Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Review: Ashes, Ashes by Jo Treggiari

Title: Ashes, Ashes
Author: Jo Treggiari
Genre: Dystopian Fiction
Publisher: Scholastic 
Length: 344 pages
Original Publishing Date: June 1st, 2011
Series: Ashes, Ashes #1
Where I got it: Audiobook from the library
Links: Goodreads Amazon Author's Website

Synopsis from Goodreads: 
A thrilling tale of adventure, romance, and one girl's unyielding courage through the darkest of nightmares.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.

Main characters: 1.5/5

Lucy is a stubborn young teen who has embarked on her own, trying to make a life in the post-apocalyptic world. Here's the good news about Lucy: she has a backbone and she's stubborn to bits. The bad news? She's boring as all get out.

Part one of I Hate Lucy was the fact that she was so stubborn that she purposefully avoided groups of people in order to strike out on her own. Sorry, I don't care how much you want to be independent or whatever, if it's the end of the world you sure as heck better suck it up and gang up with some others in order to survive. 

Further, Lucy continued to deteriorate after she joined the group. She became part of a squabbling mess of teenage drama and continued to annoy me afterward.

Secondary characters: 1/5

A montage of half-hearted and half-developed characters make up our secondary cast. Poor Aiden, the love interest, is hopelessly heroic and yet dull. Del is that stereotypical beautiful mean girl, and I am so done with those. Henry had the potential to be the cute flirty yet funny friend, but his characterization was not strong enough to be worth anything more than a chuckle. Ultimately, I just didn't find any value in the secondary characters and I didn't feel that they had any sort of meaningful development.

Writing style: 1.5/5

Treggiari's writing style was unwieldy and a bit juvenile. We start out the story with a mind-numbingly slow description of Lucy's attempt to eat a turtle, but then alternate between molasses-slow pacing and jarringly quick and confusing passages. The description was over-the-top and extensive. Treggiari randomly inserts past history and information dumps, which makes for an awkward read.

I'm not trying to say that there is no merit to Treggiari's writing. I could see promise and I think that a lot of the problems that I had here were with the editing. This novel just needed a red marker and some encouragement for Ms. Treggiari to amp up the excitement and the pacing. With some cleaning up, Treggiari's action sequences had the potential to be exciting.

Plot: 2/5 
I'll admit that I am a little burned out on Dystopian- but they still have the power to enchant me, even after all this time. Unfortunately, Ashes, Ashes did not have that power. All the bones were there: the combination of natural disasters and the plague, the survival aspects, the dark dystopian powers that thrived in its wake. I think the problem was that, paired with all of my others complaints, the plot simply wasn't substantial enough.

Sure, there were some minor believability issues, and some things that should have been fact-checked or reconsidered, but my main problem is that the plot seems to fluctuate with where its going, and when it finally decides, I don't like its route. I felt that the villain and the plot could have been stronger. While I like the ethical dilemma it presents and the questions it raises about evil versus greater good, I felt confused about the motivation and I wanted more depth and grittiness to the plotline and the villains.

Ending: 1/5

Pretty much what you'd expect after the rest of this review. No surprises, no plot twists. Treggiari's writing sped up, but it was in a way that made me really confused! I didn't really know what was going on a lot of the time. And I'm definitely not a fan of cliffhangers, but this didn't give me any motivation to return. A cliffie would have been better here.

Best scene: The flood?

Reminded Me Of: A poor man's Viral Nation

Positives: Lucy's stubborn streak, the potential for better writing in the future from Treggiari

Negatives: Boring and undeveloped characters, teenage drama, writing style & pacing, unsubstantial plot and lack of grittiness, ending

Cover: Yuck, I'm not a fan. The font is awful and the graphics seem cheap

Verdict:  Skip it

Rating:  2.8 / 10 (2 stars)

Your Thoughts: Have you read it? What did you think? If you haven't, will you be adding it to your TBR list? Let me know!

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