October 29, 2011

Ashes, Ashes

by Jo Treggiari
Scholastic Press
341 pp.
Ages 12+

We've all heard the dire predictions about where our world is headed.  With all the changes we've made to our planet, it's inevitable that the weather will become more unpredictable, disasters more frequent and colossal, landscapes immeasurably altered.  Such is the fate of New York City but twisted more so with a plague that has decimated the population.  Not surprising that Lucy Holloway, 16, survives alone in a camp she has created for herself in the former Central Park, trapping and hunting and eluding the hazard squads of Sweepers, the S'ans (scarred survivors of the plague) and other scavengers.

But, when Lucy is saved from the Sweepers' dogs by Aidan, whose community lives in The Hell Gate, and then a tsunami forces her to flee, Lucy joins the co-operative group of scavengers, hunters, and farmers that includes Aidan, Del, Joe, Grammalie Rose, Henry and several S'ans.  While trying to find her place in the community, Lucy realizes that she is being pursued as a love-interest, targeted as a rival, perceived as an anomaly, and even tracked for some reason.

Lucy Holloway is rich character whose layers of personality reflect her past but also her strong survival instincts.  Her naiveté regarding trust issues may lead to confusion for her, but her reactions are authentic.  On the other hand, Aidan remains a vague character, whose motivations and behaviour are not fully substantiated (perhaps just not yet), especially with regards to his affection for Lucy.  

As dismal as this dystopian new world is, with its conflicts and disease, hardships and pain, there is much promise for hope. The adventure and characters' drive for survival will keep the reader turning the pages, but it's this hope that will keep the reader waiting for Treggiari's sequel to Ashes, Ashes 

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