How to review Ashes? The first half of the story is amazing, I couldn't put it down. It reads like a modern Stephen King and the idea of Alex being able to smell fear and the changed kids is a really interesting concept. However, the second half was like reading a different book. I couldn't connect with any of the new characters, the story itself seemed very slow going, I had to drag myself through it just so I could get to the ending. However, the ending is a cliffhanger the size of Everest, which I wasn't best pleased about.
Alex, Ellie and Tom are the perfect team, they're pretty much a family unit, people who would have never even glanced at each other if they hadn't have been stuck in the situation that they're in. I liked that none of them knew each other before hand, so we're learning about them at the same time as them learning about each other. Tom has the survival skills, Alex has the butt-kicking heroine attitude and Ellie, well, she's Ellie - a fiery temper but strangely loveable.
I liked the unique things about this story - Alex's brain tumour (not something you'd usually see a YA main character having), her strange sense of smell where she's somehow able to sense people's emotions (this reminded me of R. J. Anderson's Ultraviolet, where the main character could taste words), and the obvious one - the Zap thing itself. On the other hand the second half is loaded with bland stereotypes that had me banging my head against a wall (a cult, really?) and I was quite disappointed with this. I'm hoping the sequel will go back to the quality of the first half, which I would have happily given five stars to. Fingers crossed!