Ever since Scholastic released Suzanne Collins’ mega bestselling Hunger Games trilogy, the publishing industry has been on the hunt for the next epic dystopian novel and the shelves – brick and mortar and virtual – are overflowing with dystopian this and dystopian that. Here we go… again! Visions of vampires are taunting me and to be honest, I’d like to grab a stake and plunge it straight through the core of the sparkly vamp that started this trend of copy cat, ho-hum, lack of originality that seems to burn like a wildfire that needs to be contained and extinguished — immediately. Excuse me folks for not getting “compelled” and losing common sense and most of all, thank goodness, I haven’t lost my literary intellect Jersey Shore style.
Let me give you the goods on my reading tastes. First and foremost, I am a book snob — who am I kidding, I am a snob period — and when it comes to the “dystopian” trend I am a hard sell… an extremely tough caramel cookie to break in this genre. Anyone read Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 – okay, how about watched the movie? Dystopian has been around for many, many years, but now that the Young Adult market has profited successfully with this subgenre with teens and adults alike, publishers latched on like a hawk to its prey.
Unfortunately, they just won’t let go, no matter how over saturated and zestless it is becoming. The publishing folks are waiting with bated breath for the next dystopian novel to become the next Hunger Games – well, I hope they don’t atrophy as they wait because Collins’ series was the real deal and cannot be duplicated. With that said, I hope authors stop trying to write the next Hunger Games and publishers cease and desist the search for another Collins-esque uber seller. It has been written and we’ve reached “the end.” Let me say it, I don’t even think Collins is capable of recreating the sensational phenomenon she did and it just may very well be her classic bestselling knockout. Now, with that said, Scholastic has done it again with Jo Treggiari’s apocalyptic Ashes, Ashes and this is what I have been hungering for.
The inspiration for Treggiari’s YA debut, Ashes, Ashes, comes from the rhyme kids recited in singsong (mostly on the playground), “Ring around the roses / A pocketful of posies / Ashes, ashes / We all fall down.” As a kid, I thought “posies” meant some type of flowers, but later learned it meant the sores plague victims got during the Plague and the “falling down” was about those infected dropping to their death. As an adult, my lip is curling a’ la Elvis and my stomach is churning because it is rather disgusting and so inappropriate to be chanted as a kid nursery rhyme style – I wonder if the Grim Reaper didn’t pen that one himself! Good gravy!
Treggiari’s breathtaking Ashes, Ashes is set in apocalyptic New York City. NYC is demolished after a succession of floods from melting polar ice caps and a series of earthquakes devouring and toppling neighborhoods. Enter sixteen-year-old Lucy Holloway, one of the few survivors of a plague that erupted, annihilating 99% of civilization, including her family.
Lucy has been going it alone for quite some time until she is chased down by a pack of wild dogs and is rescued by Aiden. Lucy realizes she can’t endure it on her own anymore and joins his camp of survivors. Treggiari amps up the creep factor with the introduction of the Sweepers. Sweepers travel throughout the city randomly snatching survivors, but they have set their sights on Lucy. Treggiari does such a brilliant job describing the evil Sweepers, you feel chills run up and down your spine. Treggiari’s characters are compelling, fascinating and an eclectic mix of personalities you are drawn in from each direction as you fight for survival.
Ashes, Ashes is a riveting novel and you may even get a few singe marks from turning the pages. Treggiari’s YA debut is a haunting tale, but the closing would of greatly benefited with a bit more detail as Ashes, Ashes reached its climax. A dollop of intense animation, stirring moments of fright and a bit more acceleration would of heightened it to the theatrical levels she set out with in the beginning and would of definitely won a five star dystopian seal. Therefore, Ashes, Ashes is more futuristic than dystopian due to the fact that the ending needed a bit more snap, crackle and pop. Overall, this is a top-notch, survival story rich with action and suspense, that is not to be missed.