Friday, November 15, 2013

Monsters, by Ilsa J. Bick- Review

From Goodreads:
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.

The Ashes trilogy has been the single best zombie series I've read to date. It's smart, scary, full of kick ass guys and girls, and absolutely riddled with twisting plot points and unexpected reveals.  The overall story is so richly layered that only the size of Monsters (671 pages) prevented me from going right back to the beginning for a full re-read so I could see how it all came together without the gaps of time between book releases.  As it is I'll definitely be re-reading this in the near-ish future.

More than anything, Bick has written the most intelligent and complex zombie series in YA and probably outside of it as well. Full of details of everything from military munitions to medical theories, there is nothing that's been dumbed down for her audience by either the author or the publisher (Edgemont) and I was continually impressed by what they trusted their readers with.  Bick's skill with explaining things in layman's terms, and having the characters in her story explain using concepts everyone's familiar with (a hugely important aspect of this last book is explained by comparing it to cell phone towers and range of signals) is what makes this work, otherwise you could be easily lost.

Book one, Ashes, was all about Alex, then book two, Shadows, spread further and gave us a variety of POV's to start revealing the full scale of the crazy going down, by book three the bevy of POV's was starting to rival a Stephen King novel, but in the best possible way. This continual growing of perspectives constantly opens Bick's world to the reader to an ever bigger extent, and coupled with the growing reveals it makes a breath-taking little plot trick which I've never seen used in quite this way.   I'm not sure it would have worked as well if Bick hadn't managed to introduce so many peripheral characters to Alex's story and made them worth wondering about, in whatever short time they had in her rapid fire adventure. More than anything though, I loved how Bick narrowed it all back down to Alex for the last few pages, ending it with her, but in such a way that it seems like it is merely the beginning, and not the end of an already epic series of adventures.

I don't want to give away any of the many surprises, however I do want to go on record saying that I was thoroughly pleased by both the death toll (very reasonable, by which I mean high), and Bick's ability to save people when she needed to. Listen, there are just some people I wasn't going to be OK losing, as it was one of the deaths broke my heart in a serious way.  

My absolute only complaint is that after reading all 671 pages I realised there was a who's who and what they were doing at the end of Shadows at the BACK of the book!  Alas, that really needed to be in the front. My other recommendation is that you definitely read Bick's synopsis of Shadows (and possibly Ashes depending on your memory) before you dig in, if you haven't read either of them recently. These stories are far to complex, with far too many players in them to jump in without a refresher a year apart from each other.

So if you're a zombie lover, or if you like to read at all, I would seriously recommend this series. It's a crime it's not an insanely popular fan favorite, but I suspect that's just because it hasn't been widely discovered yet.  Get out there and discover it already people!! Then make sure and come back to gab, because I'm dying to know what you thought. I smell a read-along in the making.

Monsters, by Ilsa J. Bick
Published by Edgemont, September 10th, 2013
My copy kindly provided by the publisher


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