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{September 5, 2013}   {ARC Review} Monsters by Ilsa J. Bick (Ashes #3)

15947841From Goodreads: The Changed are on the move. The Spared are out of time. The End…is now.

When her parents died, Alex thought things couldn’t get much worse-until the doctors found the monster in her head.

She headed into the wilderness as a good-bye, to leave everything behind. But then the end of the world happened, and Alex took the first step down a treacherous road of betrayal and terror and death.

Now, with no hope of rescue-on the brink of starvation in a winter that just won’t quit-she discovers a new and horrifying truth.

The Change isn’t over.
The Changed are still evolving.
And…they’ve had help.

With this final volume of The Ashes Trilogy, Ilsa J. Bick delivers a riveting, blockbuster finish, returning readers to a brutal, post-apocalyptic world where no one is safe and hope is in short supply.

A world where, from these ashes, the monsters may rise.

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Bick jumps right into this final installment without giving any playback, so if you haven’t read the other books, you’ll be lost in this one. And if you haven’t read the other books recently, you’ll most likely need a refresher course because there are a ton of characters, and the story jumps back and forth between them all, leaving the reader on constant pins and needles as each change over happens on a cliffhanger.  To be truthful, Bick is the queen of cliffhangers—I haven’t read another author that does it so flawlessly and so often within his/her writing; it’s an art, really, and I admire Bick’s ability to write a story like this that leaves me yearning for more and more, freaking out at each mini cliffhanger within the chapters.  And guess what?  The ending, in my opinion, leaves the door wide open for a spinoff series if Bick so chooses, which I would love, cliffhangers and all.

The characterization is great, but I was a bit confused by some of the paranormal activity that takes place in this novel, which I either forgot about from the previous novels, or I just plain missed in this one. I don’t really understand Alex’s ability and the monster within her, but I’m going to chalk it up to reader error because, honestly, Bick has never lead me astray.  I’ve highly enjoyed all her novels, and this zombie apocalypse is a smash hit.

Overall, Monsters was one hell of a ride and a great end to the series, but just a little too long for my tastes. I, personally, would have gotten more joy out of it had it been pared down from nearly 700 pages to two separate books.  Instead of a trilogy, a four book series would have been superb and made reading this final installment that much easier.  Regardless, though, this was an epic end to the series, but readers beware, it’s basically a nonstop action ride, jumping from character to character with mini cliffhangers written in between the multiple points of view.  There isn’t much down time, though I’ll admit there was a little, so I came out of it extremely tense and my body hurt from it all because I just couldn’t let myself relax as I read, and 700 pages is a long time to be tense. But it’s so good, it was worth it.  Four stars.

4 stars

Egmont USA has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its release on September 10, 2013.

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