Monday, September 16, 2013

Review: Monsters by Ilsa J. Bick

Monday, September 16, 2013 with 7 comments
Title: Monsters
Author: Ilsa J. Bick
Series: Ashes Trilogy, book #3
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Publication Date: September 10, 2013
Source: received from publisher via Edelweiss
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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The Changed are on the move. The Spared are out of time. The now.

When her parents died, Alex thought things couldn't get much worse-until the doctors found the monster in her head.

She headed into the wilderness as a good-bye, to leave everything behind. But then the end of the world happened, and Alex took the first step down a treacherous road of betrayal and terror and death.

Now, with no hope of rescue-on the brink of starvation in a winter that just won't quit-she discovers a new and horrifying truth.

The Change isn't over.
The Changed are still evolving.
And...they've had help.

With this final volume of The Ashes Trilogy, Ilsa J. Bick delivers a riveting, blockbuster finish, returning readers to a brutal, post-apocalyptic world where no one is safe and hope is in short supply.

A world where, from these ashes, the monsters may rise.

Monsters and I got off to a bit of a rocky start.  Having been a year since I read Shadows and a year before that that I'd read Ashes, I'd forgotten quite a bit.  Even with Ilsa's handy dandy refreshers (So You Read ASHES a Year Ago & So You Read SHADOWS a Year Ago), I still felt like there was more about this world than I was remembering.  Re-reading my reviews for each book didn't help either, since I try to refrain from spoilers in my reviews.  I just knew that there were things I'd already figured out in the last book that I couldn't for the life of me remember!

Add to that that this book is 821 pages long, and well, I was having a very difficult time immersing myself in this world once again.  There was plenty of action and danger and still all of that intrigue as to whom to trust and how far to trust them, but it was A LOT to take in after being away from this story for so long.  So, if there's a chance you've forgotten anything about this series, I wholeheartedly suggest a re-read.  I wish I'd had the time to do that myself.  It might not have taken as long for me and the book to hit our stride.

But, gawd, once my head was back in this story, I couldn't put it down.  I'm not going to lie:  there are about a gazillion characters and points of view to keep track of in this series, and it's even worse in this final installment.  So, if a story told from multiple perspectives that shift in the middle of chapters isn't your thing, this may not be the series for you. Fortunately for me, I love multiple POVs.  I love the versatility of the third person omniscient point of view especially.  As the reader, you're the only one who truly knows every aspect of the story and you can tie all of the pieces together before any of the characters.

Unless you're reading this story, that is.  As with the other books in the series, Monsters keeps things unpredictable. Getting one question answered only brings on a slew of other questions.  Nothing is ever what it seems in this story, including the characters and their motivations.

I wish I could say that this "zombie" novel is unlike any other post-apocalyptic novel I've ever read.  Oh, it definitely has its own merits, but considering the sheer volume of zombie/post-apocalyptic fare I've read over the last few years, I feel that they all have one thing in common, one thing at the core of each story that compels me to keep reading them.  And it's not the blood and gore or the creepy factor, though I don't mind that.  No, if you really look at the heart of every post-apocalyptic tale, they're all about the human condition, what we're willing to do to survive and just how much we can withstand before we reach our breaking point. Of all the zombie novels I've read, I think this series showcases that facet best because you get to witness it from so many differing perspectives, and everyone handles a crisis differently.

Of course, even with it's similarities to other zombie books, there is one big difference:  the zombies in this series aren't zombies.  They are regular humans that have Changed.  They didn't die and come back to life as zombies are wont to do.  When the EMP hit in the first book, almost everyone falling in a certain age range just...changed.  They weren't themselves anymore and they suddenly liked the taste of human flesh.  There's some neuroscience-y stuff in there that I don't care to go into, nor do I fully understand, but it affects everything and everyone in this series.

There are the crazies who want to build an army out of the Changed.  There are those who want to hole up in a settlement of their own making and forget the rest of the world exists.  Then there are those who simply want to survive, to make some semblance of a new life for themselves now that the world has gone to pieces.  And then there are the Changed who are something...more.

I loved Alex and Tom and Ellie -- the three original characters from the first book -- but I think Simon/Wolf fascinated me the most.  His story was just coming to light in the last book, but after learning everything in Monsters, I believe he might be the toughest survivor of them all, pre-EMP and after.  And I can't believe his story still isn't finished.  I'm a big supporter of the open-ended conclusion and leaving the reader to determine how things really ended, but I also really need to know if there's more of a resolution to this character's story ARC, especially where Alex is concerned.

Monsters was probably the most intense book of the three, which is saying quite a bit.  It left me breathless and in tears and desperately wanting to know more.  I know 821 pages is daunting, but I encourage you to read this unforgettable story, starting from the beginning with Ashes.  If I remember correctly, that installment is told singularly from Alex's POV and should give you a great feel for the authenticity of the series and how well researched it is.

If you're a fan of zombie or post-apocalyptic novels, I probably don't have to convince you to read this series.  However, if you're one of those opposed to the gore and horror of this type of novel, I implore you to look past all that and give these books a chance.  Look to the heart of the story, instead, and see that it's actually a pretty beautiful (and brilliant) story of human survival.  And, hey, all three books are out now, so you can read them back-to-back and avoid all of those memory issues I ran into.  ;0)  Also, all three of these books were 5-star reads for me, if that helps.  :D

Ashes (Ashes Trilogy, #1)Shadows (Ashes Trilogy, #2)Monsters (Ashes Trilogy, #3)

About the author:

Among other things, I was an English major in college and so I know that I'm supposed to write things like, "Ilsa J. Bick is ." Except I hate writing about myself in the third person like I'm not in the room.

Helloooo, I'm right here . . . So let's just say that I'm a child psychiatrist (yeah, you read that right)as well as a film scholar, surgeon wannabe (meaning I did an internship in surgery and LOVED it and maybe shoulda stuck), former Air Force major—and an award-winning, best-selling author of short stories, e-books, and novels.

Believe me, no one is more shocked about this than I . . . unless you talk to my mother.

Find Ilsa:

Website | Twitter | FacebookGoodreads


  1. Sounds like it was worth a read and a good end to the series. Great review!

    On a side note I love the new design!

  2. EIGHT HUNDRED PAGES?! I can't even deal with that, omg. But I'm glad you loved it, Jen, and I loooooooove your new blog design! So pretty and so perfect for you guys!

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

  3. Ok so I didn't read your review since I have started Shadows yet. i will though really soon. I promise. I just wanted to see your rating for now. I can't wait to get to shadows then Monsters. I did notice the 800 pages wowzers! i am in for it for sure.

  4. That is such a long book! I look forward to starting this series as it does sound pretty awesome. I love the covers of the whole trilogy!


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