Summary: Lucy is a sixteen year-old surviving on her own after a plague has wiped out her entire family and most of the world’s population. A stranger named Aiden rescues her from a wild dog attack and invites her to live with his community of survivors at a place called Hell’s Gate. Reluctant, but forced to abandon her shelter by a tsunami, Lucy joins the community and has to adjust to living with others again. Turns out the community is being regularly culled by scientists with questionable motives involving plague research, and Lucy herself is the object of their desire due to the secret in her blood.
Number of Pages: 343
Age Range: 13-15
Review: If ever there were literary sisters from different books, I think they would be Dr. Lessing from Jo Treggiari’s Ashes, Ashes and Jeanine Matthews from the Divergent trilogy (by Veronica Roth). It is truly creepy how similar the two characters are in their single-minded pursuit of science at the expense of human life. They even seem to look alike.
Lucy is an incredibly independent character who has taught herself to survive on her own after the plague deaths of her whole family. Preferring her own company she only turns to community living when she has to after a tsunami wipes out her shelter, but finds a reason to stay in her crush on Aidan.
Things are pretty complicated though because scientists from the local hospital constantly raid the community, looking for something specific for their studies that turns out to be Lucy’s blood. Lucy, Aidan and Del go on a rescue mission to save the children that have been taken, but the reader is left with more question than answers after their encounter with Dr. Lessing as Ashes, Ashes is the start of a series and purposely leaves the reader hanging.
I was impressed by Lucy’s determination and survival skills, but things didn’t really pick up for me until Lucy moved into Hell’s Gate and started interacting with more people. I was frustrated by storylines left hanging, yet I am intrigued enough to want to read the next book in the series. What makes Lucy’s blood so special? Is Dr. Lessing truly pursuing science or does she have darker intentions? To that end, when is the next book coming out?
Recommended for early to mid teens with a caution about scenes of violence.
“‘Nothing will get rebuilt without people,’ he said.
‘People’ – she put a snotty emphasis on the word – ‘are the reason we’re in this mess in the first place. Too many people, and most of them are a waste of oxygen.'” – conversation between Aiden and Lucy from Ashes, Ashes by Jo Treggiari, page 41
“The Hell Gate. The question was, were you entering hell going in or coming out? As far as she was concerned, the jury was still out on that one.” – Lucy from Ashes, Ashes by Jo Treggiari, page 83
“Now that he was leaving, she felt the familiar lump of dread settle in her stomach. Funny how she felt safer when she was out in the open and could see her surroundings.” – Lucy from Ashes, Ashes by Jo Treggiari, page 109
“‘Don’t you ever just feel like saying ‘forget it’?’ Del said. ‘There’s just too much . . . responsibility,’ she said finally. Her mouth clenched around the word. She looked at Lucy, then at Aidan. Her eyes gleamed. ‘I mean, we’re teenagers, right? Aren’t we supposed to be getting ourselves into trouble? Having a good time? Sex and drugs and rock ‘n’ roll! Isn’t that what it’s supposed to be like?’ Her voice lowered and softened until she sounded like a little girl. Wistful and sad.” – Del from Ashes, Ashes by Jo Treggiari, page 249