This is the second novel in the Ashes trilogy by Ilsa J. Bick.
My review of #1: Ashes.
Note - There will be spoilers from the first novel in this series. Be warned before reading past this sentence!
When Alex ran away from the town of Rule, she really wasn't expecting to be the next meal for the Changed, or Chucky's, as a ritual for Rule. Because that's what it is. The Chucky's leave the people of Rule alone as long as they get humans to eat and food to feed the humans so they don't die right away.
After trying to fight the Changed, she was taken captive and was forced to travel with them and other human sacrifices. While traveling with them, she realizes that her ability to smell things was starting to become stronger, making her more aware of what the Changed are doing before they decide to act on it. Maybe her ability will help her survive this nightmare?
Tom was saved by an older couple who took them in when he was shot in the leg. They saved his leg and took care of him, but they were also pretending that Tom was their dead son. There were a lot of similarities between the two and were still devastated over the death of their son.
Tom went along with it for awhile, but it was time to move on and find Alex. He knew it might be a lost cause but he needed to try and find her. But the trip from the farm house he was taken to and Alex, who was now the possibility of the Changed's last meal was not going to be easy. In fact, he got captured so many times by older adults who wanted the rewards of bringing in a young 'un that wasn't Changed that he had to keep a close eye on everyone around him.
After trying to save Alex from leaving Rule, Chris woke up a week later and couldn't remember all of the details of what happened in those last moments before blanking out. Turns out that he was knocked unconscious by a close friend from Rule in order to let Alex leave to be the next sacrifice for the Changed.
Then Chris was kicked out of Rule because he chose Alex over his family and home. He was able to escape a cruel fate only to have to fight at every turn to find shelter and food during the brutal snow storms that kept coming. Thankfully he was with Lena and Nathan, though they hindered more than helped sometimes on their hike to survival. But Chris was bound and determined to find Alex and correct what was wronged.
Rule was never a safe place for Lena, where they wanted all of the young females to mate with the older grandpa's there and keep the population booming. So she sided with Chris and was sent out of Rule as well.
Only things weren't going well for Lena. She found out that her semi-sorta boyfriend was working with the Changed and did the exchange for protection by giving them humans to snack on, then found out that he was killed on the last trip out of Rule for supplies. But even worse, she's been sick to her stomach for most of the trip away from Rule and she has a horrible suspicion why... And she's also having the ability to see in the dark - details she should not see and has...cravings and urges that should not be her most priority... What is happening to her?
When Peter's group was ambushed, he was sure that he was dead for good. But then he woke up strapped to a gurney and found out that the people who ambushed him wanted him specifically to "experiment" on him. Turns out, the ex-militia solider Finn put the Changed's blood inside of him when he needed a transfusion And now they were putting other things inside of him to see how much he can resist the fluids.
Peter can't escape, but he can fight to stay alive to try to escape later. Finn is making him fight Chucky's that they are capturing, to train the Chucky's how to survive longer by watching Peter. Peter doesn't know how much longer he can keep surviving, but he is not going down without a fight.
All of these characters are fighting for one thing in this nightmare of a world: survival and to find the person they are searching for. Will they be able to succeed, or will the Changed get in their way? Read Shadows by Ilsa J. Bick to find out!
I really enjoyed the first novel in this series, so I was really excited when I got this book from the library.
Except that I didn't really like this one.
The first reason was the narration. It's nice that we had 5 people to follow and get a broader story. I just found it ridiculously hard to figure out which chapter was which character narration at the time. There were times that I would skim the first two pages looking for familiar names, figuring out who it was about and then go back to the beginning of the chapter with that setting in mind.
I didn't find that enjoyable. I like narration that flows and that did not flow for me.
Secondly, the length. Good lord, it was over 500 pages of long, detailed, agonizingly slow narration. Don't get me wrong, I read Harry Potter 7 in a day so length does not scare me. Just slow paced length gives me a problem.
And third, there was too much happening. I couldn't keep everything straight and I read this quite a bit after the first one (in July and just now for the second one). I found myself lost and looking things up online to try and figure out who was who at the beginning of the story.
Now, despite all of the negativity above, I did enjoy it a little bit. I was dedicated and determined to finish it because I really did enjoy the first novel and I want to read the conclusion when it comes out in March 2013. I just found myself not enjoying this book while reading it.
Now that I'm done, though, I appreciate the story and am able to remember what happened and how it all fit together.
I will be reading the final story when it comes out just to see how Bick will finish this world that she created, and how each character fares throughout the story. I'm especially curious to see what happens to Alex, particularly after her last scene in Shadows.