Title: World of Ash
Author: Shauna Granger
Release Date: 12/02/13
From the author—
There are two inherent truths in the world: life as we know it is over, and monsters are real.
The Pestas came in the night, spreading their pox, a deadly plague that decimated the population. Kat, one of the unlucky few who survived, is determined to get to her last living relative and find shelter from the pox that continues to devastate the world. When it mutates and becomes airborne, Kat is desperate to avoid people because staying alone might be her only chance to stay alive.
That is, until she meets Dylan. Dylan, with his easy smile and dark, curly hair, has nowhere to go and no one to live for. He convinces Kat there can be safety in numbers, that they can watch out for each other. So the unlikely couple set off together through the barren wasteland to find a new life – if they can survive the roaming Pestas, bands of wild, gun-toting children, and piles of burning, pox-ridden bodies.
I haven’t often come across post-apocalyptic or post-disaster fiction that centers on a teen alone or with just one ally; usually, it’s an older protagonist or a small group. One such series that comes to mind is Ashfall by Mike Mullin and another is the Ashes Trilogy by Ilsa J. Bick. Now, we have World of Ash from Shauna Granger and I must say I’m very glad.
We get a brief but telling taste of how life has changed for Kat in the very first pages when she agonizes over her first look in a mirror, seeing what has become of her once-beautiful hair. On the surface, this would seem to be extremely shallow considering the horrific reality she now lives in but it’s a small insight into how Kat herself is changing and how she’s walking a fine line between defeat and survival in a world gone mad.
One of the most refreshing things in the story is that Dylan is so less capable than Kat when they first meet. She’s not exactly the stalwart heroine who cannot be defeated but it’s nice that a female protagonist is a few steps ahead of the guy we’d normally see as her rescuer, her protector, her shoulder to lean on. In this case, HE needs HER even with all her weaknesses. We get to understand his vulnerability without thinking of him as weak. Still, his naivete is a bit unrealistic at times. Then again, at the tender age of 19, he wouldn’t have read as many end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it novels as I have so maybe I shouldn’t expect him to be better prepared 😉
Blue, as you’ll see, is the most endearing character of all bringing lightness and joy and pure love to what could have been a dreary existence. We should all have a Blue in time of great need.
There are a few construction flaws here and there, incorrect words and typos, and occasional plot inconsistencies; for instance, Kat and Dylan know the vicious preppers will certainly investigate the fire the two set to burn a body and, yet, they walk right past it as they head north rather than head through the woods and fields to avoid that area. Despite these infrequent failings, Ms. Granger’s story is strong, her plot is believable and her characters are engaging, whether likeable or not. World of Ash, when all is said and done, is a fine addition to the post-apocalyptic subgenre of science fiction. The ending of World of Ash is not a cliffhanger but I do hope there will be a second book.
Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, December 2013.
About the Author
Like so many other writers, Shauna grew up as an avid reader, but it was in high school that she realized she wanted to be a writer. Five years ago, Shauna started work on her Elemental Series. She released the first installment, Earth, on May 1, 2011 and has since released four sequels, with the series coming to an end with Spirit. She is currently hard at work on a new Urban Fantasy series, staring a spunky witch with a smush-faced cat named Artemis.
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