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by Ilsa J. Bick
Available September 25, 2012 (cover not yet available and date from Egmont's webpage)
Creepy, catastrophic, cutting, clever, and cool, Shadows delivers in the second book of the Ashes trilogy. In book one, Alex and Tom were separated, each trying to find one another and Alex was in for the fight of her life. Surrounded by a group of snarling and hungry Changed, she will have to use her strength and wiles to outwit them and escape. Her mind is working against her; sometimes she feels like someone else is in her head; something bad is happening and she wants it to stop. She begins to sense and feel and even smell the difference between each of the Changed. What does it mean if she can identify them by smell?
Tom hates leaving Grace and Abel, the couple who found him and nursed him back to health, but he knows staying at their farmhouse puts them in danger. Right before he's ready to take off, men come to the house searching for him. Bounty hunters will pay big money for a healthy man Tom's age. The last thing Grace is able to say is, "Run, Tom!" and he runs for his life using the ice sled from the barn.
He has to find Alex before it's too late. He knows she's somewhere in Michigan and he's got to get there without being captured by bounty hunters or attacked by the Changed.
The Changed are beginning to change. They seem to be able to communicate without speaking; Alex is sure of it. She notices how they seem to hunt together and how they can make eye contact and know what the other is going to do, but can they read her thoughts, too? She's afraid to know the answer. They are able to overpower her and capture her, but they don't kill her. Not right away...they seem to want her for something.
Peter is captured by an evil man named Finn who seems to be collecting both humans and Changed. He puts Peter in a cell next to young Davy, a Changed boy. Peter is horrified to see that Finn is "experimenting" with Davy. He wants to see if he can teach a Changed to learn human behaviors and mannerisms. What will happen in the future if Finn is successful and the Changed can imitate humans?
Being "saved" isn't exactly all it's cracked up to be. Alex has to watch in horror as one after another human prisoner is devoured by the pack. If it keeps going this way, she figures she only has a few more days to live.
Then the pack move miles away over frozen snow and ice to a large home. It is there that Alex learns the real identities of her captors. They are the children of Rule--sent away from the town when they changed and being "fed" by their parents and grandparents. As someone is exiled, they are sent out to the wilds to be hunted by the pack. Alex was as good as dead the moment Jess sent her off with that shotgun.
Tom takes a serious mistep. He should have known better than to trust the old couple. He almost pays for it with his life...
Tom is saved by another couple who know Alex and they know that he can help them fight Rule. Tom knows explosives and decides to help them explode the old mine where the Changed are holed up.
The pack is back on the move; Alex can't believe that they are going underground, literally.
Tom and Alex are on a crash course to disaster and who knows if they will survive. Will Tom be able to save Alex? Will Alex be able to escape the Changed? What is happening to her mind? Is she beginning to change? Can a few people fight Rule and win?
Well-written with a breakneck plot and non-stop action, this novel will have fans of Ashes thrilled and ready to grab book 3.
Highly, highly recommended grades 9-up. Anyone who loves a zombie tale will "eat" this one right up. Bick continues to deliver to her "hordes" of zombie fans. Tom is a sexy, ex-military guy with serious swagger; Alex, his perfect counterpart, is a fierce female heroine with more guts and brains that any girl in fiction. Here's hoping they are re-united in book 3!
FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.