“Ashes, Ashes” by Jo Treggiari
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Science Fiction
Source: Free (at the time) audiobook from Sync
Summary from Goodreads:
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 book had a lot of potential but I didn’t think it lived up to it. To be fair, I’ve read a lot of dystopian books this year and many of them were really good. Because of that, this book had massive shoes to fill. The book isn’t exactly bad but it wasn’t great either. That’s partially why it took me forever to listen to.
The characters were bland. I couldn’t relate to Lucy at all. I felt she was cold and detached. There was nothing to really make me like her. She walked the line of being independent and wanting to be around people really awkwardly. She was able to survive completely by herself for a year in Central Park (good for her. I don’t think I could do that) but when offered the chance to move somewhere to live with a group of other survivors she just scoffs at the idea. She was terrified to live with a group of kids and old people. I don’t know it just seemed to me like she was doing the opposite of what I would do most of the time. Maybe that’s why she didn’t sit well with me?
Aidan wasn’t much better. He felt like just a cookie cutter of a male lead. Dell was just a mean girl to be mean but then suddenly has a change of heart? Eh, not totally buying it. The book had a large-ish cast of characters so not being able to completely develop side characters is understandable. But Lucy and Aidan (who were the main focus of the story) still seemed somewhat unfinished. They were a good effort but needed some more work.
I will say that the story was infinitely more believable than many dystopian books I’ve read. A disease that kills 99% of the population? That’s possible and quite frightening. I just wish it had more science fiction elements. That would have made the story better for me.
I had the audiobook version of the story. I really wasn’t overly thrilled with Cassandra Campbell’s reading voice. I don’t want to bash people with a gravelly voice (because I have one as well) but it really wasn’t suited for reading a long story. The length was another problem! The audiobook ran for ~9 hours or so. That wouldn’t be too bad if you could listen to it on a long commute but I don’t have that. I just squeezed in listening here and there when I could. That’s why it took me about 3 months to get through. I could have read the book in 2/3 days no problem.
Eh. Nothing special but I wouldn’t advise you to not read the book either if that makes sense. It’s a decent enough way to pass the time.