What if you had something inside you that was destroying you? Alex has a brain tumor that she and her aunt have been trying to “kill” for almost 2 years. Nothing is working, not special treatments, not chemo, not radiation. Time is almost out for Alex and she knows it, even if her aunt doesn’t.
So rather than continue with treatments that aren’t working and in fact, make her sick, she ops out. As in no more treatments. As in she knows her life is ending, so she wants it to end on her terms. She has been putting off for years taking her parents ashes and spreading them in Lake Superior, as was their wish. Her parents died in a helicopter crash and it was shortly after this that she was diagnosed with the brain tumor. Alex decides she is going to go hiking and take her parents remains along to finally disperse them in the lake. However, before she can accomplish this mission, something catastrophic happens in the woods and later she realizes, around the world.
A harsh pulsing, dreadfully painful feeling grips Alex while she is in the woods, along with a man who has just come along the trail with his granddaughter, Ellie. The man, Jack, dies very quickly, and now Alex must pull herself together and get her and Ellie out of the woods. However, on their trip to a ranger station, they encounter two other teens, but something is horribly wrong with them. Alex now realizes that whatever that pulse of pain was, it has affected some people in terrible ways.
Alex and Ellie must struggle to survive in a world that appears to have turned upside down and people can’t be counted on at all. How will they make it back to civilization, and the questions becomes, should they even try?
Ashes by Ilsa Bick is a fast paced, what would you do, story that will pull you in. However, be prepared to read more because this book ends with a total cliff hanger. This book is the first book in a trilogy.
Recommended for 8th grade and up.