Jo Treggiari, Scholastic, 2011, 344 pages, young adult dystopian.
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.
This was an intersting book, the premise is topical - a dystopian future based on global environmental crisis such as earthquakes, floods, tsunami and disease. This is global warming taken to the extreme, but there is a certain plausibility here and it drew me in.
Ashes, Ashes begins with sixteen year old Lucy surviving alone in Central Park in a dystopian future. This horrifying scenerio with its heronine bent on survival drew me in right away. Lucy is strong, and not accidentally strong, she has to work at it and she sometimes makes mistakes, but she soldiers on and does what she needs to survive. I love strong female characters, ones who know how to take care of themselves and don't save the day accidentally with some skill or power that they don't quite understand. Lucy is not like this. She wants to live, figures out how to hide herself away from the Sweepers (who pick people up and they are never heard from again) and how to hunt and gather food. She uses her knife, makes herself a spear and gets on with things.
Most of the other characters in the book were not as well developed. Aidan is fun and a bit mysterious, the obvious love interest, and there are some great turns in his characterization. Grammalie Rose, the matriarch who oversees everything, is a good addition and helps to round out the story. Henry and Del and many of the others are good, but are a bit stereotypical. The rivalry between Lucy and Del is shallow.
After Lucy goes to live in the community, things change and the story becomes more about avoiding and fighting the Sweepers and for Lucy to figure out what is so special about her - why do the Sweepers want her so badly. Here there is more adventure and less survival, as well as the crazy love triangle (which involves 5 people).
For the most part, I did enjoy Treggiari's writing, but there were times that I felt it was unnecessarily overly detailed. Perhaps this was done to build tension, but I found it a bit tedious. Thankfully, this only happened in a few places and not in the whole book.
Overall, I did enjoy this book and found it to be a quick read. Those who like young adult dystopian novels will probably enjoy this one too. There is a good amount of tension and excitement, some fun twists in the story, and some good social commentary.