We host the Shadows Blog Tour today and welcome author Ilsa J. Bick who has written an insightful guest post for us. We thank her and welcome everyone to our tour stop today.
Shadows (Ashes Trilogy #2) by Ilsa J. Bick
YA dystopian*Hardcover, 528 pages
Published September 25th 2012 by EgmontUSA
The Apocalypse does not end. The Changed will grow in numbers. The Spared may not survive.
Even before the EMPs brought down the world, Alex was on the run from the demons of her past and the monster living in her head. After the world was gone, she believed Rule could be a sanctuary for her and those she’d come to love.
But she was wrong.
Now Alex is in the fight of her life against the adults, who would use her, the survivors, who don’t trust her, and the Changed, who would eat her alive.
Welcome to Shadows, the second book in the haunting apocalyptic Ashes Trilogy: where no one is safe and humans may be the worst of the monsters.
by Ilsa J. Bick
My favorite YA dystopian or apocalyptic novels
Well, I don’t really have any favorite YA dystopian or apocalyptic novels; I like a lot of them, and some more than others. But one thing I have noticed about all these kinds of books is that they share a similar structure that’s reflective of the fact that they are young adult novels. That is, there are elements in these books that really speak to the tasks of adolescence, which—being a shrink—I’ve studied.
Really, what are the tasks for all teenagers? By and large, they are: growing up; leaving home, literally and emotionally; forming new peer groups and ditching old ones; having sex; maybe forming a love interest; and heading out into a future. That’s a long, long list of disruptive and potentially quite painful change.
All adolescents know dystopian regimes. They’re called parents and school. It’s why kids can be such pains because adolescence is all about challenges within and without. For a teen and young adult, the rules are there to be challenged, overturned (if possible) and replaced by something better. All of a sudden, home isn’t so simple or straightforward. Your parents have morning breath, but the world is also scary. They don’t call it teenage angst for nothing.
But none of those concerns are different, at all, from something like The Hunger Games trilogy. The overarching adolescent structure is the same. Boiled down to its essence, that trilogy is all about teens heading off into the wild (i.e., leaving home), breaking a repressive regime; killing off a bad daddy (Snow) and bad mommy (Coin); making friends; losing friends; sacrificing oneself for a greater good; finding love and then returning to make a new, better and different home.
Most, if not all, adolescent and YA dystopians pretty much follow that template and so does ASHES, although this trilogy is post-apocalyptic first and foremost that shows you how a dystopian regime—what some people do to stay alive as the trilogy progresses—might develop.
Why are apocalyptic novels so appealing to adolescents? Easy. Adolescence and young adulthood is all about blowing up the world as you’ve known it: leaving home, changing the rules. So for teens and young adults to want to read about people just like them going through exactly what they’ve going through isn’t so surprising.
Now, why are these novels so prevalent at this cultural moment? Frankly, I think it’s because the world feels like it’s in a shambles and accelerating from bad to worse. Is it a coincidence that these books are coming out now, post-9/11? Nope, although they’ve always been around; there was a huge crop in the 60s, when the Cold War was big. A Wrinkle in Time is all about that. Plus, you’ve got global warming; overpopulation; diminishing resources; ongoing threats of terrorism; a crummy economy; mass species extinctions and environmental degradation; a bleak outlook for life-paths that were traditionally thought to lead to a nice life; a trazillion dollar deficit and debt; the overall decline in American influence abroad; the rise of other countries as economic and world powers . . . The world as we know it right now is dangerous and feels as if it’s getting worse. Granted, it can always be worse; and worse is what these books are about. If young adults and teens are pissed off, they should be because adults have made a mess of things they now get to deal with. So is it any wonder that they read books about tearing down crummy societies and making better ones? Nope.
Yet, as dismal as dystopians and apocalyptic narratives might seem, they offer hope because they posit young adults and teens as prime movers: masters of their fate and, potentially, saviors of the human race.
Here's the first book in the Ashes Trilogy (find a recap here: website)
Ashes (Ashes Trilogy #1) by Ilsa J. Bick
Hardcover, 465 pages
Published September 6th 2011 by Egmont USA
It could happen tomorrow . . .
An electromagnetic pulse flashes across the sky, destroying every electronic device, wiping out every computerized system, and killing billions.
Alex hiked into the woods to say good-bye to her dead parents and her personal demons. Now desperate to find out what happened after the pulse crushes her to the ground, Alex meets up with Tom—a young soldier—and Ellie, a girl whose grandfather was killed by the EMP.
For this improvised family and the others who are spared, it’s now a question of who can be trusted and who is no longer human.
Author Ilsa J. Bick crafts a terrifying and thrilling novel about a world that could be ours at any moment, where those left standing must learn what it means not just to survive, but to live amidst the devastation.