at times. Some of them actually led to a better insight into character motivations. Some led to comprehension of the environmental and behavioral changes as a result of the EMP blast that changed the world as these characters knew it. Some just drove me crazy, despite any awareness or understanding they might have left me with. All said and done, though, they all tell a very realistic, if not horrific, version of the events after the EMP detonation.
SOOOO much happens in Shadows. So much running. So much fighting. So much hoping. And although this novel is 528 pages, it never felt long. The pacing was such that I could barely catch my breath between chapters and POV changes. I was steadfastly attempting to figure out just what was going on, who was on who's side, but as much as I tried, I was constantly proven wrong. This novel may be a lot of things, but predictable is not one of them.
I recently read Outpost by Ann Aguirre, and these two novels are based on very similar ideas, though they are executed in two amazingly different ways. The writing styles are each unique and exciting to read, but without divulging too much of the plot, all I can say is that they maintain a similar premise when it comes to the evolution of the "zombies". It was very interesting to watch the way the two worlds each evolved and how older citizens always seem to revert to the old ways.
Shadows was gritty and gruesome and terrifying. But it was also another one of those emotional journeys that strikes you to the core, leaving you as vulnerable as the characters in the story. Ilsa J. Bick really goes for the shock factor with this series, and if the increase in action and suspense just from the first novel is any indication, I might need a respirator on hand to read the last book in this trilogy.
Be sure to stop back by at the end of October, as I'll have a guest post from the author as part of the Shadows Blog Tour!