- Ashes, Ashes
Epidemics and environmental catastrophes killed off most of the world’s population, and the survivors face a harsh landscape, the constant risk of infection, and, just to add to the fun, the real chance that they will be picked up by Sweepers who gather up healthy individuals for the purpose of medical experimentation. Sixteen-year-old Lucy has been getting by on her own in what used to be Central Park, but the weather, dogs, and other risks finally force her to join up with a group of survivors nearby. Lucy doesn’t know it, but she is very much the target of the Sweepers, as she appears to be the only person who is truly immune to the most dangerous contagion; since they intend to kill her in order to study her, Lucy isn’t too keen on helping science. The action starts immediately and in a realistically grim spot, with Lucy contemplating the butchery of a turtle she killed, and ends in what is a hopeful (and rather romantically mushy) but still quite uncertain moment where Lucy is left contemplating the nature of love, life, and sacrifice in a post-apocalyptic world. The relatively straightforward plot, smaller cast of characters, and cool “girl in the wild” vibe will appeal to adventure and survival fans, even while the plagues, underwater geography, and slightly futuristic tones will grab sci-fi readers. A map orients readers to the new watery, tree-filled New York.